Lives of Jats are filled with stories, traditions and rich culture of expression.In every sect of Jat population, be it Hindu,Sikh or Muslim, folklore represent the soul of Jat's way of living. Ladies often sing these folklore and popularily are called as 'Geet'.There are geet for almost every occasion.Though all states populated by jats are rich in their culture of folklore, Haryana has its own taste and richness.
Haryana is rich in folklore. As noted elsewhere, the region is inhabited by simple, unsophisticated people, with traditions of their own. While of straight and frank disposition, they harbour deep emotions and a sensitive nature which have found expression in a rich body of folk culture.
In a more specific and significant way, folklore will include spontaneous expressions of emotions, song and drama, dance and music and other creative forms of individuals and group life.
Folk Dances of Haryana
The dances is said to be the mother of all arts. Music and poetry exist in time; painting and architecture in space. But the dance lives at once in time and space. The creator and the creation, the artist and his work, are one and the same thing. The dance is not just a form of recreation but something needed to release physical and emotional energy. Folk dance, like any other creative art, helps in sublimating the performer's worries and cares and enables him to lose himself in the sheer ecstasy of uninhibited movement. The dancer becomes amplified into being endowed with supra normal powers. His personality is transformed. Like yoga, the dance induces trance, ecstasy, the experience of the divine, the realization of one's own secret nature, and finally mergence into the divine essences.
Folk dances all over the world have common themes. These may depict seasons, festival, religious rituals, harvesting, hunting etc. Haryana dances come under one or the other category. Broadly, the following dances are common in one area or the other and performed on specific occasions.
Ras Leela: This dance is common among the people living in the 'Braja' area of the Faridabad district. Lord Vishnu has been manifest in many incarnations. He is the Supreme Embodiment. He is Lord Krishna. The 'gopis' of Braj Bhoomi, the simple milk maids, are his true devotees. Krishna chooses them as the finest examples of human beings, for they willingly surrender their all to the Lord, one by one. Their pride, their ego, their ignorance, their possessiveness-they lay them at his feet. Radha, the most beautiful of gopis, proud of her beauty and power over men, is the last surrender to the utter bliss of the Lord. Jayadeva, the composer of Gita Govinda tells her story in lyrical verse; the story of the eternal struggle of the human being; the Ras Leela becomes a dance of spiritual ecstasy with God pervading the world as His own Self and as the selves of the dancing gopis. The gopis from a circle around Krishna. In this circular dance, the bracelets, anklets, and the bells of the gopis sound together in perfect harmony. Gopis, moving in rhythm, sway their bodies gracefully.
Phag Dance or Phalgun: This is a seasonal dance through which the agricultural people express their joy and vigour. During the months of February-March (Phalgun), they have leisure between sowing and har-vesting. The crops are grooving well, the spring is on, and the rural folk express themselves through and song and dance.
In this dance, men and women group together. The rhythm takes them on to an emotional expression through their hands, eyes, and feet. The dance involves a variety of movement, requiring sound coordination. Women wear traditional costumes in different colors. Men similarly display different colors in their turbans and sashes. They sign in the ancient Daamal style, a combination of dance and song, the origin of which dates to the hoary past. Sometimes it is performed by men only. The songs are different in 'men only' and mixed dance.
Daph Dance: Daph dance is also a seasonal dance connected with the harvest and spring. It depicts the joyful emotions of the farmers. Men and women of all sections of the village community participate in this dance, through separately.
As early as the forth century A.D. the drummers of Rohtak and the Yaudhaya melodies based on ragnis set the fashion for the cultural world in the northern region of India. For melodic instruments the ancient Haryanavis used flutes, lutes and beens (snake-charmer's flute).
The daph used in this dance is also an ancient instrument. The songs are most suited to the occasion.
'Daph bajain, manjira bajain sung, Desh maharo rang barso.'
(Daph and Manjira play together and make the occasion joyful.)
The sound of the ornaments worm by the women also becomes a part of the dance-orchestra.
Dhamal Dance is as old as the Mahabharata. It is popular among the Ahirs of Gurgaon district. It is also in vogue in Mahendargarh and Jhajjar. The dance, which is rooted in the deeper emotions of the people, is performed on moonlit nights of Phalgun, when the winter veil of fog and mist is lifted from the face of the earth and whisper of spring is in the air; an exotic sight, indeed. Free from the cares of life for the time being, the dancers assemble in an open space and form themselves into a circle. They start with a song to the sound of Dhamal beats:
'Daph madhur bajai, Chhora Lil-gar ka, daph madhur... Aiso bajai jal Jamuna munir, Jamuna ka nir, madhur ho jai'
(Oh son of the dyer, play the dhamal with such a beautiful rhythm that the waters of Yamuna may hear and become intoxicated.)
