Himachali Folk Romanticism: Beyond Undervalued

Let us look at Himachali folk traditions in relation with this love season- genres of music which are the underdogs of the music industry, but are the quintessence of idyllic melodies, and more than the aspects of ‘physical’ love. 

The Folk songs of Himachal Pradesh are reflective of its rich cultural heritage and its glorious past. They tell us of a very rich culture ongoing in the lap of the mid-Himalayas in various periods of our history, and as far as the concept of man goes, the folk music of the Himachali folk has been greatly concerned with the society to which it has remained committed. Its conception, with all its mundanity, is a concept which promises man a respectable position against all adversities. 

The folk songs of Himachal Pradesh violate established orthodox institutions and retaliate while striving for freedom and uninhibited love.

Gujjars, Gaddis and Pangwals of Chamba present some of the finest folk out of their romantic sensibility. Their songs are melodious and expressions extremely original. They have to carry their houses on their shoulders from bank-to-bank and prairie-to-grassland where anyone can hear their echoes. Destiny compels them to leave their soil, but the oil holds them back. This great paradox of time and spirit turns their expression into a rhapsody of an agonized soul.

The song ‘Chitta tera Chola…’, represents a dialogue between a shepherd and his wife, further on focussing upon the aspect of Religious love, as the word ‘shambhua’ representing the shepherd version of Lord Shiva; delineating the aspects of dichotomy and spiritual love.

The most notable songs of Kunjari Malhar are addressed to kunj, a bird found in the hills around this time. “Jaa meri Kunjariyo, barsat aave mere Rama, udi ke mila, kaiyon udi ke mila, mere preetam, ho Rama…” the singer tells the bird, pleading with it to carry her message to her beloved, promising gifts if the bird does so.

Apart from these, many other song-types are also sung in different parts of the Himachali area. The most important among them being Kunjri, Malhar, Chaita, Jhuri, Nati etc. The songs depict plain anguish and basic curiosities of the people. The concept of Vipralambha-Nayika (A woman whose husband is away which we come across in Chaita, Kunjri and Malhar is parallel to the concept which we find in Bhojpuri Rajasthani, Gujarati or any other folk music. 

The musical folk tradition of Himachal Pradesh revolves not only around the aspects of romanticism in a physical manner, but it also transcends the ideas regarding Love with its supreme metaphysical self, and explores the dual aspects of the unconditional force of love with the one above us all.

Feature image credits: travellingcamera.com

Nirmanyu Chouhan

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