Pundela : cry of the Roma

What do the legendary comedy actor Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood stars Yul Brynner and Michael Caine, and rock star Elvis Presley have in common? Well, they all have Romani ancestral roots, and thereby an Indian connection. Dispersed over five continents, the Roma (or Romani), often known as gypsies, cygany, gitanos, manush or romani, are in fact one people united by their common roots, identity, culture and language, Romanès, with its many different dialects. The Roma have travelled the world since leaving their ancestral home of India about 900-1100 years ago. Influenced by each culture whose path they have crossed, the Roma have, in turn, inspired those with whom they have come into contact, partly through their unflagging love of freedom and their music, often central to their existence. But, for centuries the Roma have been exiled from different lands, persecuted, and even exterminated for their bohemian lifestyle.

Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Romanies originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards the northwest. The Romani are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 B.C. In the centuries spent here, there may have been close interaction with such established groups as the Rajputs and the Jats. Their subsequent westward migration, possibly in waves, is believed to have occurred between 500 A.D. and 1000 A.D. Contemporary populations, suggested as sharing a close relationship to the Romani are the Dom people of Central Asia and the Banjaras of India.

the Gypsy Route (click to enlarge) :

The emigration from India likely took place in context of the raids by Mahmood Ghazni. As these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families. While the South Asian origin of the Romani people has long been established, the exact South Asian group from whom the Romanies have descended has been a matter of debate. The recent discovery of the Jat mutation that causes a type of glaucoma in Romani populations suggests that the Romani people are the descendants of the Jat people found in Northern India.

Pundela, a Rajasthani song of longing for one’s beloved, has been a virtual anthem for Roma music, all over the world. The lyrics roughly translated into English, go like this :

I think of you, Pundela my love,
I told you not to go to abroad,
But you wanted to go to earn some money,
You did not understand that happiness lay here,
With your mother, father, sisters, brothers,
and me who loves you.

We wanted to stop you going, because we needed you,
But you did not listen to us,
Now you have returned, but you are dead,
How can I live without you ?
I miss you, Pundela my love.

Musafir (Rajasthan) :  (Download)

Dil Mastana (Rajasthan) :  (Download)

Ando Drom (Hungary) :  (Download)

Mitsoura (Hungary) :  (Download)

Thierry ‘Titi’ Robin (France) & Gulabi Sapera (Rajasthan) :  (Download)

The World Romani Union has adopted a Romani flag which is recognized by all the Roma, the world over. It comprises of blue and green traditional colors with the red Ashok Chakra in the center (adopted from the Indian flag, but with 16 spokes). Blue is for the sky and the heavens. Green is the land, organic and growing. The Ashok Chakra in the center symbolizes movement and progress.


Rajasthan : Songs of the Soil

If the majestic forts and palaces are the body of Rajasthan, then the folk music is the soul of the land of the princes. The folk music gives the people of Rajasthan a means of forgetting the tough living conditions in the Desert and even adds a charm to this land. The Rajasthani style of music has made significant contribution in enriching the Indian music as a whole. One finds music of different flavors being sung here, developed according to the customs of the villages. Here we find folklores, hymns in praise of the Lord, tales of chivalry of the Rajput kings, and songs in praise of the Rain God etc.

Ghoonghat :  (Download)

Pachrang Fagniyo :  (Download)

Gauri Mhari :  (Download)

Paglyna Ri Paylari :  (Download)

Saro Nagar Bheej Gayo :  (Download)

Ghadvade Mera Shyam :  (Download)

.. more Songs from Rajasthan »

Comments are welcome.

P.S : As the number of music lovers visiting this blog has increased substantially in recent times, some music files in my previous posts may not play or download, because the allocated bandwidth has been depleted. Please bear with me and wait for a week or so, for the files to be reactivated. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.


Rajasthan : Tunes of the Dunes 2

The striking feature of Rajasthan‘s music and dance is that there is great variety. In fact, nothing much has changed since the time of their inception, probably a thousand years back. The music and dance are rooted in tradition. Although music and dance are an integral part of the daily life of Rajasthan, it is more pronounced during festivals. Songs of ancient poets like Kabir, Malookdas and Meera have become an integral part of the Rajasthani folklore. Apart from festivals, music and dance are also performed during special occasions like marriage, and childbirth.

