Jaffna comes alive with music from across the globe

Vindya Amaranayake reporting from Jaffna, in The Nation, 27 March 2011

Jaffna Municipal Grounds, in the close vicinity of famous Jaffna Library and Alfred Duraiappah Stadium, came alive last two days, as hundreds of artistes from across the country took part in the Jaffna Music Festival 2011.
More than 24 local folk art and music groups representing many areas in the country and five international folk groups from India, Nepal, Palestine, South Africa and Norway rendered performances to the applaud of the crowds gathered at the stadium.

Pic from Nation

 Kid’s Villu Paattu — Pic by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai


Festival goers – Pic by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Colombo in partnership with USAID, the festival was organised by the Sewa Lanka Foundation with the support of Concerts Norway and Aru Sri Art Theatre.
“We plan to make this a biannual event. And next we want to have a similar festival in Galle,” organizers told The Nation.

The groups were selected following a long process that ran over three months, after processing 60-80 applications. The main event in Jaffna was followed by a series of village performances. “Most of these groups have been confined to their villages for many years and have not performed outside. For them, performing under lights and with modern sound equipment was a novel idea,” the organisers said.
University of Jaffna has played a significant role in identifying unique folk art groups in Jaffna and a university representative said until recently they were not able to have night performances due to the conflict. For the first time after a long time they were able to have a festival running into late night.

Hundreds of enthusiastic crowds visited the festival and one of the highlights was the fact that there were entire families coming from many areas in the Jaffna Peninsula visiting the festival with even small children. Sub Inspector L. S. Weerasinghe from the Illaveli Police Station, who was in duty at the festival said, until this festival the people hardly had any opportunities to engage in cultural events with their families. “There had been musical shows here. But, this is different. People have come with their children and parents to this event,” he said.

Among the crowd there were many from the South, who have been aware of the festival for months. However, The Nation found out that many in the Jaffna Peninsula and the northern region were not aware of the festival.
The festival will conclude today and the international participants are expected to take part in a concert on Tuesday March 29 at the Tourist Board Auditorium in Colombo.

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