Other folk songs which are sung during the dance relate to the burden of love and labour. They depict the villagers' hopes, description of changing seasons, tinkling of cattle bells returning home from the golden wheat fields, and emotional outbursts of newly-weds.
Between fifteen and twenty dancers participate in the dance. Old musical instruments like sarangi, been, dholak and khartals constitute the orchestra. First of all the orchestra men make a line and start playing folk tunes. The dancers move in front of them, emerging from right and left and the dance starts. According to legend, this dance depicts the story of Draupadi and Kichak of the Mahabhartata.
Loor is a well-known dance of Haryana. It is performed around the Holi festival and is very popular in the Bangar and Bagar parts of the region. In the Dadri area, the term 'Loor' is used for a girl. The participants in this dance are all girls.
The dancers stand in two rows, facing each other, in the form of a semi-circle. One party starts a song, the burden of the song being:
Your bahu (daughter-in-law) has given birth to a daughter, and a son is born on this side; why not marry the two?
The dance starts with this song. For quite a while they discuss this problem. Finally the proposal is accepted. The next topic is about the presets to be given by the parents of the son to the girl at the time of marriage.
Marriage itself is performed through the dance. Now the girl has reached her susral or the in-laws' place. There, full of sentiment, the mourns in song and dance; the husband is away in the army and not expected back for another twelve years. The unhappy girl addresses an imaginary pigeon and she persuades it to convey her message to her husband. She continues her song and dance till the pigeon returns and sits on her shoulder.
(Fly, fly away, oh you pigeon).
The pigeon informs her that her husband is coming home soon. Hearing this her joys knows no bounds. The rhythm and tempo of her song now increase. Her companions, who have come to congratulate her, circle around her and take the dance to its climax.
Gugga Dance: Gugga Pir has several names - Guru Gugga, Zahir Pir, Bagarwalla, etc. Gugga is worshipped practically all over Haryana and devotees are scattered over the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal.
The Pir (saint) was born on Bhadon Naumi at Dadreva village in Bikaner (Rajasthan). The day is celebrated as Gugga Naumi all over northern India. Gugga is said to be a Chauhan Rajput. Colonel Tod is of the view that his name was Bachhraj. According to a folk legend he was married to Kumari Sirial, daughter of Raja Sanjha of Kamrup. He is equally worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims. About a week or two before Gugga Naumi, his devotees take out a procession, led by a bhagat, carrying Gugga ki chhari-a strong and long bamboo stick, decorated with fans, garlands, flower and colored pieces of cloth. Five 'bhagats' (Panch Vir) are the main dancers. They carry their own musical instruments in their hands, consisting of dholak, manjiras, deru (a small side drum), chimta and cymbals. The bhagats sing songs in praise of Gugga.
The dance starts with a song,
Pahle paire bania pir main Parat palna paiya Duje paire bania pir main Paras Ram kahlai
(First I was declared Pir, when I was in my cradle, and next when I used my arms against my enemies.)
The dance is very simple. The dancers' feet move according to the rhythm of their songs. As the tempo increases, they beat their chests with iron chains, tears rolling down their cheeks.
These dancers move around in Haryana villages during the month of Bhadon. It is an exclusively male dance and falls in the category of ritualistic dances. Though simple, it creates an atmosphere charged with spiritual fervour among the devotees of Gugga.
Jhumar Dance: This dance takes its name from jhumar, an ornament commonly worn on the forehead by young married girls. It is performed exclusively by women. They form a circle and move gracefully, accompanied by the beats of dholak and thali. There are many variations, each with its own distinctive rhythm. The dancers lose themselves in gay abandon, dressed in colorful costumes. The performance lasts several hours. A girl comes forward and breaks into song:
Kori kori chandi ki chandri ghari, oupar gharya
nagina, hai mana tari sohn, Phagun ka must mahina aiya
[My chandri is of pure silver, decked with a nagina (jewel), O mother, the intoxicating month of Phagun has arrived.]
Another girl then steps forward, swaying rhythmically with perfect poise. The second line of the song is shared by both. The tempo increase as the dance proceeds. The other girls do not leave their places but keep on singing the song and clapping their hands or against each other's. there is a short pause before a new line of the song is started.
