Kumaoni Songs & Music

Music of Uttarakhand

Folk music of Uttarakhand refers to the traditional and contemporary songs of Kumaon and Garhwal regions in the foothills of Himalayas. This music has its root in the lap of nature and the hilly terrain of the region.

The folks songs of Uttarakhand are a reflection of the cultural heritage and the way people live their lives in the Himalayas. Common themes in the folk music of Uttarakhand are the beauty of nature, various seasons, festivals, religious traditions, cultural practices, folk stories, historical characters, the bravery of ancestors and love ballads.

Traditional musical instruments used in Uttarakhandi music include the dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora and masakbhaja. Tabla and Harmonium are also sometimes used, especially in recorded folk music from the 1960s onwards. In recent years, Uttarakhandi folk songs have undergone transformation. Generic Indian and global musical instruments have been incorporated in modern popular folks by singers like Narendra Singh Negi, Gopal Babu Goswami, Mohan Upreti, Chandra Singh Rahi etc. Modern themes include geo-political issues affecting the region, humour, nostalgia for the hills by the diaspora etc.

Traditional folk songs from the region, include ceremonial mandals, martial panwaras and melancholy khuded, thadya and jhoda.

A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)

Media and art

Megha Aa, (First Kumaoni Film). Director Kaka Sharma, Produced S S Bisht, 1987
Teri Saun, (First film both in Kumaoni and Garhwali), written, produced, and directed by Anuj Joshi, 2003.
Aapun Biraan (Apne Paraye) by Shri Kartikey Cine Productions. Written by Rajendra Bora (Tribhuvan Giri). Produced by Bhaskar Singh Rawat. 2007.
Madhuli by Anamika Film, 2008.
Aapke Liye, a 1985 TV show aired in Doordarshan Directed by sharbat sanzarr and presented by Mohan Manral showcases the kumaoni mela “kauteek”.

Kumaoni theatre which developed through its ‘Ramleela’ plays, later evolved into a modern theatre form with the efforts of theatre stalwarts like Mohan Upreti and Dinesh Pandey, and groups like ‘Parvatiya Kala Kendra’ (started by Mohan Upreti) and ‘Parvatiya Lok Kala Manch’. “Ankhar” of Lucknow did a very good work in the field of kumaoni theater. Ankhar played a number of kumauni plays like “mee yo gayun, mee yo satkyun” writer Nand Kumar Upreti, “Punturi” by Charu Chandra Pandey, “Motor Road” by Govind Ballabh Pant, “Labh Ribhadi” writer Nand Kumar Upreti, “Kagare Aag” and “Tumhare Liye” by Himanshu Joshi, Kumauni translation Naveeen Joshi and कुमाउनी नाटक-जैल थै, वील पै.