It’s the festival of colors ‘Holi’ today here in India. One of my favorite festivals, I have always associated it with the deeper meanings of love and surrender in Sufism .This comes from the word ‘rang’ or color which was spoken of by Amir Khusro for his pir Nizamudin Auliya in the hauntingly beautiful and ecstatic composition  ” Aaj Rang Hai” ( listen to the renditions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Abida Parveen). Or one immediately thinks of the immortal love that Radha has for Lord Krishna and the beauty of Holi in Brajbhoomi, celebrating this love…the music echoing in the notes of the lovely Raag Kafi ( listen to  Shobha Gurtu’s “Rangi sari gulabi chunariya ho mohe maarey nazariya sanwariya re’ or ‘Aaj Biraj mein Holi” )

 Everyone has their favorite ‘Holi’ Bollywood song like ‘Rang Barse’ ( from the movie ‘Silsila’) or the pretty recent ‘Balam Pichkari” ( from the movie “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” ). Mine  still remains  the one by Begum Akhtar ‘ Hori: Kaisee yeh dhoom machai“-that’s the influence of my Dad on me.

‘Holi’ celebrations started for me last night, partying to some great food,drinks and  music to end late this afternoon, drenched in the colors of friendship and love.A long weekend follows because of the Easter holidays and I am looking forward to catching up on my reading of the Booker long list 2016 and listening to music .

I recently discovered and have  fallen in love with the music of the Chakwal group , thanks to Coke Studio, Pakistan.

Chakwal is  the headquarter and main city of Chakwal district of Punjab, Pakistan and  located 90 km south-east of the federal capital. It is named after Chaudhry Chakku, who was the chief of Minhas tribe, and  belonged to Jammu. ( )

The history of Chakwali music, locally called dhol geet, is as old as Chakwal itself. All songs in dhol geet are created by local poets and their singers do not use mics or modern musical instruments except the dhol. A team of singers usually consists of about 10 men divided into two groups along with a dholi (drum beater). The first group leads the song while the other group repeats it; this way, members of the main group are ready to sing the next couplet.Initially, there was only one genre of dhol geethimri — which is the real identity of Chakwal. The other kind of dhol geet which penetrated Chakwal’s culture a few decades ago is called chabola, a technique used by folk singers in Punjab.  Unlike chabola, himri is classical music which requires talented singers and a highly skilled dholi. These songs are sung at a high pitch by melodious voices and are appreciated by avid listeners. The late Baba Daraz of Khairpur village, Ghulam Ali and Nawab Ali of Chak Khushi village, Ustad Aziz Lohar of Dalailpur village and Raisham Batt of Pinwal village are the most famous singers of himri songs.“Kandyaari”, “Jhulara”, “Shamaan” and “Akhian da Diwana” are old himri songs which are still popular. Among these, “kandyaari” and “Jhulara” continue to rule the hearts of Chakwal as the couplets of both these songs are simple, yet rich in meaning. The similes and metaphors found in these songs are inspired by the rural life of Chakwal. The creator of these two songs remains a mystery, as even noted old singers fail to trace the creator(s). ( Source: The Express Tribune, July 24th , 2012)

 Here are two songs which I keep playing repeatedly!  The meaning of the lyrics can be understood by hitting the CC button on the youtube link.


 Both the songs strike a deep chord in my heart. I smile as I tell you this, because although I belong to the eastern part of India ( the state of Odisha), people always think I belong to northern India and mistake me for a Punjabi. Possibly because of the way I look, but I think its primarily  due to my uh uh  flamboyant attitude ! ( and the great love for paneeer, aloo paratha & lassi , too ) An ex had told me that Odiyas, especially women, are supposedly pretty reticent and mild. Oh the hapless guy 😀

 Over & out, folks 🙂


2 thoughts on “MELODIES OF THE HEART

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