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Banra banri

Folk Music (Audio CD)

Price : U.S $ 18.95


The wedding ceremony has given rise to a multitude of festive songs in all regions of India which are sung to celebrate beauty, youth, romance and manifest tease and flirtations or commemorate certain specific rituals.  Banra- the groom and banri- the bride are the frequently used terms in the renditions which deal with varying themes such as a bride’s complaint, a sister-in-laws taunts, a wife’s request for a new dress, a trip that a couple decide to make crossing the dunes of the Thar etc. In the compositions presented here the tone is joyous, gains tempo towards the end and emotion is always of enjoyment and happiness. The album at hand is quintessentially folk in terms of its rhythms, simplistic lyrics and the colorful cultural thematic. 

a. Bana Re Mharo This song is conventionally sung by the groom's sisterto express immense love, affection and pride she feels for her dear brother who is off to get a wife for himself. The groom is addressed by the adjectives kesariya (literally- a bright hue of the color saffron and by way of metaphor denoting youth, beauty and prosperity in the Rajasthani context) and hazari (affluent and capable). In a teasing tone she says that:‘Don’t strike the toran and hassle your mother-in-law a little’. Toran is a decoration put up onauspicious occasions and is hung from the lintel of the entrance door and it is a custom in a Rajasthani wedding that the groom strikes the toran with a sword and thus expresses his will to enter the compound and marry the daughter of the house. At times he might put forth a demand before he does so and the bride’s family is all too willing to fulfill it lest he refuse the alliance. As the song progresses,the sister goes on to call himthe star of his mother’s eyes and wishes the best for ‘kesariya kanwar’ (son-in law). 

b. Balam Ji Mharo After the sweltering heat of the harsh desert summers, monsoon is a welcome respite and brings with it feelings of festivity. The magic of the overcast sky, cool winds and refreshing rain drops has long been associated with romance and this song expresses the plight of the wife who sorely misses her husband at the advent of the rainy season, as he is far away from her, attending to his job. The song starts at a beautiful couplet saying that the winters went past and so did the summer season and now monsoon has arrived. Earth is very lucky to have a nurturer like God Indra (the hindu god of rains); she wears a blue blouse today and a drape of clouds and cool winds. The wife says that ‘rainfall has begun and so is the downpour from my eyes’ as she laments that it is a third day of savan  (monsoon) and the sister-in-law’s brother (my husband: traditionally the husband is never referred to by his name) is not home. Teej or the third of the monsoon month is an important festival in Rajasthan and women dressed in traditional finery enjoy themselves sitting on swings in the gardens. Gifts are exchanged, sweets distributed and each one is wished a long, happy married life. This Darbari composition from Barmer has a distinct poetry rendition towards its end whose conversational tone is outside the characteristic folk lilt of the song and poignantly expresses the extreme sadness of the wife who says that she is all dressed up in beautiful clothes and glittering ornaments and her husband is away on work.  

c. Aamli Aamli is a simple and charming song sung by the wife that portrays the aspects of everyday married life by talking about the dispute between the wedded couple. The marwari folk song celebrates the flavor that disputes add to the marital life.

d. Neru This romantic Marwari folk song is sung by a young girl who is smitten by an elusive stranger. Coming from the Bhat cultural group the composition has emotions of love and hope and optimism regarding the lover's return.

e. Ambawadi Manganiar artists sing this distinctive song after the rituals of the wedding are done with, during the much romanticized first night of married life. This song is typical to the occasions when people of the region of Barmer celebrate their wedding festivities. It has a mildly classical flavor and the castanets (khartal) are played in here with magical precision and beauty.

f. Bani Tharo Dundhaliyo This Marwari folk song speaks of the sadness of separation and how eagerly is a message awaited from ones love when he or she is far away. It talks of traversing the dunes of the desert on a cart or even a motorized vehicle. Exploring the romantic theme one line says that: ‘I told you to come alone my love, but you brought an entire entourage along!’ Another one scolds in saying that: ‘I requested you to come on time but you are late’.

g. Lehariyo: The Bhat community women sing this song which is one of the most commonly sung compositions across Rajasthan. Lehriya is a traditional tie and dye technique where the cloth acquires diagonal lines or waves (lehar) in bright hues of oranges, reds, blues and pinks punctuated by white. It is auspicious attire, commonly worn to celebrate the onset of the much welcome monsoon in the desert state. Through the song, a woman urges her man to buy her a lehriya ensemble that costs Rs.900/-.

h. Kesariya Bana: Rendering a native composition from the regions of Jodhpur, the sister of the groom sings in praise of the bride and bridegroom during wedding festivities. It is similar to the track ‘Bano mahro kesariyo’ but as is typical of folk renditions is an improvisation upon the theme to sing for a child instead of a young man. Rajasthan traditionally has had an unfortunate practice of child marriages. The little boy dressed as a groom appears very cute to the women of the family who shower all their affection upon him. He looks like a million bucks to them and as fresh and handsome as a flower. They address him as the nurturer of the bani- the bride and wish him a long life. The song conveys best wishes to the bride as well in saying that may her mehendi (henna) always be red and bright, indirectly implying that may her groom have a very long life as only married women dye their hands and widowhood in the patriarchal society is considered nothing less than a curse.

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