Hyderabad: If things go according to plan, the traditional Dholak ke Geet will be back at wedding ceremonies soon. Though women well-versed in these geet are much sought after, the tradition gradually faded away from weddings.
Sameena Begum, a scholar at MANUU has compiled a collection of 160 dholak songs and the Mehr Organisation is providing patronage to women who are ready to perform at ceremonies.
Dholak ke Geet is a form of song and lyric intoned to the beats of the dhol or drum. Hyderabadi Dholak ke Geet is a composition of folk songs in the Urdu Deccani dialect, usually performed at marriage ceremonies. It was an integral part of cultural and social life till about three decades ago. Rich and poor alike celebrated their happiness by engaging mirasans (professional women singers) to sing the geet. Women of all ages from young girls to the aged sang the geet all night at weddings and sometimes at public gatherings in small villages.
On matrimonial occasions, various kinds of geet were sung. For instance, on the occasion of mangani (engagement), Paon-mez ki Rasam (an occasion when the relatives of groom take the measurement for the footwear of the the bride), Manjhe ki Rasam (a ceremony in which turmeric paste is applied on the body of the bride and bridegroom to brighten their complexion), Sanchak (a ceremony in which costumes and other stuff for bride and groom called bari is taken), mehndi (when relatives of the bride and bridegroom take henna to each other’s houses), julwa (after the marriage ceremony in which bride and bridegroom are seated face to face and a mirror is placed between them, and the groom sees the bride for the first time), rukhsati (farewell), chauthi (arrival of bride to her maternal on the morning after the marriage), valima (reception given by bridegroom) and jumagi (celebrated for five Fridays after the marriage).
Apart from wedding ceremonies women used to sing geets on the dholak at the time of pregnancy and childbirth, such as the gode bharai (ceremony performed when bride enters the seventh month of pregnancy), chatti (performed when newborn is six days old), aqeeqa (a Sunnah in which a goat is sacrificed on the birth of a child), and chilla (forty days after the birth of the baby). Most of the time, the female members of the family hosting the event joined the singers, sometimes all night long.
Dholak ke Geet was an integral part of weddings in the erstwhile Hyderabad state, but unfortunately these songs were not recorded and very little has been written about this form of music.
In 2011, well-known Urdu writer Fatima Yezdani wrote the only book on this subject titled Bannu Meri Saj Rahi Maa. Recently, Sameena Begum, whose thesis was on ‘Dholak ke Geet in South India’, released her book Hyderabadi Dholak ke Geet.
Ms Begum said the geet have no specific features nor do they deal with a particular subject. Rhythm and tune are very important and the language and wording of the geet are specific to an area. The first line of a geet is usually repeated at regular intervals.
Ms Begum said Dholak ke Geet were an integral part of Hyderabadi culture. “The dhol has been handed down to us by our elders in the form of heritage. The Dholak ke Geet describe the customs and practices of people, and even jewellery they wore and the process of beautification and discussions of different kinds of cookery,” she said.
Many prosperous families want the Dholak ke Geet to be performed at the time of weddings and other auspicious occasions, but there are very few women who can perform the geet. Due to lack of patronage, this folk art has almost died out.
Books like Ms Begum’s may lead to some revival of interest. The Mehr Organisation, too, is doing its bit. Its general secretary Mohammed Affan Quadri said, “We are identifying women who sing geet on dhole. We are going to form teams of such women to perform on wedding occasions. We will train them.”...