LOST IN LOVE WITH THE CADENCE OF SARANGI
Ashiq ashiq sab jag banda,
Everybody calls himself a lover…
Sir tedi pagdi dhar ke
Just by wearing a fancy turban…
Ashiq ohna de dur thikaane
The true Lovers have their destinations far away..
Jithe poncheya banda mar ke
One goes through great adversities to reach there..
Ashiq ashiq sab jag kainda
Everybody calls himself a lover..
On the land where love legends like Heer Ranjha are the epitome of love, people who call themselves lovers, without having to go through the ferocious storms of love, are brought back to reality by an enchanting folk music group in one of their songs. Nazer Pander Ji leads this Dhad-Sarangi group of four young and talented boys, who study music together in college. They all hail from a small village called ‘Rakhrha’, which is near Gurmehrpur, in Nabha, Punjab.
In Punjabi folk music, there are two types of Dhad- one is Sikh Dhad, which is usually played in the Gurudwara about the history of Sikhism, and the second one is Folk/ Sufi Dhad, which is played with folk songs. The group plays the folk Dhad, and sing folk tales of Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, and more. The folk songs are embedded in the beautiful Sringar Rass and Viraag Rass.
Nazer Ji is a middle-aged folk musician and has great knowledge of Punjabi folk music. He sings and plays the traditional folk instruments- Dadd and Sarangi. His father, Gurmehal Pander Ji, is also a folk musician, and Nazer Ji inherited all his knowledge about folk music from his father and grandfather. Gurmehal Ji has even composed his own song, ‘Chandrahaas’, depicting the folk culture in his community. Nazer Ji started learning at the age of 13 and formed his own group 15 years ago. Financially, he is dependent on income from music shows, and farming during the off-season. As a child, he used to sit with his father at night, after dinner, for 2 hours, to learn the folk songs, write them down and then memorize them by heart. Nazer Ji feels that a digital recording is very important in the domain of folk music so that the pure form of folk songs reaches the people without any distortion.
Salim made a couple of friends in college whose interests aligned with him as folk musicians. So they came together and formed a group under Salim’s father, Nazer Ji. The members think that one has to understand that folk music, especially that of Punjab, comprises of lengthy songs, and numerous ‘Kali’, narrating the events related to the song, and that one needs to be patient to completely comprehend the essence of that music. It is a tough art because one has to sing, play and dance as well. The same opinion was highlighted in their interview with DD Punjab. The group boasts of a bundle of knowledge about their folk culture, and members of a young generation who are willing to pursue folk music with all their heart and dedication. They are also working on a composition which involves a melodic fusion of Dhad, sarangi and bhugdu with some western instruments, so as to present their music in a contemporary format. They aptly say that folk music is about the community itself. The songs teach people how to live their life happily.
Nazer Ji’s son, Salim Khan is a music honours student from Sangrur, Punjab. He is a folk musician and is carrying forward the traditional heritage of the family. Right from childhood, he was inspired to play folk music instruments, and his passion for folk music was kindled because of his grandfather, Gurmehal Pander. Salim’s uncle and some other relatives are also into folk music, and keep on holding small get-togethers at home to enjoy and celebrate by singing folk songs. His younger brother is also a folk singer.
Adil Khan developed a taste for folk music from a very young age. He is merely 19 years old and has been singing as well as playing folk instruments, for 5 years now. He plays the sarangi and enjoys folk music to the fullest. He says that Sarangi fills his life with melody and bliss, and besides being his passion, playing the instrument also acts as an escape in difficult times. He loves to experiment with his music and to come up with folk songs embedded in a different tune or style. He has always been inspired by his elders to carry forward the heritage of folk music and staying connected to the roots. Understanding the significance of folk music is a remarkable thing for a boy his age.
Out of all Punjabi folk instruments, Nagendar finds Dhad as his favourite one. He learnt to play Dhad from his Guruji, Kulvinder Singh Ji. His family is also into folk music, his father and sister, both are folk singers. His sister used to sing with Sikh Dhadi groups. Nagendar had met Salim in college, and they had performed together in a lot of college-level competitions, like youth festivals, zonal festivals, and realized that they could do something great in the realm of folk music.
This young group, who refer to themselves as Veer Sahib Punjab, feel that folk music depicts one’s own culture and should not be forgotten. Efforts should be made to revive and protect the dying folk music. They practice together with all their heart and bring laurels to their institution wherever and whenever they perform.