The right beats

Forging harmony through Punjabi folk music and dance has been this school principal’s passion. Harpreet Bajwa learns how he found his rhythm

Published: 25th September 2022 08:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th September 2022 10:02 AM   |  A+A-

The team trains about 500 youths every year in Bhangra, Giddha, Malwai Giddha & Gatka for free; they have also hosted over 50 folklore festivals in Punjab so far | EXPRESS

PUNJAB: For more than 25 years, Dr Davinder Singh Chhina has trained over 4,000 youth in Bhangra, Giddha, Malwai Giddha and Gatka free of cost. He has also participated in 107 World Folkore Festivals in 26 countries and organised 50 such festivals in Punjab.

Posted as principal of Government Senior Secondary School at Shahpur near Ludhiana, Chhina, 55, says he started training students in traditional dance forms to popularise the folk music and dance traditions of Punjab. “My mission is to strengthen international cooperation, multiculturalism, peace and folkloric relations among cultures and communities of the world,’’ he says.

The year 1994 saw Chinna leading the Punjab team as a part of the National Cultural Exchange Programme celebrated across the country. “I was posted as a science teacher at Government High School of Bir Bansian in Jalandhar district. It was my first posting since I got a government job. I realised it was time to motivate the younger generation to take the state’s rich culture to the national level,’’ he says. Since then he has taken Punjab teams to 29 national festivals in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana, Odisha and Maharashtra.

Punjabi folklore traditions came under the global gaze in 2001 as a dozen-strong team from the state participated in the World Folklore Festival in Lithuania. “A year before that, I saw a multicultural extravaganza at Sydney’s Olympic Park. For the first time, I saw folk artistes congregating at one place. That was an encouraging and enriching experience for me,” says Chhina. Since then, there is no looking back.

Chinna and his team train around 500 youths every year. Only 10-15 are shortlisted to take part in the global festival. “Ours is a self-funded initiative as all participants pay for their ticket. Organisers pay for boarding and lodging, besides local sightseeing,’’ he says. Chinna, who is also the director of the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council, says the other trained youths take part in the events organised by the NGO.

He has hosted over 50 World Folklore Festivals in Punjab since 2002. “We went to Slovakia in 2002. They were mesmerised to see our culture and expressed a wish to visit Punjab. Later that year, we hosted a 16-member Slovakian group in Ludhiana,” says Chinna.

Since 2006, Chinna has facilitated nine additions to the Amritsar International Folk Festival in which global folk groups participate. “I take leave from work to participate in such events. I ensure that I train the youth on weekends and holidays, and do my job in the school as well,’’ says Chinna, who has received a state award, besides many appreciation letters from several countries.

This year, the Punjab team participated in an event in Bulgaria and secured the third position. Dharminder Singh Rataul, under-secretary, Khalsa College governing council, says Chinna is committed to global cultural harmony. “By organising folk festivals, he has brought diverse cultures to one platform,’’ says Rataul.

Davinder Singh Chhina, 55, says he started training students in traditional dance forms to popularise folk music and dance of Punjab. “My mission is to strengthen international cooperation, multiculturalism, peace and folkloric relations in the world,’’ he says.


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