This dance resembles the well-known Punjabi gidda and is thus named Haryanvi Gidda. It is common in all parts of the state.
Ghumar Dance: Some dances receive their inspiration from religion. The gods and the elements are invoked to shower their blessings on the labours of a community.
Ghumar is a Rajasthani dance but is popular in Laharu, Dadri and some parts of Hissar and Bhiwani, bordering Rajasthan. The dance is performed by women devotees on their way to the temple. Young women and girls carrying brass plates of offerings in their hands go to the village temple, singing devotional songs. The dance is performed on Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi, festival of spring, or on the occasion of the local ceremony of Gangor Puja.
Brass plates in hand, girls make a circle and start singing. The musicians strike a chord and as soon as a tune begins to take shape and gain momentum, the dancers put their offerings aside forming a large circle and dancing gracefully with uplifted arms to the simplest beats. Slowly the dance gathers momentum, the swaying become frantic, reaching climax.
Khoria Dance: This dance is a variety of the Jhumar dance, performed by women only. It is popular in the central areas of Haryana, and is connected with the daily life of the people and with the most important events like the harvest.
Singing a folk song, the girls enter the dancing place and make a ring. The simple movements acquire form and color with the swirling of their full gold-work skirts and colored chundries and the gleam and jingle of heavy rustic jewellery. The graceful steps give place to a faster tempo until two or three pairs of the girls break from the ring into the center with crossed arms joined together, swirling on the axis of their feet, while the girls in the ring clap to the beat of the drum. In final stage the dance is around the circumference.
Holi Dance: This exuberant dance is connected with the seasonal festival of spring, when the rural community rejoices and relaxes after the completion of their agricultural operations. It is performed in various formations to the accompaniment of drums and pipes. Both men and women participate. Percussion instruments like dhol, jhanjh, chimta, khartal and thalis, and anklets on the feet of the dancers produce the rhythm. Abir, gulal and colored water is sprinkled on each other by the dancers. The dance is accompanied by the Chaupies and Chambaulas which sustain the performance for hours. Womenfolk often use twisted ropes, kolras, to mock-beat their counterparts, the menfolk; not even a guest is spared. The dance is popular in Faridabad, Palwal and Ballabhgarh. It is also performed in other areas.
Gangor-Puja Dance: This dance is performed in villages bordering Rajasthan. It is a ceremonial dance of women in connection with Puja ceremony of Iswar and Gangor (Lord Shiva and Parvati). Dressed in colorful costumes and jewellery, with brass jars on their head, the women move in circle, the movements and the pattern of the dancers are an important element in the performance. It is a devotional dance to invoke the blessings of the gods for good harvest and is usually performed in the months of Phalgun and Chait. Sometimes the dance takes the form of a Kirtan, associated with the love of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The girls enter the circle one by one, dancing and singing devotional songs. The dance continues for hours.
Folk Music Haryana has rich traditions of folk music. Interestingly here even villages have been named after classical ragas. For instance, in Dadri tehsil, which now forms part of the new district of Bhiwani, several villages have names related to well-known ragas. These are Nandgam, Sarangpur, Bilawala, Brindabana, Todi, Asaveri, Jaishri, Malakosha, Hindola, Bhairavi, Gope Kalyana, etc. Similarly, in Jind district there are Jai Jai Vanti, Malavi.
The folk music of Haryana broadly falls into two categories.
(1) Classical form: The group of songs that is closely linked with the classical form of singing comes under this category. The themes of such songs are usually mythological. Allah, Jaimal-Phatta, Barahmas, some Teej songs; Phag and Holi songs belong to this group.
(2) Countryside music: This group includes legendary tales, such as Purana-Bhagata (Rag Maand), ceremonial songs, seasonal songs, ballads etc. Its music as a whole survives in cross-cultural traits of social rapport. In such songs Jai Jai Vanti, Pahari, Bhairavi, Kafi, Jhinjhoti, and Bhairav ragas are used. Raga Pilu is also used in some songs sung by the Ahirs, using a scale with twelve semi-tones.
The main credit for popularizing folk music in Haryana goes to Jogis, Bhats, and Saangis. The Jogis use sarangi as an accompaniment to their songs. They are proficient in singing Allah, Jaimal-Phatta and other heroic ballads. With their rich melodies and resonant, appealing voice, they used to be common sight in Haryana but their kind is now disappearing, being on the verse of extinction. According to official estimates, there used to be as many as six hundred Jogis and Bhats in 1942 in the two districts of Gurgaon and Rohtak, but now only a few are left. Many migrated to Pakistan in 1947, some went to Delhi, while others left the profession altogether in favour of manual labour.
