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The ASEAN Music Festival at Purana Qila: An Electrifying Evening

You’re in for a real treat when SEHER organizes an event in collaboration with the Government of India. The ASEAN Music Festival at the Purana Qila is one of the best sensory experiences I’ve had in recent times.

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As I walked in to the well-maintained and beautifully-lit ancient monument, I felt I’d stepped back in time. The gorgeous dome-like structure and its charismatic surroundings are perfect for all manner of cultural events. The Ministry of External Affairs and SEHER have been using this extraordinary venue for many years. SEHER’s expertise lies in conjuring a dreamy atmosphere from mere dust and boulders.

With its theme of “Shared Values, Common Destiny”, the festival seeks to promote regional cooperation between all members of ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations). As such, it provides a solid platform for singers and bands from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam as well as some home-grown artists.

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Only the best of the best are invited to perform, exposing our Indian audience to interesting musical talent they may not ordinarily seek out. However, the real crowd-pullers are the popular Indian singers.

The gorgeous, colourful stage set in front of the imposing qila, and a first-rate sound and light system, ensured a seamless event. A separate seated area is cordoned off for VIP’s but the real fun was standing on the grass, dancing with the crowd!

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I attended Papon’s performance and it was wonderful! He’s most famous for hits such as “Kyon!” from Barfi, “Bulleya” from Sultan and “Moh Moh Ke Dhaage” from Dum Laga Ke Haisha; but also has some foot-tapping Assamese tracks to his name. He really stands out as a stage performer. By sharing anecdotes between songs and constantly encouraging everyone to sing and dance, he really engaged the spectators. The air was absolutely electric.

The rest of the line-up for today and tomorrow include:

Saturday 7th October:

Kong Sothearith (Cambodia)

Red Bamboo (Viet Nam)

L’alphalpha (Indonesia)

Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band (India)

Finale Act: The Raghu Dixit Project

Sunday 8th October:

Nam Fon Indee (Lao PDR)

A Band Once (Brunei Darussalam)

Asia7 (Thailand)

The Ransom Collective (Phillipines)

Finale Act: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

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There are no seats, and no food or drink stalls. This may be a deterrent for some, but was a surprisingly good measure for crowd control. There is a huge parking lot and the cafeteria of the zoo is open for simple refreshments. You are allowed to bring your own food/drinks inside.

With truly exceptional live performers and a stunning backdrop, the ASEAN Music Festival at the Purana Qila delivers a world-class concert. The cherry on top- it’s absolutely free!

Event rating: 5/5 stars

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