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Friday, December 03, 2021

Songs of farmers, their protest and victory take centrestage at weddings

It is the wedding of Chhelu Ram’s nephew, Pankaj Dhaka, in Bhuthan Kalan village of Fatehabad and the air is rife with celebrations. As relatives ask Chhelu Ram, 56, to come dance with them, he instead silently walks up to the man who was playing songs on his DJ music set. He then quietly asks […]

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
November 24, 2021 8:09:37 am
Ajay Hooda’s song kadar kisan ki has been downloaded at least on 1,700 channels on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Express

It is the wedding of Chhelu Ram’s nephew, Pankaj Dhaka, in Bhuthan Kalan village of Fatehabad and the air is rife with celebrations.

As relatives ask Chhelu Ram, 56, to come dance with them, he instead silently walks up to the man who was playing songs on his DJ music set. He then quietly asks him, “Kisan aala chla de (Please play the song on farmer).”

Soon a Haryanvi folk song, “Modi ji thari top kade, hum Delhi aage” (Modi ji where is your canon, we have come to Delhi), starts playing and Chhelu Ram and the others start grooving to it, bursting out uncoordinated dance moves.

And this isn’t just limited to Bhuthan Kalan.

Songs glorifying the months-long farm agitation have started to take the centre stage in almost all of Haryana during wedding functions, and everybody – kids to youngsters to the elderly – seem to loving them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement last week declaring that the three contentitious farm laws would be taken back has caused a tectonic shift in wedding songs that are played. The usual marriage songs have quickly disappeared, with songs about farmers and their victory taking centre stage.

“These are songs of farmers’ victory and the songs of victory are always remembered better. Till the next big episode happens, these songs will continue to be sung. That is how these songs change,” says M Rajivlochan, a history professor at Chandigarh’s Panjab University.

Before being part of wedding functions, the song “Modi ji thari top kade, hum Delhi aage”, had inspired thousands of farmers protesting across the whole of north India. People were quick to make it their mobile ringtones/callertune and the song could even be heard being blared loudly in cars and jeeps too.
Likewise, another Haryanvi folk song “kadar kisan ki”, written by an ex-serviceman Ajay Hooda of a Rohtak village, has been a superhit with millions in the Hindi belt of the country, where it has been attracting millions of viewers on social media platforms.

The lyrics, “Re karlo kadar kisan ki, sare milke baat karo iske samman ki” (Let’s respect farmer, join hands to talk about his honour), talk about the difficulties faced by farmers, despite being our “annadatas”. It highlights the problem of suicides by farmers and pleads that the police do not resort to lathicharge them.

Haryanvi lyricist, Ajay Hooda, had earlier told The Indian Express, “The song kadar kisan ki has been downloaded at least on 1,700 channels or groups of different social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.”

Talking about the song’s objective, Hooda had stated, “This country has only two Gods – one kisans and the other jawans. A jawan gets salary and are responsible for the security of the nation. Likewise, the farmers feed the entire country. But despite that they face adverse financial conditions. I wanted to highlight the challenges of the farmers by singing a song on them.”

A farmer leader from Fatehabad, Mandeep Nathwan, said, “Not only songs, even flags of various farmer outfits have now become a symbol of pride now. They go to wedding parties with such flags on their vehicles. People now feel proud being a farmer. Their self-confidence has increased. This agitation has not only brought awareness among the people about the political system of the country but it has also highlighted the functioning of the corporate sector and media too.”

Historian M Rajivlochan terms this outcome of the farmer agitation as “quite normal”. He said, “The songs are always concerned with contemporary events and they mould contemporary events into the memories of the people. So, the songs create a new memory for everyone to share. After the mutiny of 1857, similar songs were written about various characters. You would have heard about the numerous heroes pertaining to the 1857 mutiny from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. These heroes are remembered by us because of these songs. The songs were written; what did Jhalkari Bai and Rani Jhansi do? Rani Jhansi jumped from the fort that was not recorded in military history but in the songs of Bundelkhand. In the Gwalior region, almost everyone sings these songs.”

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