Moriya :  (Download)

Lehariya :  (Download)

Deewana :  (Download)

Jeera :  (Download)

Sapera :  (Download)

Mehndi :  (Download)

Morubai :  (Download)

The music of Rajasthan is very vibrant and the manner in which Rajasthani music has evolved by absorbing the unique features of its adjoining states like Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab has meant that Rajasthani music is bold and evocative. It has already carved a niche for itself in not only India but has also been very popular overseas, courtesy the ‘Festival of India‘ shows that are conducted in western countries.

.. more Tunes of the Dunes »

Comments are welcome.


Rajasthan : Tunes of the Dunes

The most unique offering of Rajasthan is the majestic sand dunes in the Thar desert. Set against the blue sky, the wind shaped dunes gives a magical view. The picturesque dunes in the desert are the accumulation of windblown sand marks and one of nature’s most interesting and beautiful phenomena. The sand dunes keep changing colors and shapes every minute.

The shimmering sands and contoured desolation of the Thar Desert have cradled for centuries, the old folk tradition of the people of Rajasthan. The brightness of the daily life, the legends of its heroism and romance are all captured in the vibrant and evocative music of this desert land. Folk music of Rajasthan, which is rich, evocative, heroic, plaintive and joyful, comes from a tradition that is old and undisturbed.

Kesariyo Hazari :  (Download)

Moriya Aachho Bolyo :  (Download)

Gorbandh :  (Download)

In Rajasthan the folk instruments have developed according to regional settings and environment. Some folk instruments are hundreds of years old in style and are comparable to the classical music instruments in quality of music. Every instrument is still made and played according to same tradition and passion.

String instruments like Sarangi, Rawanhatha, Kamaycha and Bhapang add haunting melody to the music. Percussion instrument like Dholak, Nagara, Chang and Dhap add the rhythmic beat to joyous music. A variety of wind instruments complete the multitude of folk instruments which include, Algoja, Satara, Murla, Nad, Poongi and Shehnai. And then there are instruments like Kartaal or Morchang that are unique additions to the great repository of folk instruments as they are unlike any instruments found anywhere in the world.

Panihari :  (Download)

Ghoomar :  (Download)

Rupido :  (Download)

Rumal :  (Download)

The vast array of Rajasthani folk instruments are made ingeniously from a variety of materials. Shells of dried gourds of all shapes and sizes are used for making string instruments, stems or bamboo segments for flutes and baked clay pots for drums. Conch shells are blown to produce full, resonant sounds, sticks create rasping rhythms and ghungroos (brass bells) jingle on waists and ankles.

.. more Tunes of the Dunes coming soon.

Comments are welcome.


Street Music of India

During our growing years, we Indians are exposed to a lot of rural folk as well as urban street music. It is noticed that the amorphous nature of music has given rise to an unique amalgam of folk music and popular cinema sounds, being performed by musicians on stages and arenas, depicting the cultural experience of urban life and the streets. One can easily relate street music with the multi-dimensions of street culture.

There is an evident cross fertilisation between the two musical forms, with both taking from, and responding to the other. The Indian film music industry has a strong influence on popular Indian culture and while it has shaped public preferences, it has also borrowed from classical music forms. One common belief about street musicians is of them being too lazy to get a ‘real‘ job, harassing people on the streets with ‘inferior‘ or ‘crude‘ acts to solicit money to support a degenerate lifestyle. This perception is not confined to this part of the world only.

Bhajan from Benares :  (Download)

Tribal Song from Rajasthan :  (Download)

Nautanki Song from Kanpur :  (Download)

Street music is perceived as a ‘lesser‘ performing art, an illegitimate musical form. However, it continues to endure this viewpoint, surviving elitist ideas of ‘high‘ art. Moreover, street music is being increasingly absorbed into mainstream musical forms but without recognition. Lack of recognition of this art form, deprive the artists of social and economic benefits that are rightfully theirs.

Jogi Song from Gujarat :  (Download)

Bhajan from Orissa :  (Download)

Baul Song from Bengal :  (Download)

Beggar’s Song in a Street :  (Download)

The homespun, creative and intelligent construction of musical instruments made by the artists themselves, mirror the many dimensions of the artist. Streets and their culture lie at the heart of public life in contemporary India, especially in cities where urban housing is crowded and uncomfortable. Its streets act as thoroughfares, bazaars, theatres and most of all, a setting whose culture is constantly changing and evolving with time.

Comments are welcome.


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