The living Heritage of Pabuji ka Phad
Imagine purity personified – it would bear the names of these exceptional artists. Meet Raju Devi and her group, belonging to the revered Bhopa-Bhopi of the Nayak community, residing in the vicinity of Pushkar. For generations, they have passionately nurtured and passed down this cherished folk tradition within their family.
When they perform, something magical happens. Their voices weave a tapestry of beauty that transcends mere singing. Our encounter with these humble artists left an indelible mark, revealing their simplicity and unwavering commitment to what’s close to their hearts – a tradition they’ve lived and breathed.
Their artistry revolves around “Pabuji ka Phad,” an ancient storytelling tradition that has stood the test of time. In the heart of Rajasthan, Pabuji Maharaj is a revered deity, and his Phad narrates the epic of his life.
Now, picture this “Phad” as a scrolled cloth painting, meticulously portraying the events of Pabuji’s life. While the vibrant performances are executed by the Bhopas and Bhopis community, the masterful creation of the “Phad” falls into the hands of the Joshi community, predominantly located in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan.
This epic, a deeply religious poem venerating Pabuji, spans a remarkable 4,000 lines. To recite it in its entirety demands unwavering dedication, spread across five consecutive nights, with each session stretching for a full 8 hours, commencing at dusk and carrying on until the first light of dawn.
During our encounter, the group graced us with two soul-stirring songs – “Pabuji ka Bhywala” and “Gogaram Ji Bhyawla.” These songs vividly depict pivotal moments from the weddings of Pabuji and Gogaram Ji, transporting us back to those historic events.
Traditionally, the Phad was performed in a captivating format: the Bhopa, with the accompaniment of a Ravanhatta, would sing, dance, and play the instrument, while the Bhopi held a diya (ghee lantern) and sang in unison. Our artists shared that “Pabuji ka Phad” holds a cherished place in Rajasthan’s culture, with people often inviting these priestly singers to recount the valorous tales of the king, seeking good omens and blessings.
– Hrisha Rashmi (Volunteer)