Bhishma Pitamaha of Uttarakhand folk music : Chander Singh Rahi  | Doonited.India

May 22, 2019

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Bhishma Pitamaha of Uttarakhand folk music : Chander Singh Rahi 

Bhishma Pitamaha of Uttarakhand folk music : Chander Singh Rahi 
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 Chander Singh Rahi fondly called the “Bhishma Pitamaha of Uttarakhand folk music” for his deep devotion to the music of Uttarakhand curated more than 2500 folk songs from Uttarakhand and gave his voice to more than 500 songs of Garhwali and Kumaoni language. He was also a talented musician, poet, and song-writer. He is known for his Uttarakhandi songs including ‘Sarag tara‘, ‘Bhana hai rangeeli bhana‘, ‘Sauli ghura ghur‘, ‘Saat samundar paar‘, ‘Hilma chandi ku‘, and ‘Jara thandu chla di‘.

He was also the first singer to sing a ghazal in Garhwali language known as Teri Mukhiri‘. Rahi has been an inspiration was for many later Garhwali singers. Garhwali singer Narendra Singh Negi has cited Chandra Singh Rahi as his inspiration. Rahi’s popular songs Phyonlariya and traditional Anchari Jagar – Chaita Ki Chaitwali were remade by popular Garhwali singers in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Chander Singh Rahi (born, 28 March 1942 – 10 January 2016) was a prominent folk singer, balladeer, musician, poet, storyteller, and cultural conservator from Uttarakhand, India.

Rahi made his singing career debut on the All India Radio (AIR) Delhi station on 13 March 1963, on a program for army personnel, with the song “Par veena ki”. He started singing for AIR Lucknow in 1972. He continued gaining popularity in Uttarakhand through the 1970s, when his songs were broadcast from the AIR Najibabad station, and from the 1980s onwards, when his songs were broadcast on Doordarshan. His was the first Garhwali voice to be heard on the radio. In 1966, Rahi composed his famous geet (song) “Dil ko umaal” (Outpourings of the Heart) for his mentor, the Garhwali poet Kanhaiyalal Dandriyal, who is said to have given him the sobriquet Rahi (traveller).

Rahi sang more than 550 songs in the Garhwali and Kumaoni languages. His work was available on more than 140 audio cassettes. He performed live in over 1,500 shows across India. Some of his celebrated songs include “Sarg tara junyali rata ko sunalo”, “Fyonladiya, Dekh hilma chandi ku batana”, “Chaita ki chaitwali”, “Bhana ho rangeela bhana”, “Satpuli ka senna meri bau surila”, “Tile dharu bola Madhuli”, “Tyere chadri chhutgye pichhne”, and “Sauli ghura ghur”. His first recorded album, Sauli ghura ghur, was a commercial hit.

Rahi was also a songwriter and poet. His poetry collections include Dil ko Umaal (1966), Dhai (1980), Ramchhol (1981), and Geet Ganga (2010). Rahi also wrote monographs and composed music for ballets.

Rahi was considered to be the only person who could play all the folk instruments of Uttarakhand, including the dhol damaun (drums), the shehnai, the daur, the thaali, and the huruki. He also had knowledge of the unknown tala sequences (beat patterns) unique to Pahari music and would seamlessly incorporate these elements in his musical presentations.

Rahi collected and curated more than 2,500 age-old traditional songs covering various folk forms of Uttarakhand including “Khuder Geet”, “Sanskar Geet”, “Barhai”, “Panwara”, “Mela Geet”, “Jhaura, Pandavani”, “Chaunfla”, “Thadiya”, and “Jaagar”. His book, A Comprehensive Study of the Songs, Musical Instruments, and Dances of the Central Himalayas, was to be published by Uttaranchal Sahitya, Sanskriti evam Kala Parishad. He was also an avid collector of folk musical instruments of Uttarakhand.

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