Social Status of a Haryanvi Rural Woman: A Reflective Study through Folk Songs
Folklore has many cultural aspects for instance stories, folk songs, folk dance, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, customs, and so forth within a particular culture and subcultures. In Haryanvi culture most historic is folk songs, which shows women’s socio- cultural status in the society. Articulation in folk songs reflect the women`s perception, social cognition, fantasy and provide a cathartic space.
Folk music has come to be associated with a wide range of styles, influences and social practices. It has become closely linked with an oral tradition in which songs are passed down between generations and/or places through performance, rather than formal transcription, Yarwood and Charlton (2009). There is close connections between particular rural places and musical styles (Gold, 1998; Johnston, 2006; Matless, 2005; Stradling, 1998). A focus on Folk music has the potential to contribute to rural studies in three ways, Yarwood & Charlton (2009). They further recollected that folk music can play an important role in the social construction of identity and the promotion of particular places (Hudson, 2006; Kong, 1995; Revill, 2000; Smith, 2000). The association of songs with specific places means that composition is often linked with national or regional identity through its celebration of local events, characters and landscapes (Storey, 2001). Second, music from specific rural localities has the potential to represent the lives, grievances and celebrations of those living in rural areas. Finally, listening (Morton, 2005), performing (Revill, 2005) or dancing to (Revill, 2004) music is a corporeal performance that has the potential to engage people with places in emotional ways, ( Yarwood & Charlton, 2009).
Furthermore, Punia & Punia (2004) confirmed that folksongs not only help in understanding the socio – cultural and religious life of the community but also human psychology and the adjustment of an individual to his/her culturally constituted world. People shape an essential clue to the appraisal of their social, emotional and cultural life and are an index to their ethical and aesthetic norms and sense of values. Variety of folk songs is available in Haryanvi culture like ragini, allah, haryanvi filmi songs and folk songs (Lokgeet). We are focusing exclusively on folk songs (Lok Geet sing by women in groups) which are very close to rural women and reflect almost all aspects of their lives. There is variation in dialect, tune, and rhythm of the folk songs in sub culture with almost same content of the songs in Haryanvi culture. Folk songs are sung without using any musical instrument but in a rhythmic manner in Haryana. All these folk songs` lyrics are almost naïve in their nature consisting straightforwardness and based on traditional Haryanvi folk tunes. They reflect variety of folk emotions, thoughts, anecdotes and reflection of whole social system. Main occasions of singing songs are like occasion of boy child birth , wedding, festival , Bhat notana (when Bride and Bridegroom’s mother go in their brothers` family for inviting them), welcoming and vidai geet (see off ceremony) and Satsang (singing religious songs). Malik (1981) has classified Haryanvi folk- songs in various categories such as marriage, birth, phanghat (fetching water from a well), joking relations, love theme, separation, costumes, farming, cultural awakening, devotion, historical events, fast, festival and so on.
We observed it as joyful and unconditional happy setting which promotes women`s well being. In village society, it is assumed that women bring mainly two things from their parents house (Mayaka) Suits (New dresses) and new folk songs (lokgeet). As a girl is married out of her village, carries regional songs with her and mingles them in new culture (sasural). In this way l okgeet - contents spread across the community without any conscious efforts. However, wording and rhythm of folk songs ineffectively got slightly changed style according to sub- cultures.
Various categories of folk songs
Haryanvi is a dialect which is really difficult to do exact translation in English but Hindi speaking people can understand it easily. However present article would try to display gist of the folk songs but may deviate from exact meaning. Reviewing all folksongs, four categories have been emerged; gender discrimination, anecdotes in folk songs, Arya - samaj`s folk songs and spiritual/religious message driven folk songs.
Haryanvi society is a male dominated society. Therefore, women are dependent on men for getting support and protection all over the life. As a daughter, she is dependent and protected by her father and brothers, as a wife by her husband and as a mother by her sons. It is evident in folk songs and a huge category is devoted to them. Gender discrimination which is supported by statistical data almost everywhere shows that girls’ number is far less than boys primarily due to advance technology resulting in female feticide. Folk songs are sung everywhere on occasion of boys’ birth but on girls` birth nowhere in the society. The situation specific son - birth folk songs are known as jaccha songs. After birth on every step she faces gender discrimination.