Folk Musical Instruments There is a great variety of musical instruments which are an essential accompaniment of folk music. Most of these are common to the whole of northern India. Broadly, these falls into three categories: stringed, wind, and percussion.
Iktara: This is a single-stringed instrument which is played with the fingers. It is made from a piece of bamboo about a meter long, with a large gourd attached to one end. The other end of the stick is inserted into the hollow of the gourd resonator, which is covered with hide. Before singing, the singer hums gently, feeling for the right pitch. The sound of the string keeps the drone of his basic note. This instruments is generally used by Jogis (bards).
Dotara: As the name suggests, it is a two-stringed instrument and serves the same purpose as Iktara.
Sarangi : This is also a string instrument played with a bow, which is made of long strand or strands of animal hair, fixed on a bow-shaped stick. This instrument takes a prominent place as an accompaniment to the main singer. It is about 60 centimeters long, made by hollowing out a single block of wood. For tuning, four pegs are fixed in it to set the strings according to the pitches of twelve semi-tones. Some sarangis have thirty-five to forty sympathetic strings running under the four main strings. It has for long been a folk instrument used by the common people, particularly the bards for their simple music. In the seventeenth century the sarangi was considered a suitable accompaniment to the new style of classical music. In Haryana, this instrument is seen with some wandering bards as an accompaniment to singing their folk songs. It is also used during a swaang performance (rural theatre).
Been: This wind instrument is mostly used by snake charmers. Two small bamboo pipes are fixed in a hollow gourd. One keeps the drone of the basic note, producing a monotone, and the other one is used for producing tunes by the performer. The player blows into the gourd and his fingers move smoothly on the finger-holes of this double-reed instrument. It is used in many folk dance performances.
Bansuri (flute): This is one of the earliest wind-instruments called by many other popular names like veena and murli. Seven round holes are bored in a hollow piece of bamboo stick. There are several varieties of this instrument, some are held straight, away from the face, while others are held transversely, parallel to the eye-brows as was used by Lord Krishna.
Shehnai: This is a common instrument, seen on occasions of marriages. This is also a wind instrument. The modern experts have brought to this instrument a fluidity comparable to that of a stringed instrument.
Shankha: This is a most ancient wind-instrument known to man. In India it is considered very sacred, being regarded as one of the attributes of Lord Vishnu. Before using, the shankh is drilled in such a way as to produce a hole at the base, taking care that the natural hole is not disturbed. The instrument is often used in temples and sacred shrines. It produces on a drone. In ancient times, the shankh was used on the battlefield, to alert the warriors. On the battlefield of Mahabharata, the shankh used by Lord Krishna was called 'Panchajanya.' The instrument can be used to produce peculiar rhythmical effects too.
Harmonium: Though not originally belonging to India, the harmonium is now commonly seen at all cultural performances. It is used by swaangis and Bhajnis in Haryana as an accompanying instrument.
Dhol (drum): This is a two-sided drum, played with two small wooden sticks. A barrel-shaped wooden drum is covered with skin on both sides. There are numerous varieties of this instrument. It is used on the occasions of marriages, festivals, wrestling matches, dance-performances, etc.
Dholak: This is a smaller version of dhol, mostly used by the Ahirs of Gurgaon district.
Daph: This is a one-sided drum and serves as accompaniment to dances, particularly Dhamal dance, popular in Mahendargarh district. It is very simple in construction, consisting of an open circular frame with only one side covered with skin. It can be played either by hand or with small sticks. It is also used on festive occasions.
Khanjari: This is a small variety of daph, with the only difference that the ghungrus are fixed around it. It is generally used in solo dance performances.
Damru: This is a very small drum, shaped like an hourglass. It is an attribute of Lord Shiva who is said to have played it during his Tandava Nritya (Cosmic Dance). It is used as an accompaniment for devotional and ritualistic folk music, especially in Gugga dance. It is also associated with magic shows by jugglers.
Deru is a bigger version of Damru but serves the same purpose.
Nagara (Naqqara): This is also a one-side-drum but large and heavy and rests on the ground while playing. Its body is made of copper. It is played with two large sticks. It is a relic of feudal times when state announcements were made with the beat of the nagara.
Jhil: This is a smaller version of nagara and is played with small sticks. It is always placed on the left side of the nagara. It is really a part of the nagara like a pair of tabla.
Taasha: This is a one-sided earthen instrument played by two small sticks. It is used on ceremonial occasions and some times also on the occasion of a dance performance.
