Travel in Rajasthan, India
A Rajasthani Kid is playing "Ek Tara"
Thar Desert Jaisalmer in Background, Rajasthan, India

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Art & Culture -- »Music & Dance

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Rajasthan the land of royalty is a glittering jewel set in the golden sands of a barren desert landscape. The light that reflects off the golden sands engulfs a land renowned for its vibrant colours, people in bright clothes and beautiful jewelry, living in cities dotted and dominated by towering forts and palaces that rise from the sands like a mirage.

The brightness of its daily life, the legends of its heroism and romance are all captured in the vibrant and evocative music of this desert land. There is a richness and diversity in Rajasthani music which comes from a tradition that is old and undisturbed, and from a culture that has imbibed the best from its neighboring states of Sindh, Gujarat, Malwa, Mewat, Haryana and Punjab. Music, which is rich, evocative, heroic, plaintive and joyful, governs all aspects of Rajasthani lives. The voices, both male and female, are strong and powerful. The numerous songs sung by the women reflect the various feminine moods and strong family ties that govern their lives. Peepli and Nihalde are imploring the beloved not to leave her or to return to her as soon as he can. There are songs about family, comparing every member to the numerous ornaments worn by women. The festivals of Gangaur and Teej, celebrating marital bliss and the brief but splendid monsoon of Rajasthan call for special songs without which no celebration is complete.Folk Music Rajasthan

Men and women of Rajasthan sing devotional as well as festive songs. Songs by the saint-poets like Kabir, Meera and Malookdas are part of the folk repertoire. They are sung all night during the raatijagas (all night soirees spent in singing devotional songs) which are held as thanksgiving to a particular deity. The resonant singing of the Rajasthani folk is accompanied by like the Baara and Algoza, that usually give a beat or a drone to offset the poetry.

Fairs and festivals bring an even greater riot of colour and music into the lives of these desert people. Holi, the festival of colours, brings forth the joyous, lively rhythms of the Change and Dhamal songs. Marriage, childbirth, the visit of the son-in-law, all call for song and music. Even children have their own special songs called the Saanjhi and the Ghudla. Favorites that are sung at all times are the Panihari, Eendoni, the famous Ghoomar, Morubai, Gorbandh, Shankariya, Kurjan, Digipuri-ka-Raja and the Rasiya songs of the Braj region.

The hard life of the desert dwellers made them seek means of making life more pleasant by developing their artistic talents. There are many traditional communities who are professional performers and their skills are handed down from generation to generation. The Bhats and Charans are bards, who could inspire the Rajput warriors with accounts of heroic deeds by whipping up patriotic fervor or even ridiculing the royal families with their satire. The wandering balladeers, like the Bhopas who sing about the Marwar folk hero-Pabuji, travel from village to village with their phad painting and rawanhathha entertaining people with their ballad. There are many singing communities in Rajasthan known as the Dholis. Also known by other names like Mirasis, Dhadhis, Langas, Manganiyars, Kallbelias, Jogis, Sargaras, Kamads, Nayaks or Thoits and the Bawaris. Today their music can be heard all over the state and is popular even on the National & International circuits. The best flavour of this rich artistic talent can be savored during various fairs & festivals of the state, specially during the desert Festival (Jan-Feb),the Pushkar Fair (Oct-Nov),the Marwar Festival (Sept-Oct) and the Camel Festival (Jan-Feb).

FOLK MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

THE STRINGED INSTRUMENT
Sarangi - A Strings InstrumentThe sarangi is the most important folk musical instrument and is found in various forms in Rajasthan.The sarangies are one of the plethora of musical instruments used in Rajasthan. The Jantar of the Bhopas of Dev Narainji is akin to the Saraswati or Rudra Veena. It has two gourds, four strings and fourteen frets.  The Ektaara is also a single string instrument, but it is mounted on the belly of a gourd attached to a body made of bamboo.  In Western Rajasthan, a simple instrument called the Morchang is very popular. The Ghoralio is common among the Bhils, Garasiyas and the Kallbelias. Both these instruments resemble the Jewish harp. 

