fading Folklores

Ashok Sharma
The Duggar region which boasts of a rich and ancient history has a rich cultural heritage.The Dogras have excelled in every field- as warriors, musicians, philosphers, writers, singers etc.There exist a number of folklores which bear testimony to the fact that the folklores of Duggar form an important part of our rich cultural heritage and ethos.Besides expounding the culture, rites, rituals, beliefs of a region, they help a lot in bringing the people of all communities irrespective of their caste,creed etc. together and forging a strong social bond among them. These lores transmit culture to the posterity through tales, ballets,songs, chorus etc.and play a key role in familiarising the young generation as to how their ancestors lived and what they believed. But these folklores are now dying a slow death thanks to the apathy of the Government and the young generation towards them. The youth of today, being busy in playing video games, watching TV and using modern gadgets such as laptops, desktops etc. are alarmingly exhibiting their apathy and indifference to our folklores which give us a glimpse into our ancient culture and wisdom.
The people in rural areas used to organise a religious event called ‘gagail’,usually on the eve of Nagpanchami.On this occassion a religious procession would be organised in which a large no of people took part.They used to move from house to house with some of them dancing to the beats of the drum at each house and receive some money or grains as offering by each household.As and when a ‘Mandi’of deities such as Raja Mandlik, Kaliveer, Sidh Gouria,Baba Jitto etc in the form of stones called mohras came the drumbeaters called ‘gardis’ would sing karaks- a holy and emotional tale ballet often narrating a popular folk tale or the heroic and noble acts of Raja Mandlik, who was noted for his justice and mercy towards his subjects, Baba Jitto- a tiller who made the supreme sacrifice of his life in protest against injustice and Bua Kauri, his minor daughter who could not bear the tragedy and burnt herself on the funeral pyre of her father.Every year Jhiri Mela is organised on Purnima of Kartik/ Magar to commemorate this supreme sacrifice of Baba Jitto and his daughter and a large number of devotees from across the northern India throng the Mela site with enthusiasm and religious fervour.Gardis and Jogies sing Karaks narrating how Baba Jitto was meted out injusice by Mehta and how he sacrificed his life so that the interests and rights of other tillers could be protected.Various ‘mailes'(congregations) of the people of the same subcaste are also organised on this purnima.These mailes are organised at particular spots in honour of their respective deities called ‘kuldevtas’or ‘kuldevis’ and karaks are sung eulogising them and invoking their mercy and benevolence for prosperity and wellbeing of the family.These karaks are also sung in favour of Baba Maimal, Baba Sidh Gauria, Baba Amboo etc and other local deities with the accompaniment of the strange beats of drum. Persons called ‘Dowalas’ claiming to have divine and mysterious powers go into ecstasy and start dancing wildly as if under the spell of some mysterious power.Their whole bodies shake and they beat their bodies, especially, back with iron pieces called sanglan and act as communion between the deity and the devotees.They also answer the questions of the devotees telling them the cause of their misfortunes and remedies thereof. There is an ambience of awe, mystery and devotion keeping the devotees spellbound.This process would be repeated for about an hour after which the procession would move forward and repeat this process as and when another mandi came.In the evening the procession would return and there would be community langar and then a ‘yaatar’ would be organised in honour of deities,which would last throughout night. The people who offered donations would be appreciated by singing their ‘beils’ by the gardis.It is through these holy songs that the noble and heroic acts of these great men are perpetuated by the jogies to the posterity.
