(Info) Folk Culture Forms of Bundelkhand

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Bundelkhand

Folk Culture

Folk Culture Forms of Bundelkhand

Several local religious cults exist in Bundelkhand independent of mainstream Hindu religious tradition (see Cults and Local Deities).

Many folk arts have evolved around regional festivals, such as 'Navami' drawings and designs made on the occasion of Kajri Navami in the monsoons.

The drawings are made with a solution of pounded rice on floor cleaned with cattle dung, in a dark room of the house in which women place cups made of leaves containing mud from a particular field. Seedlines of wheat or barley are grown in the cups and worshipped for 15 days. Only then are sowing operations commenced.

Over the centuries, a rich and diverse tradition of song and dance emerged across the region.

Specific forms are related to seasons or life events:

  • Hori or Phag is sung in the spring and is appropriately romantic and sensual

  • Kajri is sung in the monsoons

  • Sohar is sung on the occasion of the birth of a child

  • Rai dance is performed by women dancers as well as men during Dashera

  • Diwari dances are performed during Diwali by acrobatic male groups holding long poles and dressed in very colourful and unusual attire.

Some forms are specific to certain occupational caste groups, and sung during work, such as when drawing water from a well, or when grinding flour by hand.   

Many forms of folk song and dance in Bundelkhand appear to have evolved as a response to harsh social and economic circumstances, and most folk artistes are from scheduled caste groups.

Among the well known forms are:

  • Achri, a folk song form performed in honour of mother goddesses especially during Navratri

  • Alha songs celebrating the heroic exploits of mythologised historical figures Alha and Udal, who fought on the side of the Chandelas in the war against Prithiviraj Chauhan

  • Lamtera songs sung in honour of Ganesh and Shakti

  • Pahunai song and dance performed to welcome guests

  • Got (pronounced 'goat'), a song form with a strange rhythm sung through the night to seek good health for all cattle in the village

  • Kacchiyahi, song and dance performed by women and men of the backward Kacchi caste

  • Kahri songs sung to welcome the rains

  • Khayal, a competitive form of singing performed by two groups of singers

  • Tambura Bhajans, which are songs usually sung to Kabir's lyrics, celebrating a nirguni (formless) godhead, and 

  • Kolhai song and dance peculiar to the Kol tribals of the Patha region.

Accompanying instruments include percussion instruments like the dholak, nagadiya and pakhawaj; string instruments like the one-string tambura; wind instruments like the flute and shennai; and several rare instruments like the algoja, a double flute.

With the exception of Alha and Phag, the forms seemed to have come down the ages unchanged.

The Alha repertoire of lyrics has been continuously enriched by different authors at different times.

Phag was enriched in the early twentieth century by a folk poet Isuri (born 1881, in Mauranipur, Jhansi) who is credited to have composed over a thousand love songs.

Some attempts have been made to compose and popularise new folk songs with messages on issues such as literacy, assertion of rights and empowerment of women.

Courtesy : bundelkhandinfo.org