Mani Sankar Barik was born in a family of Musicians near Calcutta in West Bengal (India) He started learning Sitar at the age of six. He received talim from his father, well-known Vocalist and from renowned Sitarist Pandit Manilal Nag of Bishnupur Gharana. Mani Sankar has established himself as a talented and promising young Sitarist of present generation. He has performed in a number of prestigious Music Circles and Conferences throughout India. He has been awarded Sangeet Praveen by the Prayag Sangit Samiti, Allahabad and Sangeet Ratna by the Bangiya Sangeet Parishad, Calcutta. He is a regular artiste of the All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan. He has credit to release audio cassette & CD “Rejoice” from Rageshree Music Institute Inc., New York, USA. At present he is serving as a Teacher in The Lawrence School, Sanawar of Himachal Pradesh (India). email: email@example.com
Folk Music Tradition of Himachal Pradesh
About 90% population of the state comprises of Hindus. The major communities include Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. The tribal population comprises the Gaddis, Gujjars, Kinnars, Lahaulis and Pangawals. Most of the people are dependent on agriculture. With the diversity in cultural heritage, the use of language in Himachal Pradesh generally differs from district to district. Some of the commonly spoken languages are Hindi, Pahari, Kangri, Kinnauri, Punjabi, Dogri and Gojri. This multiplicity has been a very fine example of unity in diversity.
Himachal Pradesh has its own identity for its rich culture of music and dance. It is the integral part of the life of Himachalis. There is no classical form of music in this state but plenty of folk music can be heard which are best performed by the people of a particular area. The folk songs of Himachal Pradesh lure through the green valleys. They are indirectly around daily chores and are a retreat after a hard day’s work. The state of Himachal Pradesh encompasses, within its vicinity, many remote areas. Such areas use traditional ways of living far from the modern day hustle and bustle. For these simple people, simple are the ways of life, simple is their music. Most of the Himachali folk songs require no such instruments to accompany. They are sung to the heart’s delight that renders the uniqueness. The emotions burst out in them for making the songs soul-touching.
The music and dance of the state is mainly religion-oriented where gods
are invoked during the festivals by singing and dancing. This practice
has continued since ancient times. The subject matter of the folk songs
of Himachal Pradesh varies largely of romance, chivalry and changing
seasons but loves, separation, eagerness for one’s love are common
themes. Sometimes the songs are accompanied by dance which may mean
community dances too. Important festivals, rituals, fairs and onset of
seasons are perfect reasons for the beautiful rendering that is so
peculiar to Himachal Pradesh. The tunes and melodies blend perfectly
with the people and places as it reverberates through the mesmerizing
landscape. The folk songs are full of charm. People gather in a circle
in village fairs and dance to the tune of these songs.
Each piece is sung in four lines and the last syllable of the first line
is pronounced in a long-lasting fashion. This is a peculiarity of Jhoori
songs and this part of the songs is greeted with cheer among the
spectators and rhythm invariably plays the most important role in such
There are also songs which recall some important historical events like the sacrifice of Rani Suhi for a public cause, like bringing drinking water to Chamba town. The song called Sukrat is soulfully rendered and depicts the great story of the sacrifice of the Rani, famous for her feeling of love for the people and her deep human sympathy for them. Another tragic story telling the love of a brother who takes upon himself the blame for the murder his brother committed and thereby goes to the gallows in Bilaspur is depicted in one of the saddest song called Mohana.
Ceremonial lyrics such as Bhayi, Suhag, Suhagare and Vidayi are sung on
special occasions like birth, betrothal and marriage. Seasonal song like
Chhinj is sung only in Chaitra (March).
SAMASKARA SONG: The Samskara songs are folk songs of the state of Himachal Pradesh with the distinct tune that is reminiscent of a distant mountainous land. These songs are mainly sung at family festivals, gatherings and other similar moments for celebration. The Samskara songs of Himachal Pradesh have their base in classical Ragas. This bound the songs by intricate detailing that needs a considerable amount of expertise on the part of the Samskara singers. They are sung with great fervour by women who only belong to certain higher castes.
The Samskara songs are sung either in the morning or may be at the fall
of night. Samskara songs that are enjoyed as morning songs usually bear
traces of Raga in them. Samskara songs can also be sung in gatherings
that centre on weddings. In such instances the songs are set in old
Indian classical Ragas like Durga, Malkauns, Bhoopali etc.
The singers comprising of males visit the house of the newly married couples and sing the Ainchaliyan songs. The subject matter usually centres on the auspicious marriage of Lord Shiva and Lord Rama. They are romantic songs depicting stories from the conjugal life of these two stalwarts of the Hindu pantheon. The Ainchaliyan singers also sing songs from episodes in Ramayana and Mahabharata. String puppets are common and are very attractive as accompaniments to these types of songs.
The professional singers of Ainchaliyan are accompanied by drum sounding
in a particular way. When Ainchaliyan is sung by the womenfolk, it is
usually in the home of unmarried girls that are bride-to-be, immediately
preceding marriage. Tambourine or Khanjari, as it is locally called, are
common musical instruments used along with the songs. The people flock
around to listen to these romantic songs as they continue to enjoy the
way Gods are presented as enjoying the marital pleasures just like the
human beings. Sometimes these songs become means of spreading awareness
as to the needs of life. During the singing of this song, often a
pitcher is placed on a platter and played with an iron bangle to give a
typical metallic sound. On such occasions, khadtal or wooden castanets
along with the sounds of bells are also used in conjunction. Together
the musical instruments complement and supplement each other to bring
out the music that is so unique to Ainchaliyan songs.
Among the Gaddis small round drums known as Dafale are played at weddings. These are slung round the necks of the players and rhythms like Dhamal and Lahauli are played upon these.
Drums are made with locally available material. Their shapes and the methods of playing upon them reveal local traditions. The Dhol of Kulu, the Damangtu and Nagartu of Sirmaur are all played differently in the tribal areas. As soon as the drums sound, the entire community gathers together and lose itself in vigorous singing and dancing. Earlier the Baren (martial ballads) of Ram Singh Pathania were sung to the accompaniment of Dafale by singers known as Adavale. These songs are sung in the Sirmaur area. The largest of the drums is Dhaunsa which is played standing. Tung Yung is a similar instrument.
Percussion Instruments: Percussion instruments like Jhanjh (large cymbals), Manjira (small cymbals), Chimta (tongs). Ghanta (gongs), Ghariyal (large gong), Thali (platter), Ghunghru (bells), Kokatha Murchang (a stringed instrument played with a bow with bells) are very popular in folk dramas like Jagarata, Bhagat and Kariyala etc. The folk singers of the Chamba valley known as Ghurai sing to the accompaniment of cymbals.
Wind Instruments: Rana Singha, Karnal, Turhi and Flute or Bishudi, Algoja (twin flutes), Shehnai or Peepni are popular wind instruments. Rana Singha, Shehnai and Bin are usually played at wedding and on the beginning of any auspicious occasions. At the time of ritual at the temples, Rana Singha, Karnal, Conch shells and Shehnai are played. These instruments accompany the processions of Gods at festivals.
String Instruments: Ektara, Kindari Davatra, Gramyang or Rabab, Sarnagi,
Jumang and Ruman are some stringed instruments, commonly used by
professional singers. Gramyang, Rumals, Jumang are tribal instruments of
the Lahaul and Kinnaur areas.