Description of Haryanavi Folklore-1

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The Legends

Legends are the basic foundation folk music, dance and drama of this region. Hundreds of legends available are the basic forms of folklore which have been constantly rendered in various performing forms. Many of the legends have their origin in Sanskrit classics, some of which are from Mahabharata period and a good number is from Pauranic literature. The legends like Draupadi Cheerharan, Keechak Vadh, Nala-Damayanti, Bhartari Hari, Gopi Chand, Raja Bhoj, fall into this category. Then come the legends connected with the Nath sect of Guru Gorakhnath. In these legends, Puran Bhagat, Gopi Chand, [Raja Risalu]], Chaurangi Nath, Masht Nath are the prominent themes. The legend of Nihal De, Dhola Maru, and Sorath represent the classics of medieval times. It is interesting to know that some of the legends are of migratory character. For example the hero of the most popular legend of Haryana namely 'Sorath' belongs to Sorashtra with the name of Rao Khengar who was a historical figure. This gives the impression that the wandering bards in the medieval times made this legend popular in the whole of the area from Sorashtra to Haryana. The legend of Sorath is also popular in Gujarat and Rajasthan, and same is the case with Nihal De and Dhola Maru. With slight variations, the theme is the same and even characters have been retained, with only local color added.

Some of the legends have such a treasure of stories that its singing used to continue for months together. For example 'Nihal De' is generally rendered by the jogis (folk-bards) for full one month on every night can save the cattle of the village from disease. It has a cycle of stories connecting the main plot beautifully and artistically. Two jogis to the accompaniment of a sarangi, with three strings, sing Nihal de, Sorath, and a number of other legends. The singing of these legends has remained very popular through the ages.

Folk musical drama is called Swang or Saang. Legend sequences are also rendered through Katha Geets and even folk dances. Marvan the beautiful princess of Singhaldweep married to Raja Dhol of Narwargarh, is the most popular character of the folk songs sung by village ladies.


It is gratifying to note that one hundred years ago Sir Richard Temple, a great folk-lorist presented compilations of the legends of Punjab in a number of volumes. The study of these volumes reveal that 70% of the legends compiled by him have their origin in Haryana. The remaining 30% compiled by him from Punjab are generally, connected with post-Muslim period and none of them relate to Indian classics. This also proves that the folk-lore of this part of the land is deep rooted in its cultural heritage. So much can be written on each legend describing their theme, their artistic and poetic elements, their connections with Sanskrit classics or connection with the great legendary heroes or men of history, but here only a bare introduction is possible.

The Ballads

Generally no apparent difference can be noticed between the legend or a ballad, yet when we classify them, a ballad is all together different from a legend. A legend generally presents a popular love lore along with a number of stories of heroism or romanticism weaved within the main plot, but a ballad generally covers heroic deeds of a particular hero. The heroes of these ballads are mostly historical figures. The themes of the ballads generally originate in the chivalry of a particular clan. The ballad singers rendered these stories with an objective of inspiring the descendants of a particular clan by singing the heroic traditions of their ancestors. This is the reason why most of the ballads have their origin in the Rajput and Muslim periods. The ballad of Bhura-Badal tells of the valour of Bhura and Badal, the cousin brothers of Rana Rattan Singh who fought fearlessly with king Allaudin Khilzi for the release of Rani Padmini. The ballad of Haadi Rani explains the details of that historic events when the brave princess, newly married, offered her head to boost up the moral of her husband who was fighting the Badshah of Delhi. Likewise the ballads on Amar Singh Rathaur, Fatta-Jaimal, Panna Dha, Jawahar Singh, Jaswant Singh etc. depict the valour and heroism of Rajput heroes. The passage of time gives birth to the new ballads also whenever a heroic battle is fought. For example, the ballad on Bhau composed by a folk-poet Nighani, gave a historic account of the Third Battle of Panipat fought between Maratha hero Sadashiv Rao Bhau and Ahmed Shah Abdali. In Haryana, a number of new ballads originated in 1857 when the masses fought fearless battles with the firangis. The heroic ballad of Rao Tula Ram gives a pictorial account of the battle of Nasibpur near Narnaul. Thakur Pema Ki Ghori is another ballad depicting the struggle of the people of Bhiwani area who fought very bravely to maintain the freedom of the land. This brief account of the character and contents of the ballads proves that this form of folk entertainment was used not only to entertain the people but was also a source of pride towards their ancestors and heritage. The ballads remained an effective instrument of infusing the spirit of heroism among the people of this martial land.

Among this category of ballads there exist some ritual ballads also. Special mention must be made of the ballad Gugapeer. Though apparently the ballad is of heroic character there is a deep element of mysticism and ritual attached to it. Guga who was a Rajput prince fought a fearless battle with two of his step-brothers Arjun and Sarjun. He presented the chopped heads of both his brothers to his mother who not only rebuked him but also ordered him not to show his face to her. In disguise Guga went to the deep forest and requested the mother earth to give him shelter. Dharti Mata appeared and told him that being a Hindu, he could not take shelter like this and he must convert himself into a Muslim and mother earth took him in her lap. In Haryana and Rajasthan and some parts of Punjab also the Guga is worshiped by both the Hindus and the Muslims. There are hundreds of Guga-ki-Mairis where ritual singing of Guga's story is rendered by singers called Sammiyas.


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