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Sunday, May 26, 2024

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Hills Festival: Embracing music and culinary delights

The stage was set for a memorable day of performances by artistes like The DO-POS, Kido Alph, Reble, SVDP, Kamari, McLivin, Parimal Shais, Kreon, and Smokey on the vibrant first day of the festival.

By Aparmita Das | UMBIR:

Amidst the alluring fragrance of the air and the tantalising aroma of food, people strolled in their own worlds at Lume’r Pyngngad, Umbir on Friday. The distant sound of Nikhil D’Souza’s voice echoed through the air as he and his band meticulously fine-tuned every note during the sound check. Donned in denim pants, a black and white striped t-shirt, and a sky-blue shirt was Nikhil.

As the anticipation built for his performance on the first day of The Hills Festival, a scene unfolded against the melodic backdrop of the sound check and the lively activity of food stalls being set up. In a designated area, children immersed themselves in a storytelling session, accompanied by the creative pursuit of drawing—an enriching experience orchestrated by The Forgotten Folklore Project (TFFP) in collaboration with the Sauramandala Foundation, featuring the book Ilari’s Jaiñsem.

The stage was set for a memorable day of performances by artistes like The DO-POS, Kido Alph, Reble, SVDP, Kamari, McLivin, Parimal Shais, Kreon, and Smokey on the vibrant first day of the festival.

Sitting near the Lakeview, around the backstage, was Siengriti, waiting for their performance at the festival. Siengriti is a group from Wahkhen, that comprises 14 members ranging from age 10 onwards. They receive training every Sunday in Wahkhen, focusing on traditional musical instruments and instilling moral values. Their primary goal is to revive Khasi culture, encompassing traditional dances and mastery of instruments like “ka bom,” “tangmuri,” “bisli,” and “duitara.” Additionally, they sing “jingrwai iawbei” (songs about nature).

The performance commenced promptly at around 4 pm, marking Siengriti as the inaugural act on The Hills stage. The rhythm and beats were flawlessly executed, with not a single miss throughout. The precision with which the children orchestrated the beats on traditional drums showcased impeccable choreography.

Kanaklata Pait at her Mising Ethnic food stall

Not far from the stage, tucked in a corner of the food court, Kanaklata Pait’s stall offered slow-cooked delights. “I’m from Guwahati. Discovered The Hills Festival online, applied, and here I am. In today’s fast-paced world, people often overlook hygiene and the value of traditional fire cooking over gas. I bring my Mising tribe’s flair with prawns, crabs, silkworm, etc. It’s a source of pride for me to showcase my people’s food and cooking,” Pait explained, as a customer promptly requested a serving of crab dish.

In no time, the crowd steadily gathered around the stage, and the spotlight was on Do-Pos. This six-member band, featuring a lone female artiste, engaged with the audience with their music from the very start. The radiant smiles on their faces worked like magic, prompting people to groove to the rhythm even if they weren’t familiar with the language. The enchanting harmony between the male and female singers left everyone in awe – a musical experience that lingered in the air long after the performance concluded.


Taidy Momin on guitar, Cheerfield Sangma as the vocalist, Changing Marak on drums, Solace Marak handling the bass, Cheringchi Marak contributing vocals, and Bindu Marak on the keyboard – a powerhouse ensemble. Post-performance, The Meghalayan caught up with the band.

“We formed the band last year, and this is our debut at The Hills Festival,” shared Taidy. Cheringchi expressed, “We hail from different districts of Garo Hills. I used to be a solo artiste, and now, being part of this band is an amazing experience.”

“Saobade (Somebody) is our favourite from today’s set. Performing it felt absolutely incredible,” added Cheerfield, encapsulating the band’s exhilaration after their memorable performance.

As the evening descended, Lume’r Pyngngad sparkled with fairy lights, drawing more people in anticipation. It was time for Nikhil D’Souza’s performance, the same man seen earlier during the sound check. Now, he wasn’t in denim shorts but in black jeans.

Just before Nikhil graced the stage, the crowd was mesmerised by Kido Alph’s dynamic performance, infusing hip-hop flair and Garo rap that had everyone singing along. Following a brief intermission for stage preparation, Nikhil confidently seized the spotlight.

Kido Alph

“I want to show the artiste side of me… written many songs, never sang… will sing them today,” Nikhil declared. “I wrote many songs, but only a few made it to the recording. This song I just sang has never been heard before. You all witnessed it for the first time,” he shared, unveiling an unreleased song penned during his time in Nashville, USA.

Nikhil D’Souza

Nikhil’s gig culminated with his resonant song, “Because Because Because,” captivating the audience. Post-performance, The Meghalayan caught up with Nikhil, who expressed, “I have always had a special place for Northeast India… artistes always have their best gigs here because of the ‘listening’ crowd. Even today, as I sang unreleased songs, people were attentively taking in every word. And that’s the best part about performing here.”

Reble performing with Jowai Alleviate Choir

Following Nikhil’s performance, Reble enthralled the audience with the sheer brilliance of her lyrical prowess, spitting bars that left the crowd spellbound. As her performance reached its crescendo, she introduced an unexpected and delightful twist. The atmosphere crackled with excitement as Reble extended a warm invitation to a choir group from Jowai, seamlessly weaving their harmonious voices into the fabric of her performance. The collaboration added a dynamic and soulful dimension, creating a memorable and immersive experience for the audience.

The Hills Festival, all in all, exuded a warm, intimate atmosphere, as Nikhil observed, where attendees genuinely embraced both music and culinary delights.

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