Different Folk Songs of Assam

Assam has a unique pride of place when it comes to traditional folk songs and music. Region-wise  however, these traditional songs and music have their own distinct styles and forms, and they differ in their rendition patterns, thanks to different cultures in different parts of the state. Yet, all these combine together to make the colourful composite Assamese culture. And, even as we march towards modernity, these very folk traditions reflect our cultural identity. 

Historians claim that a distinctive culture of the conglomeration of Songs, Musical Instruments and Dance was observed in Assam during the 2nd century. The legend of Princess Usha of Sonitpur and her cohort Chitralekha also enlighten us on the Musical expertise of the Assamese women. History also claims that Assamese Music was admired even in China.
Goalpariya songs are a major component of the Assamese folk traditions. With a distinctive style, these folk songs instantly touch the inner chords of listeners with their melody. It was Pratima Barua Pandey – billed the Samraggi of Goalpariya Lokageet – who popularised these folk songs all over Assam with her unique style of rendition, assisted with able instrumentalists. Conferred with the coveted Padmashri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the late singer was also instrumental in putting Goalpariya folk songs on a firm pedestal at the national level.

Different Folk Songs of Assam :

 OJA-PALI : - A unique performing art form that consists of a perfect blending of narrative singing, dancing    and dramatic interludes. Originally from Darrang District of Assam, this art form is presented by 5 to 6  performers, usually men. The main performer is called the Oja and the other members are called Palis. In  this performance, only one instrument is used, i.e. Khutitaal

BOR-DHOL :-A group of 10 or more members perform this instrumental art by playing Bordhol (a cylindrical percussion instrument of about 1 meter in length and half a meter in diameter). The members of the team are called Bordhuliyas. This performance is mainly performed during Deul or Holi, Durga Puja and other occasions.

Goalporiya Lokageet :  The folksongs from the erstwhile Goalpara district of Assam is an integral part of Assamese Music. With the traditional language of Goalpara district, these songs describe and represent the social life of people. Pratima Barua Pandey, the legendary folk singer popularized the genre of Goalpariya lokageet into the mainstream Assamese music and even to the international arena.
Jhumur : These songs and dances are from the tea garden ofAssam. Jhumur is basically performed by the tea tribe peoples ofAssam. This dance is performed by girls and boys together, sometimes by the girls alone, with precision of foot work while clasping tightly each others waist.Their unique music along with the dance performance really adds to the rhythmic sensation to the music.
Tokari Geet : The folksong of Assam, Tokari Geet is basically based on social life of human being and different stories from mythology. These songs mainly explain the human body and soul. These songs are performed with instruments called Tokari (a kind of musical instruments with single string which is played with fingers), flutes, cymbals etc. These songs are sung by men with a group leader accompanied by chorus and musical instruments.

Dihanam : A kind of congregational prayers sung by women with different instruments like Nagara, Taal along with clapping of hands. These songs are mainly sung in call and response style by women. The parts of Kirtan Ghosha, the holy book of Vaishnavites and Borgeets are used in singing to praise Lord Krishna.

Jikir and Jari :A unique art of  music among the Assamese Muslim community, Jikir and Jari are considered as an integral part of Assamese Devotional Music. These 17<sup>th</sup> century songs created by Ajan Fakir were a strong bond among the Hindu and Muslim communities. Though the Jari is associated with Jikir, there are differences between these two. Jaris are more Islam centric than Jikirs. It is believed that Jari can be sung only on few occasions, because there is a belief that whenever Jari is sung, the rain comes. Jari describes the different stories of Islams, where as  Jikirs are the  compositions that have non-Islamic social issues too along with Sufism. Though the content of the Jikir is Muslim oriented, but the form of expression is totally folk, based on Assam.

Aainam : This traditional devotional folk song specially associated with the illness and health, especially sung during the time of small pox. Performed by women to praise Sitala Devi (Goddess Sitala) with the hand clappings, Aainam is still there in the rural Assam.
Bihu : Assam is known for Bihu and Bihu is known for Assam. Poetic lyrics and the celebration of life expressed through Bihu songs are the life line of Assamese culture. Songs sung in Bihu are woven around themes of love and often carry erotic overtones. People adorn traditional attires like Dhoti, Gamocha and Chadar, Mekhela. Bihu songs performed by young boys and girls characterised by brisk stepping, flinging and flipping of hands and swaying of hips represents youthful passion, reproductive urge.

Holi Geet : Performed in the lower Assam, basically in the Barpeta district of Assam, these types of songs performed by group of Men on the occasion of Douljatra or Holi. With the instruments called Dhulki (a kind of drum) and Khunjuri (a kind of cymbal) they perform Holi Geets. The main theme of Holi Geet is based on Lord Sri Krishna.

Deori Mosaia : Performed by the Deori communities of Assam, Deori Mosaia, beasically performed by the Deori women. They sing these mourning songs standing in a line accompanied by hand clapping and cymbals.

Nao Khelor geet (The song of the boat race) : 'Nao Khelor geet’ are a pattern of Assamese folk song . At lower Assam, especially at Barpeta sub-division, in ancient time, the mean of the transportation and the communication was only the boat. When the boatman had gone so tired and fatigue, then some of the boatman has song some so beautiful and mind-blowing songs, which were composed with music by them. Those folk-songs are carried out until now, generation by generation. Those most mind-blowing fantastic and attractive folk-songs are the most important part of the Assamese literature and culture.

  By those songs, the social condition economic condition, family life and personal life of the people, specialty the boat- man of the Assam.

Holee Geet : Holee Geet, a beautiful, mind-blowing gift to Assamese literature and culture . This pattern of Assamese traditional song is singing at the times of celebration of festival ‘Holee’. ‘Holee’ songs are originated froms Barpeta of Assam. For the first time Mahapurus Sankardev started to celebrate the festival ‘Holee’ at the holy city Bardowa and at that festival time, the people songs this Holee songs which were composed by Sankardeva. Next time, after Sankardeva, at the time of Madhabdeva, ‘Holee’ festival was celebrated at Barpeta foe the first time at the celebration time, the joyous people song some melodious and festive songs, which are composed by Sankardeva and Madhabdeva.

 But, at the modern time (twentieth century) some poet like Assam Keshoree Ambikagiree Raychoudhury, Prasannalal Choudhury, Girish Das, Purosotham Das,Girish Ch. Das, Gokul Pathak etc.  have composed some so beautiful ‘Holee’ songs . Now a day, those songs are sung also. The subject matter of the ‘Holee’ song is relating to God Vishnu or Krishna.

Siyaan Geet : Initiated by the followers of Sri Sri Shankardeva, these song are basically same as traditional Lokogeets.  Mainly devotional, these songs are relating to different characters in Hindu mythology.

Dehbichar Geet  These spiritual and mystic songs were introduced in the post Shankardeva era. These songs have similarities with the Baul songs of West Bengal. Instruments such as, Khanjari, Dotara, Tokaree are used to sing the song.

Seon Chapori Naam : Somewhat similar to the Ojapali, these unique folksongs from Darrang district are based on different mythological stories. The performance consists of one Pathak (leader), a few followers, one Nagara player and two Taal palyers. The performance also include short dramas.


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