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Pakhtoons to sing theme song of Durga Puja committee of North Kolkata

As uncertainty and fear prevail in Afghanistan amid the ongoing Taliban rule, two Pakhtoon singers will play a key role in one of Bengal’s biggest annual festivals.

More than 2,000 km from Kabul, the two singers, longtime residents of Kolkata, will sing the theme song of a popular Durga Puja in the city this year. The unique initiative is being taken by a Durga Puja committee at Ashwaninagar Bandhu Mahal in North Kolkata.

The organizers said that the idea first came to their minds when headlines about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan drew their attention. They thought that if the theme song of the Puja is sung by Afghan singers, then it would be able to send a message of harmonious coexistence with others as enshrined in Indian culture.

“The song will not only have tunes from Afghan folk songs, but its lyrics will be in Pushtu language. We aim to send a message to the people of Afghanistan that we stand by them in these times of crisis,” said a senior member of the puja committee Swarup Nag.

He also said that to make the song more legible to the visitors, they are planning to play Bengali translations of it at regular intervals.

The recording will be conducted by music composer Samrat Bhattacharya. When he was first approached by the organizers regarding the theme song, it brought back an old memory regarding Pakhtoons, known as Kabuliwalas in Bengal, residing in the city.

“When the organizers approached regarding the theme song, I suddenly remembered how once I was deeply impressed when I heard Pakhtoons break into an impromptu song. The melody of it was still in my mind,” said Bhattacharya.

However, it was not an easy task convincing the two Pakhtoon singers to lend their voices to the theme song. Bhattacharya said that initially, they were reluctant but after much persuasion, they finally agreed.

Bhattacharya is hopeful that the song will make visitors empathize with the Afghans and their suffering in the war-torn country.

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