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Glimpses Of Kutchi Music

Folk Music (Audio CD)

Price : U.S $ 25.95


Located on the western most tip of country, in the state of Gujarat, Kutch is a district of India protruding into the Arabian sea. A large area of this district is a shallow wetland called the Rann of Kutch and is dry for a part of the year and wet for the other months. In the hot summers this marshland has a snow white color owing to the salt in the waters which is left behind as the harsh sun parches the land of every last bit of moisture. It is the mystery of this pristine whiteness that has long attracted people from far and wide. Though existence is a struggle here, yet due to its strategic geographical location Kutch has historically hosted people from diverse regions. On one hand people from mainland India came to Kutch and on the other there have been migrations from Sindh, Pakistan, Persia, Africa, Central Asia and Europe among others. Mainly cattle herders came with their Kabhila to settle in this region as the grasslands proved to be great pastures for their livestock. With them came the culture, music and craft which led to an amalgamation of diverse traditions in the region some of which survive in a form closer to their origin, even today.

This album, in attempting to capture the diversity of Kutch brings forth paradigms of devotional singing, Sufi poetry in the rare genres of Bheth and Waai, the prayer music of Maulud that does not employ any instruments and the joyous Sufi Kafi strung to the Kutchi Ghada-Ghamela.

1. Jaisal peer bol bhalaiyun, bhola …(6:14)

The Bhajan tells the story of Jaisal Toral.When Jaisal took Samaadhi (highest state of consciousness when the mind is in absolute tune with reality), Toral prays through this Bhajan for Jaisal's return. She says –“O Jaisal, please return and fulfill your commitment. Without you I am incomplete. We have yet to complete our journey of love.” This is a Vaghad Bhajan sung in the eastern regions of Kutch. Vela Dhana Bheel has tribal origins and his rustic vocals to the strains of the Santaar make for a quintessential regional devotional music experience.

2. Pachim dhara na Pir padhariya..(5:03)

The devotee says,“Lord Ramdev has come on a horse from the west, with his family anddisciples. He has come to introduce the path of spirituality to us. He has come to give us ataste from the cup of love and will enlighten us about 'alakh' (one which cannot be seen: the knowledge of eternal truth is often addressed as alakh in Indian philosophy).”

3. Paap taahro prakash jadeja…(4:14)

Of the immortal love stories among Hindus, the most famous is that of Sati Toral andJaisal- a famous dacoit. Jaisal kidnaps Sati Toral and while travelling by boat, theyencounter a storm in the sea. Jaisal pleads with Sati Toral to save his life. It is then, that Toral says- “O Jadeja (community of Rajputs to which Jaisal belonged) these are your evil deeds which are manifesting through this storm. Make a confession and commit to take the right path, and I will not let your boat (metaphorically implying his life) sink into the sea.” The bhajan is strung to the strains of the Rawanhatta and no other instrument is played. Rawanhattha is a string instrument made out of an 18 inches long bamboo stick with the outer casing of a coconut mounted with leather at one end. The bow is made out of the hair of horse tail. Although it has only three strings, all notes can be played on it. The rhythm is given by the Ghunghroos (small brass bells) attachedto the bow of the instrument.

4. Aaj meetha ta madu vya moalo mate...(6:03)

The Marwaada Meghwals are a Hindu community living in the Rann and speak Kutchi.Meghwals are Harijans who trace their origin to Rajasthan. The Kafi sung by Meghwalshas a strong influence of Bhajans and they traditionally treat Kafis on the same spirituallevel as their Bhajans. This Kafi expresses the emotions of longing for a loved one when he or she is away. “Today my meetha madu (dear one) has been separated from me. If my fate favors me, we shall meet again”. Kafi is Sufi poetry written by saints of the several Sufi orders and expresses philosophical and spiritual thoughts in a secular language and folk ethic. 