Ghora: This earthen pitcher is the cheapest instrument played on different occasions to keep only the rhythm.
Cymbals: These are two big round pieces of bronze which produce metallic sound during a dance or other occasions.
Bells: these are used generally in temples during aratis, kirtans, and other devotional performances.
Ghungrus: These are worn by a dancer around his/her ankles to give force and effect to the dance. It also helps in producing rhythm.
Khartal: These are small ghungrus fixed on two small wooden pieces and are struck together to keep the rhythm according to the tempo of other instruments.
Chimta: This has long and flat iron pieces, joined together on one side with some small bells fixed to them. They are used during Swaang and also in temples on some occasions. It is a rhythmic instrument popular in Haryana and the neighbouring states.
Manjira: This is a pair of metallic cymbals used for producing rhythm. It produces a pleasant sound and is used mostly as accompaniment to devotional music and more frequently during dance performances. It is also used by Jogis of 'Naath Parampara' during their prayers.
Folk Songs The folk songs of Haryana depict the life of the people in all its variegated hues and colors, with all its joys and sorrows. There are songs befitting all occasions, every aspect of life being portrayed in a most lively and imaginative way.
The hunting melodies of love-lorn couples find expression as the month of Phalgun (February-March) approaches, and again with the coming of Sawan (July-August) fancy runs riot in wishful romantic dreams. Meetings and separations, birth, marriage, changes of seasons, harvest festivals, rain, drought-there is always a befitting song and each occasion is commemorated through verse and rhyme.
In Phalgun "the mad month of Indian spring", when thunderous beat of the kettle-drum awakens youth's feelings and the air filled with the fragrance of the neem blossoms tickles the heart of young maidens, they become impatient and feel forlorn. They sing out their feelings. To her mother the maiden says.
Sown, O mother mine, is the field of dhania To look after the field I went thither. Two birds, O mother mine, were flying, A fair one, and a smoky one. The fair one, O mother mine, was flying straight, The smoky seemed to sun sideways. Have you, O smoky, forgotten thy path? Neither O beauty, I have forgotten the path, Nor are you married to my father's son. I am, O beautiful one, your companion. If you follow, I shall take you along.
The coming of monsoon in Sawan arouses romantic feelings and young married girls desire nothing so much as to return to their parents to celebrate the season. The mother-in-law is duly approached for permission.
There comes, O Sasar, the month of Sawan, Let us to our father's home proceed, O, my bride, who are thy accompaniers who've come? With whose permission you'll proceed? To your father's home indeed? O Sasar, brother, the accompaniers 've come. With your permission I'll proceed. To my father's home indeed.
The mother-in-law would not object to her going but what about the field and domestic affairs; who will do these jobs in her absence?
Who will do the hoeing? Who will grind the allotted grain? Who, O my bride, will wash my head? And who will fry the Kasar?
The intelligent bahu works out the problem very ably:
Elder Jeth, O Sasar, will do the hoeing: Elder Jethi, O Sasar, will grind the allotted grain, The Barberess, O Sasar, will wash your head, The Barberess will fry the Kasar.
Sometimes even very complicated social problems are discussed through the medium of songs. The growing daughter, like the exposed treasure, is always a worry to the father and he admonishes her to guard her youth. But she, over powered by youth, faces the father and uninhibitedly demands early marriages.
Father, if I had known this, Youth I would have dumped to earth, I would've sold it like spice At a very, very, high price. Father, if I put it on a hunger, It risks a fall. Father, if I put it down, The cat'll nibble it all.
The father advices patience and says:
O, patience, my daughter Let patience be your guide, A cart I'll load with dowry A buffalo will be yours.
Indignant at this, the girl bursts out,
Father, I shall set fire to your dowry fair, Let your buffalo be under a thief's care. Father, youth lasts days four, It is a juggler's show and nothing more.
Some songs reflect the impact of modern influences. A newly-wed girl wants to have a fashionable shoe (sandal) to replace the one made by the village cobbler. She demands it of her husband, accompanied by a threat to leave him if he fails to comply:
Bring me high-heeled shoes of foreign brad If it is not within your reach, Let me to my father's home return, Dispose of the grove, the farm-land, Bring me the tinkling anklet. If it is not within your reach Let me to my father's home return.
Let us come back to the month of Sawan, the bewitching season during which also falls the Teej festivals.
