Monsoon Melodies A hallmark of Hindustani classical music is the intricate relationship between the ragas and the elements of nature. The moods of the monsoon have found subtle, evocative and sophisticated manifestations in diverse musical compositions. There are innumerable poignant, soul-stirring pieces based on ragas that conjure up vivid imagery of the rainy season.
Indeed there in no other season is as romantic as the Indian monsoon. After the scorching heat and the dust of the summer months, the arrival of the first monsoon showers, is more than welcome. The smell of the damp earth wafts in the air, and the surroundings turn a rich, lush green. Thundery squalls and torrential downpours, accompanied by streaks of lightening evoke a series of emotionsâexcitement, pangs of separation, longing, anticipation, anxiety for the young (and old too!) hearts in love. The rains also spell relief and satisfaction for the tillers of the soil and others whose livelihood is connected with the earthâ¦
Since a considerable length of time is to be per force spent indoors during this season, traditional Indian musicians and music lovers, down the centuries, have created and evolved a breathtaking array of melodies to harmonize with the moods of this season. Several monsoon lyrics are addressed to the dark clouds, asking them, to convey messages to the lovelorn nayika (beloved /heroine), soothe tormented hearts and dispel loneliness; yet others beseech the clouds to change course and drench the place where the beloved dwellsâ¦
Kajari, a seasonal melody, is one of the most popular folk music forms in India. It is often sung by classical and semi-classical vocalists. Even though Kajari is sung across a vast region, Mirzapur in eastern Uttar Pradesh is believed to be the real home of the Kajari.
Have you heard of a popular legend associated with Kajari? It is said that in Mirzapur, there was a woman named 'Kajali' whose husband was away to a distant land. That year when the monsoon arrived, unable to bear the pangs of separation, she prostrated herself at the feet of the mother goddess and cried her heart out. These outpourings of the heart subsequently took the form of Kajari songs. Even otherwise, scholars believe that the word Kajari is possibly a derivative of Kajal (Kohl/black pigment or eyeliner in Hindi).
There are two distinct forms of Kajari singing prevalent in Uttar Pradesh. The first is that which is sung during a stage performance, and the other sung while dancing in a semi-circle, during monsoon evenings, and is colloquially known as Dhunmuniya Kajari. Two of the leading exponents of Kajari are Shobha Gurtu and Girija Devi.
The quintessence of monsoon music is the Raaga Malhar which captures a range of moods and emotions, from the solemnity of the grey skies to the playfulness of the raindrops, from joyful mirth to melancholy. According to scholars, the word âMalharâ signifies "that which washes away the dirt".
The members of the Malhar family are Shudh Malhar, Desh Malhar, Megh Malhar,Miyan ki Malhar,Gaud Malhar and Ramdasi Malhar. The chief representative ragas of the monsoons are those from the Malhar family.Consider these examples:
Raga Miya ki Malhar:âKhayal Vilambit Ektaal "Kareem Naam" / Khayal Drut Ektaal "At Ghumar Aayi Badariya"
Raga Sur Malhar:âKhayal Vilambit Ektaal "Garjat Aaye" / Khayal Drut Teentaal "Badarwa Barsan Lage"
On the lighter side, the most popular hindi film song in this genre is the modern classic, âBole re papeeharaâ, from the film âGuddiâ (1971)
So swing into a sentimental and musical mood this monsoonâ¦.let your hair down, and have the lilting melodioes regale you, to the rhythm of pelting rainâ¦
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