A die-hard fan of Bob Dylan, this 60-year-old folk singer is also known as the father of Naga folk-blues

Imphal: For nearly three decades, Guru Rewben Mashangva, a Naga folk connoisseur from Ukhrul district of Manipur, has been relentlessly preserving and promoting the rich culture and traditions of the Nagas, especially the Tangkhul community, through his unique folk-blues.

Guru Rewben Mashangva needs no introduction in Manipur. He is well-known for his unique ethnic folk singing blend with a modern touch which sweetens the ears of not only the elders but well acquainted even among the youngsters.

In recognition of his rich contribution to art, Guru Rewben, who is popularly known as Awo (grandfather) Rewben to his peers and the community, was conferred with the Padma Shri on the 72nd Republic Day celebration on January 26. After Major Bob Khathing, he is the second person from the Tangkhul community to receive the fourth-highest civilian award from the Government of India.

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Speaking exclusively to EastMojo from his Nagaram courtyard in Imphal, Guru Rewben expressed his happiness over his recognition and acknowledgement from the people of the country.

“This is awesome. I wasn’t expecting to get the fourth-highest civilian award from the Government of India. It is not just me, but the whole family and friends are happy over this achievement,” said the noted folk musician, who hails from Choithar village.

Initially starting as a choir singer in the church, Guru Rewben found his passion for folk music while listening to village elders singing the Tangkhul Naga folk songs and telling their ancestors’ stories.

It took him years to familiarise with the rhythms and tunes of the folk songs before his first public performance in 1992 during the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) conference in Ukhrul.

Since then, this noted folk musician has penned down and composed over 30 folk songs, apart from the songs he developed for films and documentaries.

A die-hard fan of Bob Dylan, this 60-year-old folk singer is also known as the father of Naga folk-blues.

What is even more unique is that he customised his own musical instruments like Tingteila, a traditional violin type instrument, which took him about seven years to suit his music and Yankahui, a long traditional bamboo flute.

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