THE AUTOPHONIC INSTRUMENTS
Ghanta made with metal workA single metal plate, the thali, forms another variety of musical instruments. This is struck in various ways producing different kinds of tones and rhythms. The Jhalar, also called the Ghanta and Thali or Tasli are commonly used.

In Jaisalmer district an interesting variant of the Jaltarang is used. It is called the Jaltaal and is a thali with water filled in it. The jhalar is usually played with bells, blowing of conchshells and beating of drums at aartis and on other religious occasions.

PERCUSSION
dhapli dholakThe single faced and shallow rimmed drums are the daf and the chang. The chang is the biggest, and with a parchment pasted on its rim, is a big favorite of the holi travelers. The player strikes the center with his left hand and the edge of the membrane with a stick attached to a finger of the right hand. A second player beats out a faster rhythm along the rim, which is called 'chippi lagana'. The smallest member in this group is the Khanjri, and its variant is the Dhapli.

RAJASTHANI FOLK DANCE

The people of Rajasthan live life to the hilt. After hard work in the harsh desert sun and rocky terrain whenever they take time off they let themselves go in gay abandon. There is dancing, singing, drama, devotional music and puppet shows and other communities festivities which transforms the hardworking Rajasthani into a fun-loving and carefree individual. Each region has its own folk entertainment, the dance styles differ as do the songs. Interestingly enough, even the musical instruments are different. Of considerable significance are the devotional songs and the communities who render these songs. Professional performers like the Bhaats, Dholis, Mirasis, Nats, Bhopas, and Bhands are omnipresent across the state. They are patronised by the villagers who actively participate in the shows put up by these travelling entertainers. Some of the better known forms of the entertainment are :

Ghoomer Dance: This is basically a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions. Derived from the word ghoomna, piroutte, this is a very simple dance where the ladies move gently, gracefully in circles.

Gair Ghoomer: This is one of the many dance forms of the Bheel- tribals. Performed during Holi festival, this is among a few performances where men and women dance together.

Gair: Another Holi dance but performed only by men. This becomes Dandia Gair in Jodhpur and Geendad in Shekhawati.

Chari Dance: This is popular in the Kishangarh region and involves dancing with a chari, or pot, on ones head. A lighted lamp is then placed on the pot.

Kachi Ghodi: This is a dance performed on dummy horses. Men in elaborate costumes ride the equally well decorated dummy horses. Holding naked swords, these dancers move rhythmically to the beating of drums and fifes. A singer narrates the exploits of the Bavaria Bandits of the Shekhawati.

Fire Dance: The Jasnathis of Bikaner and Churu are renowned for their Tantric powers and this dance is in keeping with their lifestyles. A large ground is prepared with live wood and charcoal where the Jasnathi men and boys jump on to and reaches a crescendo, the dancers seem to be in a trance like state.

The town is located in the heart of a region known as Shekhawati. The peculiar feature of this region are its Havelis ( Mansions ) owned by wealthy merchants settled all over the world. These Havelis are striking examples of Rajasthani architecture and fine frescoes. This short tour aims to cover entire region along with fun and entertainment.

Itinerary of Rajasthan Music & Dance

DAY 01 : MANDAWA :  Songs , music and dance.
We start from Jaipur / Delhi and reach town of Mandawa by noon and check in a heritage hotel. After lunch we explore the town for its beautiful frescoes and Havelis. In the evening we are entertained by a live performance of folk musicians in the hotel.
 

DAY 02 : MANDAWA :  Shekhawati Drive.
After break fast we drive to the towns of Dundlod, Laxamangarh  and Fatehpur and see some of the most beautiful frescoes of Havelis which date back to 19th century and early 20th century. These Havelis were once built by wealthy merchants who hailed from this region and proved their mettle all over the world with popular nickname given as “ MARWARI”. After lunch we  drive back to Delhi / Jaipur.

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