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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Indian 'Bob Dylan' record-breaker
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

The hills of Meghalaya were alive with the sound of Dylan (Photos: Subhamoy Bhattacharjee)

The hills of north-east India may seem an unlikely place to reverberate to the tones of nearly 2,000 people playing a Bob Dylan classic.

But that is what happened when 1,730 guitarists played one of the great man's songs in a bid to break a record in the state of Meghalaya.

The guitarists hope their achievement will now earn them a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

If confirmed, it will be the second Meghalayan record-breaker in a year.

Last year, 7,951 drummers from across the state broke the record for the highest number of drummers to perform collectively.

Tourist destination

"Ours is surely the largest guitar ensemble in the history of the world," claimed RG Lyngdoh, the chairman of the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF).

Guitarists in Shillong
Meghalayans are guitar-mad and love Dylan

The current Guinness World Record is held by a guitar-ensemble from Kansas City in the US in June last year.

On that occasion 1,683 guitarists, played Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water.

The Meghalayan guitar-ensemble, like the drum ensemble last year, was part of the autumn festival that the MTDF holds every year in the state capital, Shillong, to promote the state as a tourist destination.

On Friday the gathering of guitarists - most of them amateurs - met at the city's Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.


Later in the evening - organised by MTDF officials - the guitarists started playing the immortal Bob Dylan classic, Knocking on Heaven's Door.

Officials say that they counted the number of people participating in the event five times over.

They announced that no less than 1,730 guitarists played the song together on Friday.

Bob Dylan is perhaps a natural choice for Meghalaya's music-mad population.

Officials closely monitored the number of guitarists
Officials at the event insist a record has been broken

The picturesque state - often called "Scotland of the East"' for its striking similarities with the Scottish Highlands - has been celebrating the legendary singer's birthday with a gig for the last 35 years.

But unlike last autumn's drum ensemble, Shillong will have to wait a while to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records.

No Guinness representative could make it to Shillong on Friday, so the Meghalaya police chief Bijon Dey Sawian was asked "to judge" the event and send them a detailed report.

"I am sending them recorded visuals according to the Guinness norms along with my report," Mr Sawian told the BBC.

He said the Guinness will make an announcement after examining his report and video recordings.

"Every youngster in Meghalaya either owns a guitar or knows how to strum one. So beating Kansas City's record was not a problem," said the MTDF's vice-president Larsing Ming Sawian.

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