Songs of Longing and Seperation

Unlike any other music of the world, hindustani classical music is not only abundant with songs for various moods of the human mind, but also songs for every hour of the day and season of the year. Monsoon, being an unique phenomenon in this part of the world, has an important place in our music.

Kajri (or Kajari), derived from the Hindi word Kajra or Kajal, (meaning Kohl or Black), is a genre of Hindustani classical music, popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In a country of sizzling hot summers, the black monsoon clouds bring with them relief and great joy. This is the moment for the Kajri to be sung.

It is often used to describe the longing of a maiden for her lover as the black monsoon cloud come hanging in the summer skies, and is often sung during the rainy season. It comes in the series of season songs, like Chaiti, Hori and Sawani, and is traditionally sung in the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh : around Benares, Mirzapur, Mathura, Agra, Allahabad and the Bhojpur regions of Bihar.

Rasoolan Bai – Tarsat Jiyara Hamar :  (Download)

Begum Akhtar – Koyaliya Mat Kar Pukar :  (Download)

Birha (or Biraha) is another popular Folk song genre of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This genre is mood based and the basic theme revolves around the separation of lover and his beloved. Actually ‘Birha‘ in Hindi means separation. The history of this genre is not very old and the earliest reference goes back to 17th century.

The possible origination of this folk genre is credited to the incidents where mostly men from small villages used to migrate to cities in search of livelihood. Often they had to leave their newly-weds behind in the village. The lament of separation from both the motherland and spouse led to the birth of Birha. The genre is extremely popular among the farmers and laborers in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan – Naina More Taras Gaye :  (Download)

Siddheshwari Devi – Tadpat Bin Balam :  (Download)

In the mid-nineteenth century thousands of laborers from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were taken to Caribbean (West Indies) as sugar plantation laborers. In fact, the laborers and their descendents who now constitute a sizable population in the Caribbean still love this song genre. The best example of this is the growing popularity of Chutney Music, the Soca-Samba version of Birha, in the west especially in the Caribbean Islands.

Note : The songs posted above do not necessarily come under the genres of Kajri or Birha. These are merely reflective of the mood of the post. Songs of longing are also sung in the form of Thumri and Dadra.

indianraga

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1 Comment

  1. Ashutosh Shastri said,

    April 15, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Hi,
    Just came across your blog…superb contribution to Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet! Commenting specifically on the music of UP -the music of the seasons- the Chaitis, Dadras, Kajris Thumris, Tappas and Birhas, one cannot help but recall Smt. Girija Deviji (Aapa-ji)….the atmosphere that is created is second to none…

    I would never have known about the link of this awesome genre of music with that of the Soca-Samba…Thank you for that!


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