Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday presented the maiden `Mahasangeet Samman` and `Sangeet Samman` to 18 well-known singers at the inauguration of an annual eight-day music fair here.
Among those given the Mahasangeet award were Bangladeshi artist Firoza Begum, legendary Bengali singer Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, classical vocalists Girija Devi and Ajoy Chakraborty, Rabindra Sangeet exponents Dwijen Mukhopadhay and Sumitra Sen and folk singer Amar Pal.
The Mahasangeet Samman, comprising a cash segment of Rs.1 lakh, was given to eight singers. Ten others got the Sangeet Samman which included a cash award of Rs.50,000.
The chief minister personally feted all the singers.
The annual Bangla Sangeet Mela was started by the erstwhile Left Front regime in 1997 to provide a platform to all genres of Bengali songs.