Beating Drums Down the Hills
When we first encountered the word Dholru we wanted to know more about it as it sounded like an instrument. After asking the locals we got to know that it is a festival which is celebrated in the month of Dholru where people from a particular community sing songs of this season going from one house to another in the entire village. For people of the region, they consider it very auspicious to listen to the songs sung but the Dholru community. While getting to know more about the song we met a couple who belonged from the same community. Their names were Uttam Chand and Ikko Devi. They both sang songs of the harvest during the month of Dholru. Uttam is into full-time music whereas his wife takes care of the house and follows her tradition also. Uttam performs Kangra folk music with his wife, Ikko Devi. The music that they play is indeed very different from the ones played by the others in that region. Uttam plays the instrument Dholki whereas Ikko Devi simply sings with her Manjra.
They were afraid to sing for us their special songs as we had gone to meet them in the month of September. So we had to take them to a place where no one comes and that place was in the middle of gushing of river Beas which was flowing all in her glory. We requested the hesitant artists to sit on the rock in between the river and thus with our wireless recording setup they started with their music. The couple is one of the only few lefts who perform the traditional Hindu new year folk song of the month of ‘Baisaakh’ or Dholru. They are an old couple who earn their living mostly by performing at marriages and festivals. The couple is said to perform a unique song which is sung when someone is facing difficulty in getting married; statues of Lord Krishna and Radha are married in a small ceremony and then floated away in a water body. The song is sung during that ceremony. They also sing songs about Rain, Marriages, local deities, new year, and other folk songs with their signature instrument Dholaki. Upon asking we got to know that all they get from their music is varying number of shows with a payment of Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 for each. Clearly the amount is not enough to run their family in today’s time but still, they prefer not to quit their traditional music and still follow it for their living.