Sample of some folk songs reflecting gender discrimination and other aspects of women's life:
Discrimination in brother- Sister Facilities: Sister is saying to her brother in this folk song “we are from same mother’s womb and our luck is totally different. You just see differences in our facilities. You need fresh meal to eat, milk for drinking, soap for bathing, and costly clothes. You also go to school and scold all family members. On the other hand, I have to take stale food to eat, butter- milk for drinking and tattered clothes. I do lot of hard work, no time for taking bath and scolded by all family members. In last stanza, brother assures her sister to provide same facilities [bir ham]. Supporting the fact in most recent study, rural adolescent girls (76%) perceived gender discrimination, Singh, Singh & Suman (2009).
Bride’s father looser & Bridegroom’s father winner : A marriage song where, Bride is asking who has been winner and who has been looser. Lado! (Beloved) your grandfather, father, and uncles (Mama, Chacha, Fuffa), have been looser as having a daughter and bridegroom’s grandfather, father and uncles (Mama, Chacha, Fuffa) have been winner as they had son [kon sa ta] One another adage in Haryanvi culture ‘Beti ka baap sadha heena’ (Daughter’s father always inferior) confirm the prejudiced view for daughter’s father in the rural society.
Wife asking her husband to remarry as she perceives herself barren (an anecdote): This discrimination is not only imposed by men but well expected by women as well. This is imbibed in their lives and they cannot even imagine their life without son, brother, husband and other dominated male figures in different stages of their life. In the present song, wife is saying to remarry her husband as she is not able to give birth to a son. She says to her husband “bin pani paphiya taras dhakhe ho bin bete mata tarsa” She would have to lose all amenities, he warns. But she is ready to lose each and every thing in exchange of a son. He remarriages and new one refuses to do auspicious rituals as she is a barren woman. With happy ending, luckily due to God's grace first wife got son and she also refused to see new born son as she (new one) suspects to give poison. Three main things may be drawn from the folksong in the social system conclusively; son mania, peer rivalry and refraining from auspicious rituals as barren or even woman without son [To be added].
Upset mother telling to her son efforts of his enriched rearing when he ignores her in his later life: In the present song, Mother tells her son that she has managed everything for him while rearing him up despite of all the odds she faced and she doesn’t expect that he should mistreat and speak ill about her. [nyu ta duniya]
Harsh conditions in In- laws family and women’s family support especially brother protect and support her in this tough time: Even in Hindu Law there is a provision to give women a fair deal in the sharing of ancestral property but there are hardly such women`s cases which claim for it in Haryana. Chowdhry (1997) confirmed the fact by reiterating that “The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 granted to females inheritance rights equal to those of male members in the family for the first time in independent India . Yet the failure of law in this respect is a well-acknowledged fact. My fieldwork in Haryana during 1985-90 and more recently in 1992-95, enabled me to analyze and understand this problem within the rural structure”. Only, in a few cases where lack of harmony and unhealthy interpersonal relationship within the families and daughters claim their ancestral property. Otherwise brother protects and supports whole life his sister and visit with gifts during festival seasons and also usher her to her natal home (Mayka). It is also believed that parents feel insecure and helpless for their daughter, if she is not happy with in-laws. However, brothers` strong position does matter, again promotes son preference. Following local adages support this point, for example, “Jiski beti sukhi uska janm sukhi (if someone’s daughter happy means his happy life); “orake chori rat na uthak kha sa, yohe dukh sa” (Girl does not take extra diet, but you (parents) are helpless when she is unhappy/ tortured at in- laws family, this is painful); ek pali chahiye (girls need a care taker as a brother) and so forth. A Haryanvi girl almost worships her brother. She is proud of him and shows an extravagant hospitality when he visits on festive occasions to her. Traditionally, a sister is sent from her in -laws to her parents` home with her brother only. Frequent visits keep in constant mutual touch between two families and subsequently in two villages and thus inter-familial and inter-villages bonding.