Another form of folklore was ‘baarain’sung by the jogies.Baarains would be sung by jogies while moving from one house to another or sometimes their services would be sought on special occasions such as birth of a child , marriages etc.The jogies singing baarans were in great demand and the renowned jogies such as internationally acclaimed singer Ghulam Mohd.used to be in great demand.These karaks called baarein would revolve about themes such as beauty of Duggar, hard life of the Dogras great deeds of kings and local deities and gods. and were appreciated by one and all.Bakh’ is another folklore which has now become almost extinct.It used to be sung in the form of a chorus by a group of about 10-12 singers who would cover their ears with their hands and sing loudly from a low pitch to the highest level with the pitch surging in a slow and steady manner without the use of any instrument.These folksongs had lyrics which describe the glory and power of warriors, deities etc and some of them had profound philosphical meaning.These were greatly appreciated especially by the elderly people though what they sang was not intelligible to many listeners.’Gasaitan’ is another event celebrated throughout the night.A large number of people assemble at the house which organises this event where an elderly man called gurai ji delivers the religious sermons in the form of ‘masades’.He dwells on and sings the glory and grace of characters in the legends such as Ramayana,Mahabharata,Raja Harishchandra, Puran Bhagat and other such stories which have a tremendous influence on the minds of people, especially children.The participants and devotees are served ‘bagni’,a drink made from the ground seeds of ‘kodra'(Paspalum species),a millet crop and sprouted wheat.The devotees offer donations in cash and kind, which are received by chanting such words as ‘Chandi daan,ann daan,kanchan daan,Sri Bhagwaan, teri saam, Parmeshwar ji’.’ But this event too is struggling for its identity and existence in the  wake of modernity.
Kud’is another folkdance which is very popular in Jammu division, especially in the Chenab valley and hilly regions of Panchari and Ramnagar.This ritual dance is performed by a group of ten to fifteen dancers who dance in a circular path to the beats of the drum.This dance is organized in honour of the local gods and deities generally at night on marriage and other festive and religious occassions and people of all ages participate in this spontaneous dance which is controlled by the rhythm of the music.’Heren’ is another dance organised on the Lohiri night.In this dance two, dancers bend together to become a deer and dance in a characteristic style.There is a clown called’Nard’ who is surrounded by four men dressed as girls called ‘sakhians'( friends).The procession moves from house to house waking up the people and receiving money and grains.The dancers return in the morning before dawn, distribute the earned money among themselves or pledge the collected money to a social or religious cause.These days, this dance is confined only to some special functions such as Republic Day, Independence Day etc.where the Heren, on being asked what it wants, requests the VIP to fulfil particular demand and doesnt get up unless it is accepted.People would also sing dogri folk songs called ‘geetrus’.Dressed in traditional Dogra attire, the artists would sing geetrus and dance with brisk steps mesmerizing the spectators.
The Gujjars and Bakerwaals sing ‘benthes’ which, apart from being musical and sonorous,often have a deep philosophical meaning.These benthes are sung by a group of 10-15 singers on religious occassions or whenever these hard working people get some free time.The Hindu women would also organise ‘jagarana’ on the eve of the departure of the groom to the bride’s home on eve of his marriage.The female relatives of the ‘groom’ s family would dress themselves as male members, close the door and sing songs with erotic themes giving vent to their pent up feelings and emotions such as yearning for husband/ lover for union, separation from a husband who was in the service of the king etc.This dance would go on till the morning and male members would be strictly prohibited from entering the room or eavesdropping/ overhearing these erotic songs.Thus , Jagaranas would add an element of variety, charm and novelty in their otherwise mundane and hard life.Generally the other women would make fun of the grooms mother and other relatives.Then the women would sing nuptial songs- ‘kaurians’ for the grooms and ‘suhaags’ for the brides.They would also sing ‘sithnis’ teasing songs for the baraatis and ask ‘shands’ to the groom and his friends.The tragedy is that these folklores are not being perpetuated to the posterity.They are fast vanishing into a state of oblivion.Our children who are expected to be the custodians and transmitters of these folklores which form an important part of our culture are not exposed to these folklores.Thus the need of the hour is to pay attention to these folklores by organising multireligious melas at panchayat, zonal, district and state level to revive the beauty and grandeur of these folklores and thus enable the young generation to get a glimpse of the Duggar life in the years gone by.


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