The seasonal songs of Teej and Phalgun resemble the popular Kajri and Jhula of Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh and the Jhuman songs of Rajasthan. The melody of the rainy season has always been a familiar theme for the poets and singers. Such songs express the feelings of lovers of nature whose hearts beat in unison with the rhythm of rain. The poet sings of the changing phases in life, the coming of the bride, separation of lovers, the rain which breathes new life into the parched earth, and so on.
Such songs are widely sung and may be heard in Haryana village, as indeed all over rural areas in northern India.
As the rainy season commences, swings are hung from the branches of neem, mango or pipal trees and young girls and bridges gather together to sing and make merry. The climax is reached on the Teej when the whole atmosphere resounds with sweet melodies. Some typical songs are given below:
Jhulan jangi hai ma mari baag maan re Aye re koi sang-saheli chaar Jhulan jangi hai ma mari baag maan re Ko pandara ki ma mari, koi bees ki re Aye koi sang saheli, chaar. Jhulan Koi gori hai ma mari, koi sanwari Aye re koi. . .
(My own mother, I am going to the swing in the garden. A few of my companions are also coming. Some of my friends are fifteen, while others may be twenty; some are of very fair complexion while others may be wheat-colored.
Teeja ka teuhar ritu sa saman ki khari jhool pa matka chhori bahman ki kuan tun ounchi peeng chhadawa kuan par ka naar turao yah larag larag ka dali jaman ki Teeja ka. . .
(It is the festival of Teej and the season of Sawan. The Brahman girl is playing pranks, standing on the swing. Why do you swing so high? If you fall, it will break your neck. The branches of the jaman tree are all trembling.)
The month of Phalgun which is the harbinger of spring, has inspired very powerful songs. It can be an occasion of great joy but it may also arouse nostalgic feelings and give rise to pangs of sorrow if lovers are separated. The rejoicings of others only add to the sorrow by contrast.
The following song depicts a young girl, parted from her husband; Phalgun to her becomes a season of poignant pain.
When my dear husband is away, O you mad month of Phalgun, why have you come? What is the use of your coming? O, my husband, when the whole of Phalgun has passed away? Other young couple are dancing and making merry, while I am sitting alone, deep in sorrow. When there is darkness in my heart, why has the moon appeared in full light? My mind is as if dead, and tears flow from my eyes, they never stop, my heart has dried up. Why then, O you shameless Phalgun, why have you come?
But Phalgun is the time of merriment. In another song, womenfolk, gathered together under moonlit nights of Phalgun sing joyfully:
Phalgun is short-lived; it lasts only a few days. Youth and Phalgun have come together. Waves after waves rise in my mind, which, oh, my Sakhi (companion) can never be fathomed. Sweet love has come with all its fragrance, which has stirred my whole body. My intoxicated heart is going astray; it wants to make love.
But rural life is full of hardship and romantic situations occur once in a while. The following song gives the contrast:
No one should be so unlucky as to be married in the dry and rainless Hissar district. There, fast-blowing wind uproot the trees, and sand-storms are unlimited. There are sand-dunes after sand-dunes.
(The above might be true of the past, before the coming of the Bhakra Project. Hissar is no longer that dreary ad dry land.)
All the same the life of the village women is packed with hard, monotonous, wearisome chores. The day commences with the tedious job of the chakki (grindstone). To lighten the tiresome labour, the woman sings:
The Peessina (grain) awaits to be ground, and the pat (upper stone slab of the chakki) is heavy. The tyrannical mother-in-law awakes me while the night is hardly half past. When I come to the chakki, there may be a serpent about and it would be just as well if it strikes me, for it will put an end to all domestic disputes.
But that is not all. After finishing all the jobs at home, the woman has to go to the field, where her husband is ploughing the land. It may be the hot season of May and June and by the time she reaches the field it can be scorchingly hot. On the way she meets another woman, her saheli (friend), and it occurs to them to seek a little relief from the burning sun, under the cool shadow of the mango tree nearby. The two women break into a song:
Come, O companion, let us go under the shade, as it is full noon now; hot winds are blowing, which burn the very body, it being the middle of the day.
On hearing the song a bird sitting on the tree joins in the refrain with its 'coo coo coo ho' and the women in turn respond through another song:
On hearing the 'coo coo' under the mango tree, our hearts began to beat fast . . .
Martial Songs: Haryana is by and large a martial region, and large numbers of people take to the army as a career. There are many popular songs pertaining to this, for instance.
Oh my husband, join the army and vindicate that you are a true warrior; go and fight the enemy and bring credit to your parents. Face the cannons fearlessly by baring your chest; Oh, my husband . . .