On the other hand, almost all wedding songs call to bride lado (beloved) and where she projects her desires, emotions and feelings mainly for searching handsome husband; asking for proper arrangement of Barat ( bridegroom’s family guests in her marriage); related to her special bath, and facial (Matana) and so forth.
Some folk songs supporting above comments:
Brothers of Daughter –in- law and their position do matter to Mother- in –law:
Daughter–in-law offering all pleasing and requiring things to her mother-in-law but she does not please,
then she says that she is sister of nine brothers and one of them is soldier and immediately she got pleased with her
(It shows somewhere fear of her brothers) [sas man raji boliye]. Another song in which she loses her temper when her mother- in- law refuses to send her to her Mayaka with her brother [shan dhikhi].
Woman is complaining her brother about her mother-in-law and how he is supporting his sister: She is saying that she cried and her brother cried along with her. She complained that her mother- in- law fights daily and he asked the reason of fighting to her mother-in-law. Mother-in-law says that she does not take milk without cream (malaye) and then he supported her sister saying that whole day she does hard work and deserves milk with cream [To be added]. Famous saying about the state is “deso me des Haryana jit dudh dahi ka khana” means the place where main edibles are milk and milk products. Women use to get discriminated meal (substandard to male family members) which is provided by women (generally served by elder woman in the family).
In the present song brother asking to his mother for prepare homemade sweets as he has to go to sister’s home in festival season (Teez).Visiting sister’s in-laws, he asks sister’s mother-in-law (Mousi) regarding whereabouts of his sister and going to see and not finding her over there, complaining that she is not traceable and at the end coming to know she has killed [mithi ta karde ri ma]. A plethora of anecdotes on women`s pathetic and helpless life have been portrayed in the folksongs.
Woman is complaining her brother about her husband and how he is supporting his sister: Woman sends massage to her brother to meet urgently.
Immediately he reached and was intimated about the grievances about her husband who gambles and lost all property and now wants to gamble on her.
He is asking about him as well as sward, she let him know. Subsequently, her husband felt very sorry and promised not to repeat it (gambling) again [likh parvana gera]
Woman is complaining her brother about her elder brother- in-law and how he is supporting his sister : Brother asks her sister why she is getting so weak and she tells him her elder brother–in-law mistreated to her. She says, it is excruciating for her and
this is gradually weakening her. Hearing it, he got enraged and killed him and tells her sister to just see how animals are eating his flesh. [To be added]
On the other hand parents prepare her for marriage by saying that lado! You have to learn hard life and serve it in your sasural (in - laws family): Song says that lado! (Beloved) you have to go mother-in- law’s house where you have to eat and sleep at the end and have to clean each and every thing in the house [To be added]. In another folksong parents explain her all social norms and warn her to follow and not to let them down. [Beti gal..]
One another emotional aspect of brother- sister relationship is that in all children` s marriage first ceremony starts with welcoming her brothers (Bhat Bharana) as well as she herself as a ritual goes to invite her brothers (Bhat Neotana).
A sample of folk songs from overabundance of this category reflecting brother-sister emotional relationship:
When a woman goes to invite her brother (Bhat Neotana) for her son’s marriage he refuses to come as she has taken her share in the ancestral property and now he is not able to give required gifts in the marriage. She later asks to return all property to him and he happily agrees to come with all required gifts [ Bheli ra chawal ]
Soldier’s wife (Faugi) struggle in the society
Joining Army has been main respectable occupation in Haryanvi culture. Since most of the time she does not accompany him due to some unavoidable circumstances and has to struggle alone in the society. Their struggling lives reflection in the following folk songs:
Woman is asking that how could I celebrate my festivals when my husband is fighting on border. She is saying that her husband is fighting on border and not able to get leave. He gets tea and biscuits only, not possible to get milk cream (malai).She further says how she could celebrate Holi (color’s festival) when her husband is playing with bullets on the country’s border [To be added]; Waiting for him eagerly [Dharmpal], another aspect of her lonely life.
