There is perhaps no debate that folk songs are one of the most vital cornerstones of Bengali music. Similarly every nation in the world has its own folk heritage, each different and unique on the basis of history, geography and experience.

Seeking to highlight its significance to the people and revitalize Bangla folk music, like every year, this year Dhaka International Folk Fest (DIFF) kicked off where artists from not only Bangladesh but from around the world are rocking the stage, while enchanting Dhakaites with the wealth of the musical heritage they carry with them.

The opening day of the Fifth edition of DIFF saw a huge crowd waiting patiently only to get lost in the music of roots at Bangladesh Army Stadium Thursday. Spanning three days, the fest will be entertaining the public till November 16.

Fifth edition of Dhaka International Folk Fest (DIFF) was dedicated to six lost legends of Bangla music ---Fakir Abdur Rob Shah, Subir Nandi, Bari Siddiqui, Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul and Ayub Bachchu.

Bhabna Nritya Dol led by Prema had the honour of opening the fest with their mesmerising dance moves with beats of Bengal.

With their soothing tune, Georgian folk band Chveneburebi took the stage later but first they surprised the audience by speaking in Bangla --- "Swagotom Dhaka! Tomra kemon acho?" ('Welcome Dhaka! How are you?') and the response was an eruption of applause.

Founded in 2001, the group has gained popularity by playing different types of folk. In addition to touring , members of the group are contributing to revitalise Georgian folk culture by collecting folk songs from different regions of Georgia.

Following their performance consisting of the folk tunes of Georgia, the official inauguration took place where Planning Minister MA Mannan inaugurated the festival as the chief guest.

He remarked that it is essential to get the new generation introduced to the tune of folk culture and loft the spirit and love for people. The crowd large in number had some enthusiastic faces scattered all over.

Ehsan, a student of a private university said his love for folk music and rich history of rural Bangladesh drives him every year to this jolly and refreshing show.

The excitement of the audience reached another level when phenomenal Shah Alam Sarkar, the unique artist, songwriter and composer of Bangla Baul songs took the stage and captivated those in attendance.

The artist famous for his contribution to folk literature and song of the country sang epic tracks like, 'Ami Jaare Bashi Bhalo', 'Kalar Bashir Shure Mon Udashi' and many more.

After his enigmatic performance, a more electrifying one was put on by Daler Singh, popularly known as Daler Mehndi of India who is widely known for putting Bhangra folk songs on map.

Touted as 'The King of Bhangra', year after year he gifted the audience of subcontinent melodious and pumping tracks like 'Bolo ta ra ra ra' and 'Tunak Tunak'. Daler was recently awarded 'Best Live Performer' by Global Indian Music Awards (GIMA).

The following day of DIFF saw equally enthusiast crowd who were entertained with mesmerising performances of Bauliana singers Kamruzzaman Rabbi and Shafikul Islam, legendary Bangladeshi folk bard Kajol Dewan, Pakistani sufi singer Hina Nasrullah.

Special praises for popular Bangladeshi folk singer Fakir Shabuddin for his heart touching melody and traditional appearance spreading the Baul vibe among the audience.

Malian singer Habib Koité and his band Bamada rocked the stadium with Malian folk music following Shahabuddin. The folk artist, with the magic of guitar and melody also created an enchanting atmosphere and expressed his gratitude towards Bangladesh in between tracks.

The event drew the highest number of visitors on the final day where epic folk voices like Malek Kawal, an eminent Qawali singer of the country, Russian folk band Sattuma, singer Chandana Majumder and Pakistani folk band Junoon performed lively through the night touching the audience's folk-loving soul.

Arranged by Sun Foundation, the co-hosts of DIFF 2019 include Meril, Dhaka Bank Limited and Radhuni.

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