Jump to content

Folk Heritage of Punjab


Recommended Posts

Need cheering up ?

- here are some great videos highlighting the rich folk heritage of Punjab - the videos are of varying quality

There's the excellent Malvai Giddha ( or babean da giddha) - with classic funny bolian - great stuff !

There's Jagmohan Kaur - singing Bulleh Shah and there's Gurdas Mann singing 'Challa' - There's also the 'Great Indian dancers' of Southall - while they may not be as 'Lithe' and Athletic as Punjabi college Bhangra teams - they are really just a bunch of Dads and Uncles , with some that have stomachs obviously maintained by pints of Mild ! - but they do a good job - with nice bolian and matching moves. I love the opening sequence name checking the 5 rivers and the " Sir te Kaffan ban de " bit .

Hope they bring you as much joy to you, as they do to me !

Malwai Giddha -


Gurdas Mann - Challa (From 1987)


Jagmohan Kaur - Bulleh Shah (From 1984)


The Great Indian Dancers - (from 1987)


If that has whetted your appetite check out this site - it has some great Traditional Artistes and tracks of not just Punjab but all India and some great videos and tracks to download.




Link to comment
Share on other sites


Another great posting and a really entertaining one.

Freed, I was struck by the use of modern western instruments in that Gurdas Mann clip; an accordian, guitar, bongos and even a mandolin !

It's a typically Punjabi reaction to something modern or seemingly better to abandon the traditional ways. I wonder if you can comment on the folk-instruments of old and. I was wondering if in the folk tradition the instruments have always just been devices to attract the listeners, therfore they've always needed to be eye-catching and modern?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You've hit the nail on head Amandeep !

Alka Pande in her research has called this "The pure and struggling" versus "the bastardised and flourishing"

Mirasis are the custodians of punjabi folk - but due to economic reasons and having to compete with modern 'video' artists they are forced to use modern instruments - to attract the punters (anyone who has been to a wedding in the pind will know the utter joy on the faces of kids and adults at the sight of a 'Saturday Night Fever' style flashing disco dance floor!). In her research Pande has tried to collect examples of instruments - she says that many examples no longer exist or if they do no one knows how to play them - she also tells of the sad story of instrument makers who nowadays just make items for the own personal pleasure - no one buys them and their children have moved into other areas like furniture making.

Another point is cheap copies - or display items - she gives the example of 'Algozey' - not only is it hard to play, it is also hard to make as the reed is difficult to get right - the market is flooded with copies to be sold at melas - they are not meant to be played.

This brings in the case of modern Punjabi artists who repeat the old hackneyed mantra 'we are preserving punjabi Virsa' - but in reality use traditional instruments or copies of them as 'props' - the music is all sampled even the dhol and algozey - making sounds a human could never reproduce.

In the Gurdas Mann video all the instruments are modern and relatively easy to play - why spend years training under an ustad to play sarangi , tabla etc when you can get a fairly good sound out of Bongos and the mandolin - It's the old Harmonium vs Tanti Saaj argument again !

But all is not lost - I think to use the Indian phrase - NRIs can make a difference. Traditional artists are easily available in Punjab - they just need patrons - when we go to Punjab we should hire them - Many of us do go frequently to Punjab and hire musicians be they Raagis and Dhadhis for religious functions or Singers for weddings - be discriminating and hire quality artists not just the 'loudest' or those with the 'Funky' hairstyles (Naming no names !!)

Alka Pande's book is very good - it also includes a CD of traditional instruments - including Sarangi,Toombi ,Nagaara and all the Malvai gidda 'orchestra'

'From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights - Folk Music and the Musical Instruments of Punjab' - Alka Pande - Grantha - 1999

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...