This weekend the streets and the flyover bridge was frozen, if not flooded, with traffic for hours in front of the oval-shaped Bangladesh Army Stadium. On a regular day, citizens would have been outraged. But this was an exception. It was the first day of the Dhaka International Folk Fest. In the middle of the chaos, an essence of the mystic bauls arouse from the festival. The footpath adjacent to the venue had a line stretching a few miles at least. People entered the gates through a heavy security screening.
As the clock hit 7:30pm, people were roaming about the secured arena after entering through the west side gates. The stage was at the north side, and there were hundreds of seats for the audience in the middle of the field. And it had a curtain roof, sheltering the crowd. This area was as big as 40 badminton courts. The whole atmosphere embodied the very definition of a festival. On the east side, there was a food court that had over a dozen stalls. Items ranging from biriyani to burgers were sold. The 36 nine-seated tables were never empty throughout the night. People of all ages, were present. The elderly mostly had the front row views of the stage, while middle-aged parents roamed the area with their kids. And on the stadium seats, young adults scattered around in groups, having a great hangout.
After the opening ceremony and speeches from Annisul Huq, the Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, and Abul Maal Abdul Muhith the Minister of Finance, the music began. People were roaming, chatting, eating and listening simultaneously. After getting warmed up by old-school folk melodies by Abdul Rahman Baul and Fakir Tuntun Shah, the audience started to lend their ears more. At 9:05pm, Simon Thacker and Raju Das Baul took the place by storm. The people really enjoyed the fusion between Eastern and Western instruments. Almost everyone, including security forces, turned their heads to see the showdown between the guitar and the dotara. Later, Pakistani artist Javed Bashir put on a solid performance, which lasted well-passed 11. He was followed by the day’s headliner, the Folk Queen, Momtaz Begum. Her voice along with some catchy beats pumped up her fans. She sang way past midnight. The event ended with electrified visitors, returning home, filled with the enjoyment of the occasion.
The organisers have declined to disclose the number of visitors throughout the day, for security measures. But according to rumblings amongst the press, it was approximately 15,000. The security forces did a very good job. The arena staff kept the washrooms and the fields clean. Dozens of garbage cans were spread throughout the entire event. Catch the last of day of this well organised festival today, if you have the registered pass. Don’t miss out. Sun Events and Maasranga Television has jointly arranged this event for the second year in a row, and they have done a good job.