During the First World War, a large number of persons had joined the army and many of them were in the famous 6th Jat Regiment, which won renown for its fearless flighting, but it suffered very heavy casualties. The following song was on everybody's lips in those days:
The enemy threw heavy bombs, which burst in the sky. Dust enveloped the whole atmosphere and the soldiers had to run away leaving their food behind, uneaten. Only God may help the wives of those who serve the 6th Jat.
Here is another in a light vein. The wife a soldier, who is away in the army, thus addresses her mother-in-law through a song:
Oh my mother-in-law, get a daman (heavy skirt) ready for me, which should be large enough to whirl about; also a green-colored shirt, where I shall keep my time-piece.
The mother-in-law in turn asks the daughter-in-law,
Oh my bride, tell me what you will do with the time-piece.
And the daughter-in-law says in reply,
Oh, my mother-in-law, don't you know I am the bride of a soldier and need a watch every moment.
Folk Theatre (Swaang) The tradition of folk theatre in Haryana is very old. Plays, to begin with were staged in the open, with the audience sitting around. A combination of music, dance, poetry and speech was called Natya.
In Hindu mythology, the gods themselves figure as supreme dancers. Brahma created the Natya Vidya and Bharat Muni wrote a book by the name of Bharat Natya-Shastra. According to this, drama was created not merely for pleasure but for elucidating moral truths. In the play Ocean of Milk, Shiva and Parvati appear as dancers.
The first Sanskrit drama emerged from the festival of Indra's Banner, which celebrated the triumph of the gods over the demons. Out of this developed the heroic play (nataka) depicting the godly kings of the epics.
Folk theatre may be placed under two categories: (a) temple based religious theatre with Indian epics and Puranas being the source material for characters; and (b) community-based secular theatre, of minor forms and lighter variety.
In reality several themes are mixed together - mythological love, popular history, and religious themes, all with overtones of secular values.
Haryana Swaang follows in the old tradition, being the most popular variety of performance based on the 'open stage' technique. It is an all-male cultural troupe of twenty to thirty artistes, including the director, producer, musicians and actors. The female roles also are played by males, due to the segregation of sexes.
But female troupes are not altogether unknown. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the present, all women Swaang troupes performed in western U.P. and the adjoining 'Khadar' area of Haryana. The parts were played by women. Sardari of Kalyat (Jind), Natni of Gangaru, and Bali of Indri (Karnal) were some of the leaders of such troupes.
The origin of Swaang is traced to one Kishan Lal Bhat, who some two hundred years ago laid the foundation of the present style of folk theatre. Another view gives credit for this to one Kavi Shankar Dass, a poet artiste, who belonged to Meerut. The stage was most elementary, the actors performed from a central place among the audience. The light was provided by mashals (Roman torches).
A notable early pioneer was Ali Bux of Rewari, who successfully staged Fasanai, Azad and Padmawat. For music and song, these early Swaang drew on khayals and chambolas.
In Haryana the most celebrated name is that of Dip Chand Bahman of village Sheri Khanda in Sonepat. He is still in public memory and is popularly styled as the "Shakespeare' or 'Kalidas of Haryana'. Semi-literate, he had a spark, a touch of genius. He polished the style of Ali Bux and gave a new color to this folk art. The Swaang of that time had two categories: (i) Kirtan style and (ii) Nautanki style. Dip Chand's style of performance incorporated elements from music, dance, pantomime, versification, and ballad recitation.
During the First World War, when Dip Chand's capacity for improvisation and adaptation was at its peak, the British Government made him a 'Rai Sahib' and granted him other favours. His catchy song-compositions with martial tunes attracted large recruits to the army. The haunting tune of one of his songs was on everybody's lips:
Bharti holai ra tara bahar khara rangrut Yahan rakhta madhham bana Milta ha phatta purrana Vohan milta hai full boot Bharti ho lai ra. . .
(Come and join the army; the recruiters are waiting outside your door: you have only old worn out clothes to wear here, but there-in the army-you will get full-boots.)
Among Dip Chand's many contributions to the folk music of Swaang, the outstanding one is that he opened the eyes contemporary singers and music lovers to the prime importance of voice-culture and voice-modulation and the supreme value of emotion in music. He was truly the king of emotions. It was his genius that chiseled off all the harsh crudities and angularities of the old style of the stage and lent it a polish and glow. Among his talented disciples may be mentioned Hardeva Swami of Golar (Rohtak), Bhartu Brahman of Bhainsru (Rohtak), Qutbi Doom and Khema.
