Barahmasi is an Awadhi folk form that describes the seasons and natural phenomena of the twelve months of the year. Set against the backdrop of these changing seasons is a protagonist, usually a woman, who remembers her husband or lover from whom she is separated. It is a popular folk genre in the northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, where Shrikrishna is from. Based in a village named Katgara in the Hardoi district, located about 80 km from Lucknow, he manages his group, which consists of ten artists who both sing and dance.
Alongside Barahmasi, they also perform Bhajans and other acts of entertainment in the villages nearby. The group also includes a comedian or a stooge who entertains the audience with his anecdotes and antics in between the musical performances. Other dancers are men who crossdress and perform as women, a trope that is common to most folk forms in this part of Uttar Pradesh. This is due to the conservative nature of society that forbids women from performing in public. The men are rather upfront about their profession and claim to have earned a lot of respect for their talent to play as women and even sustain their families by this.
Each Barahmasi song has 12 couplets, each of which is dedicated to one month of the year. The couplets describe both the season, the climate, the crops and the happenings of the season, and also the emotion of the protagonist as she waits for her beloved’s return. A more religious version of Barahmasi has Radha as the protagonist who awaits Krishna’s return from his uncle’s home in Kubri. Chikara is a string instrument similar to Sarangi that is used in Barahmasi. It is a difficult instrument to master and is now going out of fashion. Shrikrishna is one of the few remaining players of the instrument around his village.