Culture

The Swarajya Holi Playlist 

Radha and Krishna playing (Lucknow, Avadh, 19th century)
Snapshot
  • What is Holi without its music? Presenting the Swarajya Holi playlist:

Holi is here. With the exception of Janamashtami, no other festival has inspired as many musical pieces of the Indian classical and folk tradition (of the Hindi belt) as Holi. In fact musical pieces on Holi are called that- Holi. For their musical content, Holis are a delight to listen to at any time of of the year but become that much more special on the day of the festival itself.

Here, we bring you some of the finest Holis from the Hindustani classical and folk tradition:

1. ‘Rang Darungi’ by Pt. Chhannulal Mishra

Straight from the heart of Banaras, this briskly paced Holi is about Radha’s plans for Krishna on the day of colours. The lyrics are delightful and so is Pt. Chhannulal Mishra’s rendition of the piece.

2. ‘Aisi Hori Na Khelo’ by Girija Devi

Where Holis are being discussed, Raga Pilu was to make an appearance sooner or later. In this one, where again the hero of the piece is Krishna, the words are as suggestive as the music itself.

3. ‘Kaisi Hori Machayi’ by Pta. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande

This piece of utter beauty, in the sublime raga Kafi, is in fact a complete submission of bhakti dressed in the lyrics of a Holi. More than a celebration of Holi, it is a celebration of Krishna. And with Ashwini tai, it turns into a piece of music progressing right at the peak of evocativeness.

4. ‘Digambar Khele Masaane Mein Holi’ by Pt. Chhannulal Mishra

If you thought that out of the pantheon, there are Holis only on Krishna, then listen to this Holi by Panditji describing Shiva celebrating the festival. Aesthetically, it is completely opposite to the scenes described in Krishna’s Holis and yet it is a celebration of its own kind.

This one is amongst Chhannulal ji’s most popular pieces. There have been concerts where he has been asked to sing it even when Holi was more than a few months away.

Extra: ‘More Kanha Jo Aaye Palat Ke’ from Sardari Begum

Yet another Pilu on the list, this piece from Shyam Benegal’s Sardari Begum, composed by Vanraj Bhatia and sung by Asha Bhosle is a favourite among music aficionados.

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