In another emotional scene a soldier husband asks to her wife to put in order his luggage as his vacations are over and he has to go back on his army duty. She refuses and not allows him to go and when he ignores it, she commits suicide. In later stanza, he confirms to his army friends that cause of fighting was that she wanted to stop him going back on his army duty [To be added]
Sometimes when husband dies then one another ritual where most probably husband` brother is deputed as husband after his death (ritual called lata udhana). A folk song where soldier- husband is killed in the war with China and elder brother has to be husband through the ritual (lata udhana) and now everyone remembering him with emotional tone within the boundations of their changed relationships [To be added] This is another redundant ritual in the society and sometimes make miserable situation of all affected people especially when deceased husband’s brother is not a suitable match or already married. In some settings, this may be an uncomfortable triangle if deputed person is already married and obstructs their well being.
Having nostalgic memories and emotions, this category is overwhelmed with Ragini (male’s folk songs) also. Late Ram Maher, a soldier, poet and singer from locality had documented all touching aspects of soldier and his family life.
Anecdotes in folk songs
There are some anecdotes in the folk songs in which a woman presents self experienced incidents. She tries to express her feelings and communicate massage to concerned persons like Aunts, husband or whomsoever concerned.
In a very old folk song, a woman reiterates how her husband left her mid night while sleeping and went for freedom fighting. This song appealed a lot to us when an old lady about 75 years shared with us how during freedom fighting almost 60 year back, parents were forcibly marrying their young sons for controlling them so that they should not to go for freedom fighting and stay home. But even though they were not staying at home and left family for participating to become freedom fighters. She reiterates in the song that her husband deceived her as he left house mid-night. In the morning when mother-in–law called and came to know about his going and she became very upset and scolded her badly [piya]
In another folk song, she recollects her thoughts about how she spoke to bridegroom when he had asked for dowry in their marriage. Her father was helpless then she took permission to speak to him (otherwise being parda system (veiling) it is not allowed to speak in rural society) She said that she did not like him and could go back without marriage and bridegroom felt sorry immediately resulting in marriage without dowry [mere pita na]
A song conveys her helpless condition when she got married with educated husband. Being uneducated she is not able to understand his English. In last stanza, message is delivered by her to all aunts “do not do educational unmatched marriages; either educate your daughter or do not marry her with educated boy” [To be added].
There are some songs in which she asks to maintain monogamous (only with his wife) relationship and reiterate logically when husband ask not to interfere [He kale ki chaya] & [rahi ke]
A category of some folksongs present a woman`s various perspectives; when she prefers to commit suicide instead of going back to parents house following a quarrel with
her brother- in -law [Daver]; clearing her concept on social taboo in which she does not supposed to do sringar (make up & wearing new cloths) in her husband`s absence [mat pahar ].
Ancient Anecdotes in folk songs:
There are some old tales (Kisse) famous in the culture such as Roop –Basant, Tara Chand, Pawan –Anjna, Pooran Mal, Satyawan- Sawatri and many more where whole story of their life displayed in a sequenced fashion in local drama (Sang), males` folk songs (Ragini) and females` folk songs (lok geet). In Roop-Basant`s tale when queen (Rani) fell ill she asked to king not to do remarriage being worried about her sons- Roop-Basant but king refused to keep his promise and he got remarried where second wife misbehavior with children described in the story [He jab rani]. In another tale Pooran Mal`s mossi (Aunt) offers illicit relations and he declined straight away then she blamed back to Puranmal the same and complained to the king. Consequently he was punished by the king [Purnmal]. From famous epic Ramayan, Sita`s expression during her sufferings [Ram tan kyu] and Anjana`s suffering from Pawan –Anjna`s tale in which she suffered almost whole life. Firstly, when she was rejected by her husband because of her friends who made fun of him maintaining that he is not compatible match for beautiful Anjana Secondly, Pawan came and met her one night after twelve years [kit ta aai] and return same night to his army duty without disclosing it to other family members. She was suspected of having illicit relations reason being her pregnancy and then forced to leave her in - laws house and like Sita, she had to deliver her son in jungle. It shows women suffering since ages.
Plethora of folk songs in this category acts as legacy of these tales as they travel across generations.