Hardeva skillfully polished his guru's Chambola style and made some improvements in Haryanvi ragni (folk song). Bjae Nai, disciple of Hardeva, beautifully mixed both the styles of folk music, thus creating a greater mass appeal. Pt. Nathu Ram, another well known Swaangi coached a number of talented pupils, which included Maan Singh, Bulli, Dina Lohar and Ram Singh.
Pt. Lakshmi Chand of Jantti Kalan (Sonepat) is the next most celebrated name in Haryana after Dip Chand. He improved the ragni style of singing. He possessed a very rich, melodious voice and was also a successful composer. The important Swaang staged by him included Nal Damyanti, Meera Bai, Satyavan Savitri, Poorjan, Seth Tara Chand, Puran Bhagat and Shashi Lakarhara.
The large number of disciples he left behind included Pt. Mange Ram, Mai Chand, Sultan, Chandan and Rati Ram.
The stage of Swaang does not require the elaborate arrangements of the modern dramatic performances. There are no curtains or a green-room for make-up. There is only a square wooden platform of about three and a half meters. The rest is all a display of skill and stamina of the artists who perform as long as six hours. They do not use loudspeakers.
An hour or so before the show, the musicians of the orchestra begin to create the proper atmosphere. The artistes sing some religious or other songs connected with the play. Then the 'Guru' appears and the artistes touch his feet to evoke his blessings. The play opens with a song bhait in praise of the Goddess of Knowledge (Bhawani).
Ay re bhawani baas kar maira ghat ka parda khol Rasna par basa kara bhai shudh shabd much bol
(Oh Goddess Bhawani give me enlightenment.)
With a brief introduction about the play, the performance starts. The Haryana Swaang has enriched itself by borrowing and adopting a variety of themes. It embraces romances like Sorath, Nihalde, Padmawat, Nautanki, etc. There are historical and semi-historical themes based on epics, such as Raja Rissalu, Kichak Badh, Draupadi Chir Haran, Amar Singh Rathor, Sarwar Neer, Jaswant Singh, etc.
Themes of old literature, such as Gopi Chand, Bhartari Hari, Harishchander, Raja Bhoj, etc. are also adopted. Mythological themes like Prahlad Bhagat, and Punjabi romances like Pooran Bhagat, Heer Ranjha, etc. have become part of the vast and varied themes on which the Haryanvi rural theatre operates.
Folklore Woven Into Songs-Allha An account of Haryana's folklore would be incomplete without the mention of 'Allah' folklore woven deftly into songs.
'Allah', a popular ballad, belongs to the medieval times. In the thirteenth century of the Vikrama era the Gaharvaras (Rathors) of Kanauj and the Chauhans of Delhi were the two paramounts of northern India. The former dominated the whole of Madhyadesa (Bundelkhand) from Kanauj to Kashi. The latter controlled the area from Delhi to Ajmer. Chandela Raja Paramardi Dava (Parmal) of Kalinjar was a vassal of Jaya Chand. The Chandels of Kalinjar alinged themselves with the House of Kanauj against Prithviraj Chauhan. Jagnik, a bard at the court of Chandela Rai Parmal, is said to have depicted the heroic exploits of 'Allha and Udal' (Udai Singh), in a ballad called 'Allha Khand' (circa 1230 Vikram era.)
These warriors according to legend, were chieftains of the Banafar Kshatriya clan and consequently they are remembered by the surname Banafar Rai or Banafal Rai in 'Allha'. The original work of Jagnik is not extant anywhere but it became so popular that folk songs based on it are current up to this day in Hindi speaking rural communities throughout northern India.
The Allha songs were first discovered by Charles Elliot, at one time Collector of Farrukhabad District (U.P.), and were published for the first time during the nineteenth century. These songs have undergone many changes but they still convey the essence of Jagnik's ballads. The stirring memory and fame of Allha Udal, Malkhan, Chhach Sayyid, the bewitching consort of Allha, Machalda Nar, and a host of other names, still ring in every villager's ears. 'Alha' is mostly sung during the rainy season. The deep, vigorous and full-throated voice of the Allha singer reciting in a steady resonant tone to audiences in the community-halls (chaupals) of Haryana villages rises high amid general commotion and excitement. Here are two typical lines:
Barrah baras tag kukar jiyen, aur terah tag jiyen siyar, Baras atharah chhatri jiyen, agai jiwan ko dhikkar.
- Haryanavi Folk Lore (हरयाणवी लोक साहित्य)
- Rajasthani Folk Lore (राजस्थानी लोक साहित्य)