Folk Songs

June 30, 2009 | Post By: Vinay Dobhal | Editor: Neha Dhyani

Folk Songs of Uttarakhand had its root in the lap of nature. It has seen various phases of growth and has undergone lots of transformation during the course of time. It speaks about various festivals, religious traditions, folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. Bajuband, Basanti, Chhopati, Chhura, Chounphula and Jhumeila, Jagars, Khuded, Mangal, Puja Folk Songs are some of the folk songs sung in Uttarakhand.

Some of these artists are Sh.Mohan Upreti, Sh.Gopal Babu Goswami, Sh.Narendra Singh Negi ji Gajendra Rana, Meena Rana, Sangeeta Dhoundiyal, Manglesh Dangwal, Anil Bisht, Virendra Rajput, Dinesh Uniyal, Pritam Bhartwan and others.


This is a folk song of love and sacrifice between the shepherds. It is a love dialogue between the man and woman or between a boy and girl which is sung in the form of a folk song


'Basanti' folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers, bloom and new life spring in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song is sung individually or in groups.


'Chhura' folk songs are sung among shepherds in the form of advice given by the old to youngsters, having learnt it out of their experience, particularly in grazing sheep and goats.


These are the folk songs popular in Rawain-Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal. 'Chhopati' are the love songs sung between the men and women in the form of questions and answers.

Chounphula and Jhumeila

'Chounphula' & Jhumeila' form part of seasonal dances which are performed from 'Basant Panchami' to 'Sankranti' or 'Baisakhi'. 'Jhumeila' is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women. 'Chounphula' is a spinning dance performed by all sections of the community, at night, in groups by men and women. 'Chounphula' folk songs are composed for the appreciation of nature during various occasions. Chounphula, Jhumeila and Daryola folk songs all derive their names from the concerned folk dances.


Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spiritual worship, in the form of a folk song or at times combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and are sung in honour of the various gods and goddesses.
There are more than 50 ballads on indigenous spirits, gods and goddesses, fairies and ghosts, the most famous Ganganath, Gorilla, and Bholanath. The chief priest, Gantava, fixes the time on whicl1 a jagar is to be formed. Around the burning fire, in a circle, are members of the village or family-suddently, like a magician the Das, or singer, slowly, and with measured drum beats, starts to invoke the spirit. Coupled with his singing, punctuated by the exotic drum-beats, and the shrill sound of the thali', the crescendo, builds up and drives the listeners into a trance. In a fit of ectasy they leap, shout, tremble and j'ump, sometimes tearing off their clothes. As they move around the fire, the Das starts to address them by the name of the spirit or spirits involved and asks the spirits, the questions that are sought by some families and the remedies. Usually the spirit demands a sacrifice of a goat or a bird. The spirit is sent back to its Himalayan abode and the spell breaks-the dance and the ceremony is ove.
While in a state of trance the dancers lick red-hot pokers, or shove their hands into the blazing fire without being harmed.
The instruments used are a big Drum (Dhol), a smaller Drum (Damua), Hurka and Thall.


These folk songs depict the suffering of a woman due to the separation from her husband. The woman curses the circumstances in which she is separated generally when the husband is away looking for a job. 'Laman' another folk song is sung on special occasions expressing the sacrifice that he is willing to do for his beloved. 'Pawada' also belongs to this category of folk songs where separation is felt when the husband has gone to the battlefield.


'Mangal' songs are sung during marriage ceremonies. These songs are basically 'Puja songs' sung alongwith the Purohits who keep enchanting 'Shlokas' in Sanskrit according to the Shastras during the marriage ceremony.

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