Rajasthan is the largest state of India in terms of landmass and it also happens to be the most colorful state in terms of vibrant folk culture. Rajasthan is the abode of many tribes, who have made great contributions towards enriching the cultural life of Rajasthan. As a result, a wide variety of music, dances, devotional songs, puppet shows and dramas have evolved in different parts of the state. Music has become an integral part of village culture for unwinding after long days. Scenes of locals gathering in the village ground to sing and dance are common in country sides of Rajasthani.
The people of Rajasthan live a difficult life of hard work in the inhospitable desert climate. But hardships of life couldn’t prevent the people of Rajasthan from becoming carefree and fun loving people. Hence, every day is a veneration of life in Rajasthan. The themes and lyrics of Rajasthani folk songs are often the narration of the simple village lifestyle and its difficulties.
Rajasthan has its large communities of musicians that include Langas, Sapera, Bhopa, Jogi, Manganiar, Qawwals, Tangas, Patars, Kanchari, Nats and so on and so forth. Among the musical communities, Langas exclusively belong to the Muslim audience. Manganiars, on the other hand, are more liberal in their choices of audience.
The most interesting fact of Rajasthani folk music is its variety. Different types of folk music are performed in different parts of the state. One such form of traditional folk songs is Panihari songs.
Often women are the main performers of Panihari songs. The theme of these songs centers around their daily life and chores-concentrating on the act of fetching water from the well, which is an important part of desert life.
Devotional songs have also made a very crucial contribution in shaping the cultural personality of Rajasthan. Bhajans composed by Meera Bai, the great devotee of Lord Kirsha, are particularly popular among the village communities of Rajasthan. The singers are patronized by the villagers who take active parts in the shows put up by traveling musician communities.
The Rajasthani folk music has further been enriched by the folklores of great Rajput warriors and the many wars fought on the soil. Musicians still tell the tales of the great Rajput kings and keep the people rooted to their glorious past.
Following are some of the most popular forms of Rajasthani folk music:
Ghoomar Dance: The Ghoomar is a community dance mostly performed by women during festivals and auspicious moments. The name of the dance is derived from ghoomna or pirouette in which women move gracefully in circles with the rhythm.
Gorbund: It is a famous form of traditional folk music which describes the process of preparing decorative saddle for camels. Often the songs are performed on Kaharwa rhythm which enhances the beauty of the simple lyric manifold.
Maand: Maand is regarded as Rajasthan’s most sophisticated style of folk songs. The songs mainly focus on narrating the great achievements of the Rajput rulers. The songs are based on heroes and great warriors and on the epic wars fought in the soil of Rajasthan.
Pabuji Ki Phach: Pabuji Ki Phach is a song that describes the great achievements of Pabuji, a 14th century folk hero. He is a revered figure among the Bhopa community of Rajasthan.
The folk music of Rajasthan is as colorful as the lifestyle of the people of the state. Even during the time of jet-aged technologies the simple tunes of Rajasthani songs still hold the charm that mesmerizes the listeners. Through these songs only one can learn about the true life of Rajasthani people.