Friday, June 29, 2007

Indian Idol Sikh Style: Hunt for kirtan stars

On Sunday, June 24, 2007 evening in Kolkata was the final of a talent hunt with a difference. The show, modelled on Indian Idol, tried to identify the "gurbani kirtan talent of the year".  At Sant Kutiya Gurdwara, Bhowanipore, the 10 finalists went head-to-head for the tuned-in ears of the judges, all of whom are experts in devotional music. An audience poll was also conducted.

The event was organised by Sikh Heritage, a group of youths who spread the message of Sikhism across the country. It was sponsored by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Sant Kutiya Gurdwara Committee, Calcutta.

"The competition had three rounds, with only the best in each round making it to the next. Unlike in other kirtan competitions, the participants got to sing before a huge audience. The original forms of the kirtans were sung," stated Manvika Uberoi of Sikh Heritage. Over 175 singers took part in the preliminary round, held at the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad auditorium, on Shakespeare Sarani. Over 130 of the contestants were from the city. The outstation participants came from Asansol, Ranigunj, Sambalpur, Durgapur and other towns. The singers were divided into three groups, according to their age: Group A for those up to 15, Group B for those between 15 and 19 years and Group C for singers 19 and above. After the preliminary round, 32 contestants were shortlisted for the semi-finals, which were held at Gurdwara Sant Kutiya on Friday and Saturday. Four of the semi-finalists were non-Sikhs — three Bengalis and another singer from Bihar. All the contestants were trained for 10 days before the semi-finals. The three Bengalis made it to the finals.

The winner from each group will get a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a chance to perform in and outside the city, including at the Golden Temple. Singing kirtan at the Golden Temple is considered a great honour. One of the three will become the "gurbani kirtan talent of the year" in the city.
Music director Bholanath Mukhopadhyay was one of the judges. The other judges were from Amritsar and are associated with the Golden Temple. According to Uberoi, the competition was an attempt to make traditional music popular among Sikh youths.
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