Meghalaya craftsman awarded Padma Shri
Risingbor Kurkalang (L)

Shillong: President of India Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday conferred Padma Shri to Risingbor Kurkalang from Meghalaya for his outstanding contribution to the field of Art, specifically for his mastery of traditional instrument making and folk music at the Civil Investiture Ceremony.

Kurkalang, born on November 19, 1978, in a family of farmers in Laitkyrhong village, East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, developed a passion for traditional music at a young age and drew inspiration from his grandfather.

He began making various traditional instruments and became proficient in playing them all.

In 2001, he started manufacturing these instruments for sale and became the first person from his village to do so.

In 1990, Risingbor Kurkalang’s career as a musician and music craftsman received a significant boost when he was invited by a group of traditional musicians in his village to record at All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra for their programs dedicated to traditional music. Since then, he has extensively travelled around the state and country, showcasing his talent in preserving the Khasi traditional folk music and dance while making handmade instruments with a sense of understanding for the quality of sound and form.

Risingbor has participated in several exhibitions and workshops, including the workshop on traditional music/traditional musical instrument making organized by the Government of Meghalaya. He also participated in the Vadya Darshan organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2002 and the 2nd Thoh Shun International Art Camp in 2006. He performed in the International Festival on Inter-Cultural Dialogue between North East India & South East Asia in 2010.

In 2021, Risingbor composed and played the song entitled ‘Mei Mariang’ from an album titled ‘Sai-thainki Sur’ by the Khasi-Cymru collective, which was released on Naxos World. He was also invited by Gareth Bonello, a Welsh musician from Wales, United Kingdom, to perform with him at the Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodhpur in 2022.

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Risingbor Kurkalang has received several awards and recognition for his outstanding contribution in preserving the Khasi traditional folk music and craft of instrument-making. He was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for his participation in the workshop on the making of traditional musical instruments organized by the Government of Meghalaya in 2008.

In 2021, he received the Martand Singh Memorial Award from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi, in the Handicraft Category, which came with a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

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