Harehills folk festival sashays into fifth year

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Organisers of a folk festival set up to tackle ‘radicalisation’ say they will go ahead with the event, despite claiming to have been by some that it was ‘forbidden’.

Ahmed Kaysher, speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, said he had been told by numerous locals that the festival, which includes music and dancing, was not permitted by some religions in the area.

He said: “The year before last we actually met with some clerics and they told us this was forbidden and asked us to move the festival to another area. I did not want to do that, this is all about being inclusive and trying to tackle radicalisation. Part of the reason fof us setting it up was to make it inclusive and get people involved in the community and so far we have been very successful in doing this.”

This will be the fifth year that the festival has been held. It will begin on Saturday December 5 at noon at the Reginald Centre, Chapeltown with another event on Sunday at the Bangladeshi Centre, Roundhay Road.

He described the event as “a hugely colourful, diverse and one of significant world-art events in the city” adding it attracted “audiences from London, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Sheffield, Oldham, Bradford and other neighbouring towns.”

He went on: “The festival had targeted initially to bring the socially excluded people [such as] Asian women of the local area into the mainstream activities through popular art forms like folk music and include as many British Asian young people into music and dance to tackle growing extremism in the community.

“But within [the] last five years, quite fortunately it became the event of recreation and entertainment for all and it attracted national coverage and attention from audience from all over the country. This year, we have special performances to attract as many wider audience as possible.”

The festival will be inaugurated at 12 (noon) at Reginald Centre in Chapeltown and then a whole night performance will start from 7pm at Bangladeshi Community Centre, Roundhay Road.

The performance involves folk poetry recitation, folk music session with Dhamail dance, multi-cultural folk music and folk dance, informal Adda and short plays.

The performances of the second day of the festival (6 December) will start from 12.30pm (mid-noon) at Bangladeshi Centre in Leeds which involves brief discussion by local MPs, councillors and researchers on folk music, and then the performance of folk music composed by RadhaRaman Dutta and spectacular Dhamail dance by local women and children groups as well as prominent guest artists from all around the country.

Curry will be served free as lunch and the event is free for all in the community.