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Dhadis - Sikh and Sufi


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Dhadis have a special place in Sikhi - Dhadis take their name from the little drum or dhad that they play.

Guru Hargobind Sahib encouraged and fostered Dhadis - two famous dhadis of the time being Bhai Natha and Bhai Abdullah - who sang in Guru Sahib's Durbar. Dhadis were used to promote 'josh' and 'bir rass' (martial spirit) in the Guru's soldiers.

Many of the Dhadi vaars have been passed down through the generations - however whereas once dhadis only sang verses from Gurbani - their repertoire has broadened to include folk tales , romances and songs - and sometimes modern events such as the Wars with China & Pakistan and the events of 1984 and the 90s.

There are 2 types of Dhadi - the Sikh Dhadi - who sing heroic martial ballads at Gurdwaras - and Sufi Dhadis - who sing at 'mazzars' of saints and at melas.

Dhadis are part and parcel of Gurmat Sangeet tradition - Guru Nanak called himself a Dhadi of God.The many folk forms which sit alongside the classical raags in Guru Granth Sahib show the importance placed by the Guru Sahiban on folk and dhadi style - the style of the common man.

Dhadis are still very much a part of Punjabi Culture - though in these DJ obssessed days they are in less demand at private functions - at my parents' wedding in the early 1960s - they had 3 days of entertainment - the highlight of which was the Dhadis - a favourite story in my family is that the kids were told not to stand too close to the Dhadis - as they opened their mouths so wide when they sang - that they might swallow a child whole !.

This is a tinted brush drawing , probably by Keher Singh -c.1875. It shows 2 wandering jogis - the inscription in gurmukhi reads 'Allahditta Raula chhutta sarangi wala , Ghulam Ali vada ektare wala; dove bhara; Jogipur wale, Sinpur pas; Bawa Farid de chele, unnu manade' ( Alladitta, the Rawal, junior, carrying the sarangi; Ghulam Ali, the senior, with the ektara; both brothers ; residents of Jogipur, near Sinpur; disciples of Baba Farid; believers in him)


* taken from Piety and Splendour , Sikh Heritage in Art - B N Goswamy - National Mus. - 2000 - pg218

Sikh Dhadis - in front of the Akal Takht


The Late Mal Singh from village Pabri, Sarangi Master.


Des Raj Lachkane - Sufi Dhadi


A wonderful portrait of Sharief Idu - 'in full flow' - Sharief Idu is regarded as Punjab's premier Sufi Dhadi - he is a member of the Idu clan - which has produced generations of sufi dhadis. He is from Manimajra , a village near Chandigarh.


* Pictures from Folk Music and Musical Instruments of Punjab - Alka Pande - Mapin - 1999

Many of us who live outside Punjab - in Europe and the Americas - regularly visit Punjab and have Akhand Paths, functions, parties weddings etc - we should make an effort to hire and support these local Musicians and keep the fast disappearing traditons alive - I promise you it is a much better experience than spending lakhs of rupees on Jazzy B et al - they put on a mind blowing show - nothing can beat a Dhadi in full flow or the sound of the Sarangi or algozay played on real instruments not sampled or on a keyboard - amazing !

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