Kalimpong: The pipes and drums band of Kumudini Homes, a government higher secondary school in Kalimpong, West Bengal, is all set to mesmerize audiences with their rhythms and repertoire in Basel, Switzerland, come July 15.

The school’s pipe band has scripted history by becoming the first from India to be selected to perform at Basel Tattoo, a grand annual military event, where elite military and a few non-military bands from around the globe impress audiences with a peerless musical show.

Inspired by the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo promises magical moments as the sounds of bagpipes, impressive dance choreographies, wind-instrument music and drumming all come together to create spine-tingling moments for the spectators.

Kumudini Homes school

Tattoos are basically musical performances or ceremonies that include marching bands, and precision drills.

Speaking to EastMojo, teacher and band instructor Priyadarshi Lama, who will be leading the school’s 20-member contingent to Basel, said Kumudini Homes is also the first educational institution to ever be invited to perform in the history of Basel Tattoo.

“Besides presenting a bagpipe formation, the pipes and drums band of Kumudini Homes will also perform the famous ‘khukuri dance’ in the mega event,” he said.

Lama, who has been the band instructor of the 87-year-old school since 2010, said the khukuris (machetes) for the performance will be provided by the Swiss armed forces as they would not be allowed to carry the same while travelling.

Lama said the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport of Switzerland would be sponsoring the travel and accommodation for him and his team.

According to Lama, Kumudini Homes was one among the first schools in Kalimpong to start the pipes and drums band back in the 1940s.

“I am told that the school’s pipe band was quite popular in the 1940s and the same lasted until the 1970s. However, the lack of instruments and instructors saw the band diminish. It was then in 2010 that the band was revived again and has since, achieved great heights,” Lama said, thanking former school Principal Yangden Ghisingh who played an instrumental role in facilitating the revival.

School band with Priyadarshi Lama

Lama also thanked Kumudini Pariwar, an alumni association of the school, the teachers and all the sponsors and well wishers who have helped the band in its journey in the last 12 years.

Kumudini Homes teacher-in-charge Bhupen Karthak said the school band’s selection for Basel Tattoo is not just a moment of pride for Kumudini and Kalimpong district, but for the entire country.

“This is also an achievement of the citizens of Kalimpong who are fond of band displays,” he said.

Band displays by various schools is one of the major highlights of the Independence Day celebrations in Kalimpong.

Celebrated as a mega festival that lasts for 2-3 days, the Independence Day celebration in Kalimpong can easily be compared to that of the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi and festivals like Diwali and Christmas.

The Kumudini team will be flying for Basel from Mumbai on Sunday (July 10) to take part in the imposing festival.

The 15th edition of the event would also witness performances from elite military bands like the Swiss Army Central Band, Band of Her Majesty’s Welsh Guards (United Kingdom), His Majesty the King’s Guard Band and Drill Team (Norway), United States Air Force Honor Guard (USA), etc.

Scottish singer-songwriter Cameron Barnes and Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a celtic rock band from Scotland are also scheduled to perform at the show which will conclude on July 23. (With inputs from baseltattoo.ch)

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