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Kajali – Folk Music in Uttar Pradesh And Bihar – Kajari Folk Songs

Kajali is one of the most popular types of folk music in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Kajari folk songs are mostly sung during the rainy season when dark clouds gather and people express their joy, welcoming rain on the parched earth.

Some musicologists opine that the very term, kajali, has been derived from kajala, i.e. the darkness that shrouds the land when dark clouds gather.

Kajali folk songs contain vivid description of nature and symbolically relate nature to the agony of the beloved’s heart. The beloved longs for her lover’s company.

In most of the songs the beloved is Radha and the lover is Krishna or Kanahiya. They occasionally come up with very imaginative similes. One of them compares the river Yamuna’s swollen floods during the rainy season with the beloved stretching out her arms to her lover.

The themes of these songs are generally romantic and the language is Avadhi or Bhjpuri dialect of Hindi, with a liberal use of onomatopoetic expression for a profound impact.

The rhythms such as kaharava or dadara set these songs to have a very full lilting melody.

Although the style is not classical, some simple ragas like Pilu, Desa or Khamaja are used.

In Benaras and Mirzapur, people usually sing these songs in groups in front of temples or in an open public place throughout the night.

While Mirzapuri Kajali is more earthly and folk-based, Benaras Kajali acquires some classical flavor.

Due to its extreme popularity, notable classical music singers sing these songs in solo performance or conclude their classical performance with Kajali songs, particularly during the rainy season.

Important exponents of Kajali folks songs are Girija Devi, Savita Devi, Begum Akhtar, Siddheshwari Devi and Badi Moti Bai.

Some of the famous compositions of Kajali songs are the following:

Radha jhoolan padharo, ghiri ayi badaria
(O beloved Radha, says Krishna,come and enjoy our time in swinging on the swings as the sky is covered with dark dense clouds.)

Barsan lagi re savanna bundiya, pare bin lage na mori ankhiyan
(The rain drops of Sawan month have started coming down but without my beloved I just cannot sleep)

SAvana jhara lagi re dhire dhire
(Gently falls the rain in the month of Sawan)

Source -
Sangita Sastra Darpana (1986) Lakshmi Narain Garga - Sageet Karyalaya Hatharas Uttar Pradesh
Encyclopedia of Hinduism - page 377-378 - Volume V - IHRF