Message driven Arya - samaj`s folk song
Followers of Arya Samaj, a pro-social activist group originally propagated by Maharshi Dayanand during late nineteenth century, have been using songs in local languages for reducing social problems. Main focus is on general awareness, female education, and disintegration of joint family, against idol worship, alcoholism, and smoking. For instance, reproaching idol-worship folksongs and replacing it with strengthening family relationships is main agenda in folk songs. Most of the songs focused on where sister is saying to her brother to follow ideology of Arya Samaj adding emotional component.
Some renowned songs from the locality :
Sister is advising her brother to listen it carefully. “Go for Arya - samaj`s procession and listen carefully knowledgeable speeches” She asks. She further advises that serve to your parents, educate your younger brother, and marry your younger sister in Arya`s family[Sun le bir]. A similar song in which she is saying to her brother that worship mother, father, brother and sister in lieu of different idols` worship [bira le la ]. A folk song in which sister asks her brother to abstain from all bad habits (alcohol, playing cards, wandering in streets idly etc.) and share their bad consequences [Daru ka pivna]. This category of songs is quite respectable and well turned-out among women and even today, it is appreciated to sing these songs and considered remedy against social evils [Kuye pa neer].
Spiritual/ Religious messages in folk songs
One another category of folk songs is spiritual/ religious message driven folk songs called Bhajan more prevailing in older women and setting called Satsang. Basically, two categories: religious anecdotes like Rama, Krishna , Shiva and numerous other God – Goddesses perceived life events and some spiritual message driven folk songs (Bhajan).
Anecdotes in religious folk songs:
Two bhajans in which Parvati proposes for marriage [Shiv Sanker Bhole Nath man bya] and [Shiv ji bhola agya he] their marriage is described. Parvati requests Shiva to permit her to visit her parents’ home. Present folk song is beautiful representation of their conversation in today’s woman context [Bhole mat kariye]. Preparing Bhang for Shivji is her foremost duty and description can be found in variety of folksongs. In one more song, Parvati refuses to grind Bhang as she wants to know mystery of eternity [Rus gai gora sanker ta ]. Again she is saying “Nath! You are not innocent (Bhola) but it is your wife and complains that you know mystery of eternity and I am in cycle of birth and death ”[Nath tu ta bhola koni]. and another song shows devotee`s devotion [Mare sir pa].
There are different anecdotes such as bond with Narsi Bhagat, Radha, Meera, Mordavj, Shivji, where exhibits beautiful presentations of tales in layman`s language.
Narsi Bhagat `s daughter Bhat
In another Anecdote, Narsi Bhagat`s daughter Bhat is described. It is assumed that Narsi Bhagat was Krishna`s devotee. His daughter had to marry her daughter. Having no brother Harnandi approached her father. He had no wealth because being an adoring devotee he had already surrendered to Shree Krishna. On the other hand, being in-laws wealthy family, she is pressurized to get wealth from her parents` family. Both father and daughter were helpless and anxious in the situation. It is assumed that finally, Krishna helped his devotee and rained all desired gifts for the whole village instead of family only. In two ways, women are fond of this anecdote, one Bhat is touching occasion for them and secondly it represents Krishna- devotee relationship. Folk song in which [meri r gadi ka dhaka ]Narsi Bhagat ask for help and another one, where Krishna asks Rukmani to let him to go and help Narsi Bhagat indeed in need [ man ja lena de Rukman] and wife asking her husband to offer help [Aaj mahar jage] . In another scene, when Harnandi (Narsi Bhagat`s daughter) tries to commit suicide as not being able to get Bhat from her father when pressurized by her in laws and Krishna comes into sight as her brother for Bhat ceremony [Aaye tera hira janm].
Shree Krishna’s historic tales described as Draupadi Cheer-Haran [Ma jua ka ma har gai] ; Meera`s devotion [Kit gai thi he Meera] ;Childhood mischievous happenings [AA re tare roj] ; Cows`caretaker [A gau mata rov] ; Shivaji`s arrival to see child Krishna [ Hari om] Moredhawj as donor and scrutinized by Krishan [Aanad ka nahi] and so on . In the last Bhajan, Krishna and Arjun disguised as sadhu, came to
King Mordhawj and beg to sacrifice his son for their hungry lion with prior consent of his wife . Krishna wanted to let Arjun know that King Mordhawj as supreme donor on the earth. The tale describes as King Mordhawj with his wife sacrificed his son for Krishna ’s hungry lion. Krishna asked to offer one half to his lion and another half to throw on the roof. Finally, son came back alive once Krishna asked to call their son and took meal with guests.