5. Vitchidi vitchidi malya ayuin…(2:39)

Artist Dhana Bharmal sings an Arfana Kafi (sufi poetry that does not have a story or metaphor but is a simple philosophical statement) which implies: “Thank you O Lord! I have united today with the friend who was vitchidi (separated for a long time). I will rejoice and enjoy the moment of meeting which has come after a long wait. My friend will shower his love on me and I will love him twice as much as he loves me. Thank you O Lord.” Bharmal plays the Ghada Ghamela as he sings and the string of Ghunghroos on his wrist add yet another hue to the wonderful rendition.

6. Bas karo e yaar ulema bas karo e yaar…(6:29)

It is not uncommon for Sufi poetry to decry empty religious rituals and theological pursuits that never permeate enough to transform ones soul and therefore remain a worldly task that does not amount to anything of depth and meaning. Bulleh shah, the famous Punjabi Sufi saint says,“Stop Oh Ulema (priest). Stop this preaching of superficial spirituality. The Lord will manifest not just from reading of the holy books but from true love for him. Love the Lord and He will be yours. This is my only teaching to you. Stop Oh Ulema.”

7. Umer marvi...(9:35)

Bheths are short poetry verses (2-4 lines) written by Sufi saints. Bheths are sungindependently or interspersed in other forms like Kaafi and Waai.Thus a Kaafi on sayLaila - Majnu would start with a series of Bheths (quite often written by different poets)on the same story. Also, in between the stanzas of the Kafi, Bheths are frequently sung. The styleis similar to the system of singing Dohas before and in the middle of Bhajans. Bhethswhen sung independently are a delight, musically and philosophically andare normallysung on a very high note. Among the Maldharis (cattle herders) of Kutch, traditionallymusic was sung at a high note and with a soft voice and this has continued till date. The accompanying instruments areSurando, Jodia Pava and Ghado. In this particular composition a folk tale is sung of where the protagonist Marvi says, “The memories of my land and peoplehaunt me. Please bring me the soil from my homeland.”

8. Alha ji aash kare, charan...(5:43)

Waai is a Sufi singing style created by the famous Sindhi Sufi saint Shah Abdul LatifBhitai. Waai literally means a call: a call to the Supreme Being.The chief objective of this singing is to unite the human soul with the divine. Waai is a highly evolved musicform with 36 different Raagas. It is initiated with a Bheth (a couplet of Sufi poetry) and upon that the main body of it comes to be sung both of which needn’t necessarily be written by the same poet or have the same theme.  The accompanying instrument is called Dhambhuro which although similar to a Tambura is much bigger and has 3-5 strings only. In the composition here the story of Sasai-Punno is sung of. Punno is kidnapped by his brothers immediately after their marriage before their first night. Sasai says,“O before I could even enjoy the union with my love, he was taken away from me. Whydid you kidnap my beloved?” 

9. Thayaa sokh sundhal saadiyun saher me …(4:08)

The Birthday of Prophet Mohammad is called Id el Maulud. Maulud is a music form sung in Kutch by a group of men sitting in acircle and without the use of any instruments. Mauluds are sung at night during festivals,weddings and social occasions to commemorate the birth, wedding and death of the Prophet. Maulud in Arabic alsomeans prayer. The voices of the individualsare spaced with breaks and chorus in such a way as to compensate for the lack of anyrhythmic or other instruments. ThisMaulud is sung to commemorate the prophet's wedding. “Rejoice as today the Prophet has tied the Sehra (groom's veil). Greet him and rejoice.Today he will ride his horse and do everything that a groom should. Rejoice.”

10. Mathe ta ruati munji Velaatan bai…(3:02)

This is a Kutchi folk song where the singer expresses the emotions of a married girl who is remembering her parent’s house and hoping for her brother to come to fetch her. The poet says,“Velatana bai climbs to the roof of her house to see if she can spot her brother coming to fetch her. She sees lightening in the direction of her father's house and begins to lament. Rains have come and sowing has been done in the fields, yet her brother has not come to fetch her. Time is just passing by...”

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