NOKPANTE unveils Me'Gong Festival theme song, fusing tribal and modern music
NOKPANTE (file photo)

With Meghalaya gearing up for a season of winter festivities, Tura-based music producer NOKPANTE announced the release of the official theme song for the Me’gong Festival. The song titled ‘Megong Bibal’ was released on Friday at an event in District Auditorium, Tura, by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

Organised by the Meghalaya tourism department, the Me’gong festival is scheduled for December, promising a delightful celebration of fun activities and performances.

Mikhail Marak, the founder of NOKPANTE, revealed that ‘Megong Bibal’ was a year in the making. Speaking to EastMojo, Mikhail said, “It all began when the tourism department approached me to create a theme song for the previous year’s Me’gong festival, which had to be cancelled.”

“In Shillong, there is the Cherry Blossom Festival, so in Tura we have the Me’gong festival. The last Me’gong festival happened in 2021,” Mikhail shared. With a fan following of over 75,000 people, Mikhail’s YouTube channel premiered the song ‘Megong Bibal’ on Friday evening, garnering thousands of views. He announced that the song will be on Spotify on Saturday.

In 2022, due to tensions along the Assam-Meghalaya border, the Me’gong festival was cancelled. Now, with peace in the region, it’s making a comeback in December, to offer an array of music, cultural activities, and adventure experiences.

Mikhail said, “Its a good thing the official theme song release was delayed because by now everything is better planned. Good things take time.”

When asked about his inspiration for the song, Mikhail said, “The song is about what happens around this time of the year when the Me’gong flower (Bauhinia purpurea) blooms. The festival’s theme is a celebration of the flower and its role in ushering in seasonal celebrations. I wrote the song in a way that it symbolises the onset of the festive winter season.”

“I am always open to working with fellow musicians,” said NOKPANTE founder Mikhail Marak.

Mikhail has written, composed and produced the song, featuring local talents Cherry Mrong, Remo Wancheng and CrackGang. “Since the song is about the blooming of a flower, I felt that strong vocals of a lady singer would fit the lyrics. I have also incorporated rap elements into the song. I am always open to working with fellow musicians and promoting local talent.”

Me’gong flower blooming. (Photo credit: Flickr/Dinesh Valke/ CC)

For 35-year-old Mikhail, it’s about representing Garo culture through his art. He blends folk culture elements with contemporary music, incorporating traditional Garo instruments like the Gongbina and Dotrong to create a unique and celebratory sound.

Asserting a love for his roots, Mikhail shared, “I am a lover of my own Garo culture. And I always thought that whenever my music reaches people’s ears, my label should have a name that represents my culture. That’s how I named my brand ‘NOKPANTE’, which is a Garo word meaning a traditional bachelors’ dormitory. I try to bring back forgotten folk culture and traditional lifestyle through my songs. Even in modern, commercial songs. Garos from the Garo Hills can resonate with them, I believe.”

NOKPANTE‘s music captures the heart of Garo culture, taking listeners on a journey through their traditions. The lyrics of ‘Me’gong Bibal’ include references to Garo lifestyle, such as “meals wrapped in banana leaves”, “bon-fires”, “rice cakes”, “playing the drums all night long”, “dancing with shoes off”; making it resonate with many in the northeast.

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Earlier this month, Mikhail released another Garo song ‘Pangna Ka’saa‘. When asked about his future plans, Mikhail Marak said that he has written and composed Garo songs till now but plans are underway to connect with a broader audience outside northeast and collaborate for songs in English and Hindi too.

He added that he is set to perform at the Cherry Blossom Festival in November, and in several other upcoming events organised by the Meghalaya government, the details of which will be announced soon.

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