One more tale about Krishna- Sudama friendship has been folks' favorite in the culture. When poor Sudama met Krishna [bta mere yar sudama] and Sudama complains about Krishna`s wife [ Mera diya man sa mar] .When he goes back surprised to see big house (Mahal) instead of his hut. Some songs express Sudama`s apprehensive thoughts [kiske mahal makan] & [pandra din me] to see changed scenario of his house. It is assumed that Krishna changed overall status of his poor childhood friend.
In another category, Krishna as God and devotee asking Saveriya ( Krishna ) to let her know Gita Gyaan (Gita` teaching) in which several events of his life are highlighted [Ho Saveriya]. In the current song, it is expressed that every happening is predetermined (by Krishna ) so none should blame others [krishan harkam karta] and in another song asking for chanting Radhe- Radhe for tension/stress free life [Radhe-Radhe]
In this saga, Gopi chand`s (a king) mother wants her son as eternal. She came to know the Guru who could do this miracle. For this the king has to leave all worldly possessions and need to stay in forest with the Guru. King refuses as there was no one to take care of his kingdom [Man matana] .
First, mother compels him to go but he declines after questioning his concern and duties to his 16 queens and 12 daughters. But being forced, the king accepts it. Later, she requests her son to come back for some time once any of his queens produces an offspring but this time the king refuses [beta kan padale mundra ta gadiy dhari sa ].
In all Sagas, there are same social trends; Bhat an emotional occasion, son preference, less cordial relationship with in- laws (Shiva-parvati) represent to some extent today’s society perception.
Message driven folk songs (Bhajan):
Song says you will have ups and downs (benefits & loses). Do not be elated when you have ups and do not be depressed when you face downs. Maintain balanced life [To be added]. Prayer for well being [ham vinti] ; God's blessing [he bagwan] ; surrender to God [nahi bagat ki har] ; chanting [nam parhu] & [om nam] , inviting in Satsang and its introduction [sathan aao he] ;come and sit in God attention [aa bath hari ke dyan] ; prayer for peace [Om Santi] and Aarti [Om jai jagdish] are sample of extensively populated folk songs category.
Satsang is prevailing across the culture rural as well as urban locality. However, Women’s folk songs are not getting that much affiliation in today`s society and interest is gradually decreasing in younger generation. We found gradual new addition in men’s folk songs (Ragini) which was not the case with women’s. Older generation has more interest in religious songs (satsang) resulting in new creations; on the other hand we observed that there is paucity of new songs in the category of other folk songs.
- Sample of folk songs has been taken from a district of Haryana (Rohtak). Next step is to go more deeply in
interior society and to see how it is prevailing in different villages. However, almost all women have villager
relations and have frequent visit over there that is why, rural and small town folksongs have intermingling nature.
- We hypothesize that collective singing in an unconditional setting and facilitate women`s well being and reduce
negative emotions especially in Satsang.
It is a small sample of folksongs though culture has a plethora of all type of folksongs. Our understanding is that through this the current socio- cultural problems may be addressed and message driven songs may be introduced to rural women. In an Interview, Dr. Ramphal Cahal who have delivered Grameen Sansar programme (a very famous program for villagers) on Radio station, Rohtak for more than 20 years, acknowledged that folk songs must come from rural women only because synthetic songs (imposed upon them) do not get popularity in the society. We also observed that lot of documented message driven reading material available in the local libraries but message is not reaching to deserving people. That is why, aim of this project is to understand existing status of folk songs and motivate them to develop new folk songs in context of current scenario. It supposes to serve three purposes: addressing current socio cultural problems through folk songs, getting relaxed in this unconditional setting and affiliating women’s singing art. For instance, variety of folk songs by male singers (Competition Ragini) is frequently being sung in the society and several available on internet (You Tube). Men not only had more leisure time than women in rural culture, they were simply more at liberty to decide what they wanted to do with their time, Puchner (2003).