Musical instruments of Uttarakhand

Musical instruments of Uttarakhand

Damama

This consists of two leathered brass cones one somewhat bigger and the other small in size. The bigger one is called ‘Daindama’ while the smaller one is called ‘Baundamu’. Both produce different sound when beaten with sticks known as ‘Lakur.’

Dhol

This is a drum in which a wooden or brass hollow is covered with leather at both ends. At one end it is beaten with a stick while the other end is patted with the palm. It is generally played in Barats, Navratris and religious processions.

Binai

‘Binai’ is a small instrument made of iron made by local blacksmiths. In shape, it is similar to the horse’s cord. There is a thin and flexible band between the two thick attached tweezers of iron. vibration is produced on pressing both ends of the tweezers between the teeth and moving the fingers on in the thin strip of iron. By the fusion of vibration and whiff of the player, a harmonious sound emerges. The diversity of the tone is created by increasing and decreasing pressure inside the hollow. With lesser and lesser number of people taking up the blacksmith’s trade, there are not many people left who can make a Binai.

Currently you cannot see the ‘Binai’ anywhere in Uttarakhand. Some 20-30 years back it was played extensively in the villages of Uttarakhand. Like many other musical instruments, we have lost ‘Binai’ too. Although there are a lot of books about musical instruments and lot of articles on the internet too, but  ‘Binai’ is not recorded anywhere as an instrument belonging to Uttarakhand’s musical heritage.

Hurka

The staccato beats of the hurka are heard in almost every song or dance performance in Uttarakhand. It also finds mention in Bharat Muni’s ‘Natya Shastra’ – the first treatise on theatrical forms. This is a percussion instrument and can be played solo or with other instruments like the flute, brass plate or bagpipe.

Turturi or turhi

This trumpet-like organ is found in two forms. One is quite long and curved in shape while the other resembles a snake in its coiled form. It is made of brass or copper and its blowing is generally accompanied with the beating of the Damama. A special type of Turturi, the ‘Ranasingha’ looks like a hooded cobra or a curved animal horn.

Muruli or Flute

Muruli or flute has been an integral part of the lives of shepherds and cattle grazers in Uttarakhand. They have created a number of folk tunes while grazing cattle in the jungles or meadows. The ever-enchanting landscapes undoubtedly provided the inspiration to create new tunes on which some folk songs are based.

Besides these, instruments like the Damru (the well known musical instrument of Lord Shiva), Muryo or Muraj, Jhat, Brass plate etc are also used in local religious processions, rituals or folk music and dance forms. Interestingly, the players of these instruments belong to the artisan class, which is at the lower rung of the social hierarchy. A systematic study of all these musical instruments and their history will probably add another chapter in the omnibus of Indian classical music, besides revealing some interesting anthropological information.

Mushak Been or Bagpipe

This well-known Scottish instrument was introduced in Uttarakhand by the British army some 200 years back around the Anglo-Gorkha was of 1814-15. Now it is an inseparable part of folk music and dance. This testifies the receptivity and addictiveness of the local people.

Paintings of Uttrakhand

The development of the Garhwal school of painting as a branch of the Pahari school of art is believed to have started in the 17th century and reached its zenith in the latter half of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. The chief pioneer behind this growth was the eminent Garhwali painter, poet and historian Mola Ram.  In the 17th century, the Mughal Prince Suleman Shikoh had taken refuge in Garhwal. He was accompanied by a few artists well versed in the Mughal style of miniature paintings. When he returned he left behind Shamdas and Haridas, who had already mastered the new painting techniques. These two were the ancestors of Mola Ram.

The Pahari Painting is inspired by the battles between good and evil. It has covered vast subjects like Indian life; its history, culture and traditions, with a touch of divinity. There is a lot of subtle spiritual content in the art, literature and mythology that has survived for generations in the Indian sub-continent. The Pahari Kalam style of painting was developed in the Kumaon area and was practiced in some of the Himalayan regions.

Aipan or Alpana is a popular Kumaoni art form done on walls, paper and pieces of cloth. This decorative art includes drawings of various geometric and other figures representing gods, goddesses and objects of nature. The pichhauras or dupattas are also decorated in this way. These ritual designs and patterns are an expression of a women’s artistic taste.  Barboond, Patta, Rangwali etc. are some more forms of local ritual paintings to be done on specific occasions.  Besides these some spots like Lakhudiyar, Falseema, Kasardevi in Kumaon and Dungri in garhwal have traces of ancient rock paintings and engravings.

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