Folk music of Punjab

Punjabi folk music (Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੋਕ ਸੰਗੀਤ) is the traditional music on the traditional musical instruments of the Punjab region.[1][2] There is a great repertoire of music from the time of birth through the different stages of joy and sorrow till death.[3] The folk music invokes the traditions as well as the hardworking nature, bravery and many more things that the people of Punjab get from its gateway-to-India geographical location. Due to the large area with many sub-regions, the folk music has minor lingual differences but invokes the same feelings. The sub-regions, Malwa, Doaba, Majha, Pothohar, Puadh and hills areas, have numerous folk songs.[4]

Punjabi folk music is known for its fierce rivalry against Bhangra music which is a genre of Punjabi modern music invented in Britain by the Punjabi diaspora.

General features of musical style


The rhythm of Punjabi folk music is very simple.[5] unlike the rhythms of Bhangra music which are generally complex


Some songs like Heer and Mirza are sung using the traditional compositions. Due to the lack of musicianship Punjabi folk genre is committed to re using melodies created hundreds of years ago albeit with new lyrics

Folk songs

Punjab has folk songs on birth, marriage, death, love, separation, beauty, social and economical status, village lifestyle, food, nature, bravery, folklores & folktales, folk romances, folk & historical heroes, festivals and many more.[2] The songs of professional castes of Punjab are also included in the folk songs. They can be divided into the following categories:

Occasions for singing


Punjabi folk music is associated with a traditional lifestyle and culture. Many of the themes associated with the songs involve the promotion of the ills of Punjabi society such as the caste system and substance abuse as well as superstitious beliefs. Many revolutions in Punjab such as the Sikh revolution were in direct opposition of Punjabi folk songs.

Life-cycle rituals

A large part of Punjabi folk songs presents the picture of incidents from birth to death[4] relations, realitives also including the songs on other occasions, festivals and fairs. The songs by women represents their soft feelings, nature, hobbies and lower social status in limited circle while the songs by men represents their freedom, strength and hardworking. The folk songs starts from the birth of a child then name ceremony, marriage, relations, relatives and much more. There are many songs on the different stages of a marriage like Suhag, Ghorhian, Sehra, Sithnian. Suhag is related to bride while Ghorhian and Sehra are related to groom. A daughter's feelings have a special place in the Punjabi folk songs in which she address to his father asking to find her a better home, good people (in-laws) and many more. By length and mood, the different kinds of songs includes Suhag,[6] Ghorhian, Bolian,[7] Tappe,[8] Sithnian,[9] Chhand,[10] Heara, Lorian etc.[2][4]

Fairs and festivals

Every festive occasion has music associated with it.[3] Lohri and Maghi are associated with the change of season while Visakhi is a harvest festival. Men dance Bhangra and women dance Giddha. The month of Sawan is one of great joy for females in which they celebrate the festival of Teeyan.[3] The married ones come back to their parents' home and meet their family and friends and in an open ground they dance Giddha. They wear colorful dresses like Phulkari, and adorn their hands with Mehndi and glass bangles.

Types of textual themes


Jugni, Mahia, Tappe, Jindua, Dhola, Kafian, Dohre, Bolian, Sadda, Jhokan and the folk romances of Punjab region like Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun are main folk love songs.[1][2][3] Heer and Mirza are sung using traditional compositions.


In heroic or bravery, the folk song includes about the Punjabi heroes like Dulla Bhatti,[11][12] Raja Rasalu, Jagga Jatt, S. Bhagat Singh, S. Udham Singh, Sucha Soorma[13] and Jiona Maurh.[4]


Songs about worship, religious ceremonies and festivals represents the religious feelings.

Sikhism is closely related with music.[3] The sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind, established the singers called Dhadis to sing the Gurbani, Vaars (English: heroic ballads) and other folk genres using the normally two folk instruments, Dhad and Sarangi.[3]

The other religions like Islam have Qawwalis, Naats and Hamds and Hinduism have Bhajans and Punjabi have Punjabi songs and Hindi songs.


Punjabi singers may sing unaccompanied or along with such traditional instruments as dhol, tumbi, dhadd, sarangi, gharha, gagar, chimta, or algoze.[1][2][3]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Pande, Alka (1999). Folk music and musical instruments of Punjab. Mapin Publishers. p. 128. ISBN 1-890206-15-6.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Thind, Karnail Singh (2002). Punjab Da Lok Virsa (reprint ed.). Patiala: Punjabi University. p. 231. ISBN 81-7380-223-8.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "The Music of Punjab". Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੇ ਲੋਕ-ਗੀਤ" (in Punjabi). Retrieved May 22, 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. Sharma, Manorma (2009). Musical heritage of India. p. 228.
  6. "Punjab heritage comes alive on concluding day". The Tribune. Ludhiana. October 1, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  7. "Power failure hits show". The Tribune. Chandigarh. May 21, 1999. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  8. "Two plays staged". The Tribune. Amritsar. February 19, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  9. Maini, Darshan Singh (1979). Studies in Punjabi poetry. Vikas. p. 158. ISBN 0-7069-0709-4.
  10. Shivnath (1976). History of Dogri literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 194.
  11. "Lahore's Crumbling Gateways". The Tribune. January 8, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  12. "'Dulla Bhatti' traces heroic deeds of folk character". The Tribune. Amritsar. January 13, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  13. "The all-pervading spirit". The Tribune. January 20, 1999. Retrieved May 22, 2012.

Further reading

Bedi, Sohindar Singh. 1971. Folklore of the Punjab. New Delhi: National Book Trust.
Lybarger, Lowell H. 2011. "Hereditary Musician Groups of Pakistani Punjab." Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
Nahar Singh. 2011. "Suhāg and Ghoṛīāṅ: Culture's Elucidation in a Female Voice." Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
Nayyar, Adam. 2000. "Punjab." In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 5, South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent, ed. by Allison Arnold. New York; London: Garland.
Nijhawan, Michael. 2006. Dhadi Darbar. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Pande, Alka. 1999. Folk Music & Musical Instruments of Punjab. Middletown, NJ: Grantha Corporation.
Schreffler, Gibb. 2004. "Vernacular Music and Dance of Punjab." Journal of Punjab Studies 11(2).
Schreffler, Gibb. 2011. "Music and Musicians in Punjab." Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
Schreffler, Gibb. 2011. "Western Punjabi Song Forms: Māhīā and Ḍholā." Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
Thuhi, Hardial. 2011. "The Folk Dhadi Genre." Trans. by Gibb Schreffler. Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
Thuhi, Hardial. 2011. "The Tumba-Algoza Ballad Tradition." Trans. by Gibb Schreffler. Journal of Punjab Studies 18(1/2).
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