In this edition of Shruti, we keep up with the year and celebrate monsoon.
The damp ground beneath your feet, the air heavy with fragrance of the earth. More green around than usual, people happier than they usually are.
The rains. Monsoon. It seems like the Creator’s reward to humanity for not choosing to have the same season all year round. Just when the heat cannot be withstood any more, the clouds bring relief from the ocean. In India, the rains are not merely a meteorological phenomenon but a cultural event. Almost all traditions of the subcontinent look up to the monsoons as an auspicious time. Even as the monsoon is regarded as the best of all seasons, it inspires, arguably, the best of traditional Indian art, too. It is not surprising hence, that rain is one of the most commonly occurring themes in Indian folk art.
One part of India which definitely knows how to celebrate its rain is the eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar region.
Kajri, or kajris (plural) are songs with the rain as their central theme, especially in the Awadh and Banaras-Mirzapur regions of U.P. The protagonist of almost all kajris is Krishna.
In that part of India, the monsoon is also the time when the branches are adorned with swings. And as they say, from cradle to grave, they have a song for every occassion. For the swings in monsoon too, they have music. These songs are called jhoolas (literally swings). Here too, the main protagonist is Krishna.
Given below, are five of the most enjoyable jhulas and kajris out there on the web. Of course, the reader might be be knowing some even better ones by the same or different artists, but alas, everything cannot be shared via the web.
1. Ashwini Bhide: Jhamak Jhuki Aayi
By the time the clouds from the Bay of Bengal reach inland, above the plains of Uttar Pradesh, they’ve lost their ferocity and have instead acquired a gentle, pleasing stride. Just like the one this piece by Ashwini tai makes you imagine. The clouds have approached with the same breeze as there is in the motion of a swing and Krishna and Radha are out there, swinging away in joy.
2. Chhannulal Mishra: Dheere Se Jhulao
There is an abandon implicit in the act of playing on a swing. And with abandon, comes joy. Perhaps momentary, but joy nonetheless. You feel like singing, and the same abandon and joy come out in that.
Radha and Krishna are playing on the swing. With the same joy, the same abandon.
3. Bismillah Khan: Kajri dhun
Once we have said that the Kajri is performed in the Banaras-Mirzapur region, it was inevitable that this list would feature Khan saab, wasn’t it?
4. Girija Devi: Barsan Lagi Badariya
Any serious study of, or even a list of kajri cannot be taken seriously if it does not include Girija Devi. Given above in the link, is one of her most popular kajris– “barsan lagi badariya”.
The lyrics describe the scene of a shower, where in frolic, joyous style the clouds descend and gift rain to the earth. Down below, it is as cheerful a state, for the rains have come.
5. Urmila Srivastava: Hum Ke Sawan Mein
A kajri is most often in the form of a woman singing to and for her man, just like the one sung in the clip above. If you ever come across a kajri outside a concert, it is likely to be in this form. The tune, too, is likely to be the same. Let us know if this you don’t feel like tapping your feet to this one.
With apologies to those who are living in regions where the monsoon has struck rather harshly and where it has not yet arrived.
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