Peej village is located in Kullu Tehsil of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is situated 5km away from Kullu, which is both district & sub-district headquarter of Peej village. This beautiful village is at the top of the valley in Kullu, with a marvellous view of snow-peaked mountains overlooking the field space with a majestic temple in between. The group had selected this place because of their strong belief and sentiments attached to this temple in the hindsight where they have been performing since they were kids. Baldev and his group are a bunch of youngsters who are still in college but are die-hard passionate about their cultural music and dance.
Baldev belongs to a Rajput Thakur community of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. He recently completed his graduation and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He always felt the strong connection with folk music and dance because of his teacher Ram Singh who made sure that their Pahadi tradition is imbibed in him. Baldev believes to save their tradition from getting faded away, it is important for the youngsters in the valley to initiate and take up folk music as their passion and understand its value. The group strongly believes that music can spread messages which will reach the people in society in the best way.
Baldev likes to write new folk songs which are mostly stories which he has been listening to from his elders in his village. He likes to portray those stories in the form of songs and make people listen to them. Along with a group of instrumentalists who are experts at playing instruments like Dhol, Nagada, Karnal, Shehnai, etc., he makes beautiful and refreshing entertaining songs. He wishes to make a fusion of folk songs because he believes these days and in coming days people would like to listen to folk songs in a contemporary form.
The group has performed at various competitions like International Kullu Dussehra as well as Winter Carnival Manali and won various accolades and trophies for the same. They want to start their own institute to teach music and help the younger generation of artists. Baldev and his group wish to go on national and international tours to showcase their enriching cultural and folk performances. The group together showcases the traditional ‘Nati’ folk dance which is originally a cultural dance form of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. [Nati refers to the traditional folk dance of Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur, Chamba and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. The dance is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest folk dance. It is quite popular in the whole of Himachal Pradesh. Dance is also popular in Chandigarh where Himachali youth perform this on cultural programmes.]*
All the members in the group are involved with some of the other professional activities in order to make their families survive. Puran Chand isn’t just a musician but also a farmer and carpenter for over two decades and he aspires to perform and promote his culture through the means of music and dance. Pradeep who plays Karnal is still in his school completing his studies. Deen Dayal, the Shehnai player, earns a living through professions such as sewing and driving a taxi but carries his love for music forward. Chaman Lal plays dhol, also works as a farmer for his livelihood and is the only person in his family who has decided to pursue his passion for music.
We reached Peej in the just before the dusk and set up the documentation equipment for the group, with a smile on his face, Baldev hinted the group to make their dance formation and began with their song: