Garhwali Music

Songs of Garhwal region reflects a basic simplicity and uncomplicated emotions, largely derived from the environment of the peace, tranquility and the open nature all around. The themes of songs are understandably linked with various agricultural activities, their main stay and the great love for the land. Not unexpectedly, certain socio-economic problems figure in the songs like floods, droughts and ill treatment of the people. Some folk songs narrate stories of bravery and legends.

Nanda Devi Raj Jat 2000

Folk Songs
The tradition of folk songs is much alive in the rural areas. In villages, women sing these folk songs while working in the fields or collecting fodder in forest. There are many styles of group singing, sometimes, accompanied by rhythmic dances. These include “Jhoda” and “Thadya”. “Khuded” songs echo the sad feeling of young bride pinning for their far-away paternal homes. “Mandals” songs recite on the occasion of marriage, thread ceremony and other “sanskars”. “Panwaras” songs are composed to record heroic deeds and sing in praise of worriers.
Folk Music
The folk music of this area is generally rhythmic which is reflected in the dynamic style of folk dances. Songs related to ‘Sansakaras’ and seasons are melodious but the rest are musical as they are played on the rhythm of the musical instruments. 
The traditional folk musical instruments of this area are ‘Dhol & Damoun’, ‘Daur & Thali’, ‘Turri’, ‘Ransingha’, ‘Dholki’, ‘Masakbhaja’, ‘Bhankora’ etc. Nowadays, Harmonium and Tabla are also in use. The traditional instrumentalists ‘Auji’, ‘Badhi’, ‘Bajgi’ have made a great contribution in the folk music of this area. ‘Dhol & Damoun’ are played together by ‘Auji’. These are main folk musical instrument of the area and are played on most of the occasion. These are played on the basis of Dhol-Sagar’, a ancient ‘granth’ of ‘Shankar Vedanth’ or ‘swar-sagar’ containing ‘Dhol’ rhythms for each occasion. “Daur & Thali” are played on the occasion of “Ghandiyala” with ‘jagar’ songs and dances. “Turri” and “Ransingha” are the instruments of war. These are made of brass or copper. “Bhankora” is played only by the upper caste on the occasion of “Dev-Poojan”. “Dholaki” is generally used by the traditional instrumentalist “Baghi” or “Dhaki”.
Chhopati
These are the folk songs popular in the Rawain - Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal. 'Chhopati' are the love songs sung between men and women in the form of questions and answers.
Chounphula and Jhumeila
"Chounphula and Jhumeila" are among seasonal dances, that are performed from 'Basant Panchami' onwards to 'Sankranti' or Baisakhi'. 'Jhumeila' is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women. 'Chounphula' is performed by all sections of the community, at night, in groups, by men and women. 'Chounphula' folk songs are composed for the appreciation of nature on various occasions. Chounpala, Jhmeila and Daryola folk songs all derive their names from the folk dances of the same nomenclature.
Mangal
Mangal songs are sung during marriage ceremonies. These songs are basically "Puja Songs" (hymns) sung along with the Purohits (Panditjee/priests) who keep chanting "Shlokas"(verses) in Sanskrit according to the Shastras (scriptures) during the marriage ceremony.
Puja Folk Songs
These songs are connected with the Puja (worship) of family deities. There are other Puja songs connected with 'Tantra' and 'Mantras ' to exorcise evil spirits from human beings.
Basanti
"Basanti” folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers bloom and new life springs in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song is sung individually or in groups.
Jaggar
Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spirit worship, in the form of a folk song or, at times, combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and is sung in honour of the various Gods and Goddesses.
Bajuband
This is a folk song of love and sacrifice among the shepherds. It is a love dialogue between a man and woman, or, between a boy and girl.
Khuded
These folk songs depict the suffering of a woman caused by separation from her husband. The women curse the circumstances under which she has been separated. This is generally when the husband is away looking for a job. 'Laman', another folk song is sung on special occasions, expressing the sacrifice that a man is willing to undergo for his beloved. 'Pawada' also belongs to this category of folk songs, when sorrow is felt when the husband has gone to the battle field.
Chhura
'Chhura' folk songs are sung among shepherds, in the form of advice given by the old to the young, learnt from their experience, particularly about grazing sheep and goats.
Narendra Singh Negi
Narendra Singh Negi is one of the most prominent folk singers of the Garhwal. Born near Pauri town in Pauri Garhwal District, Negi started his career as a folk singer in his early youth. His distinctive voice and prolific career made him a household name amongst Garhwalis both in India and abroad. He has sung hundreds of songs and produced almost a hundred albums relating to almost all social and cultural aspects of Uttarakhand. In years past, he has also sung sad elegies to Tehri town, recently inundated by the Tehri dam, as well as fiery protest songs during the Uttarakhand separate state movement. In 2007, the Calcutta-based Telegraph called him the "Dylan of the Hills" for his 2006 protest song, Nauchami Narain, against Chief Minister ND Tiwari and the entire political class of Uttarakhand. In the past decade Garhwali Music has seen a revolution after the offer by various Music Recording / Cassette Producing agencies such as Rama Video Cassette and T Series who have offered new talents from local areas to make their own Cassettes after getting their songs recorded in the Studios.
This has led to a sudden surge of a number of hidden talents from various corners of Garhwal which include famous personalities such as Kalpana Chauhan, Meena Rana, Anuradha Nirala, Pritam Bharatwan, Gajendra Rana who have made their contribution to the Garhwali Music by various hit songs / music albums over the period. Some of the hit songs / albums being Gajendra Rana's "Malu", "Rani Gorkhani", "Leel Ghasyari", "Pushpa"; Pritam Bhartwan's "Saruli", "Rajuli" and many other hit albums / songs.
With advance in Technology and easy availability of videocams and other recording devices, lots of talents have started producing music albums which has further led to popularization of Garhwali folk dance. In fact, Garhwali songs have gained so much popularity over the years that they have become integral part of the DJ Music being played during wedding and other functions. With the rapid growth and popularity in Garhwali Music and folk dances, the day is not far when any cultural / social functions / weddings / festivals / Discotheques would have some elements of Garhwali Music and folk dances as an integral part.

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