Ballads of protest: Haryanvi artistes pen, sing songs for agitating farmers in roads – art and culture

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A corner of the farmers protest site at the Tikri border on the Haryana side reverberates each day with strains of folk music and songs whose lyrics tell tales of struggle and resistance.

A makeshift performance pavilion has come up in a small space on a blocked national highway where a group of Haryanvi singers are belting numbers to retain the spirit of protesters high.

For Ramdiya Kot, a native folk artiste from Hisar, crooning at the protest site has grow to be a routine affair for the final 10 days.

On Monday evening, he sang the old Haryanvi song “Kissan” written by Jaat Meher Singh, whom he counts as his inspiration.

As he took the stage under the printed white canopy, musicians played ‘gadhwa’ (earthen pots) with ‘patta’ (leather piece) and other local instruments. “Art and music plays a big role in any movement. We artistes from Haryana stand in solidarity with farmers. We are also children of farmers. We all are, they feed this country. And today, they’ve to sit down on dharna in their own country. The government will have to listen to them,” said Ramdiya, in his 40s.

As he performed on ground, a diary with songs handwritten lay on the mattress below, while a group of farmers smoked hookah in one corner and another group listened intently.

“Jaat Meher Singh, when he wrote songs against oppression by ‘zamindars’ (landlords), he also had presaged that sooner or later, farm lands would be taken absent by other exploiters. His lyrics inspire us and through our singing, we need to retain inspiring the protesting farmers,” he told PTI.

Farmers have been agitating at Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi-Haryana since November 26 in biting bloodless and these folk singers also hope the powerful words of the songs will warm up these peasants.

Pardeep Dalal, probably the most organisers of this road performance, said, the “Dalal Khap from Bahadurgarh tehsil of Jhajjhar district, to which we all belong to, has extended its beef up to the agitating farmers”.

“Artistes have been performing here since the beginning of protests. They take turns to sing. Sitting at one place, a human brain becomes stupid so they also entertain the farmers and enlighten people,” he said.

Amit and Joginder Kaushik brothers, in their 30s, have been performing at the Tikri border under the umbrella of Dalal Khap for the final several days.

“Art isn’t just for art’s sake, an art and an artist should feel the pulse of the nation and its people and articulate their pains too. We feel our art is a service to our farmers, to whom we owe our food,” said Amit Kaushik. At the Tikri border area, it used to be yet another day of protest since the agitation began. Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel kept a strict vigil as farmer leaders vociferously reiterated their demands of repealing of all of the new farm laws, alleging “it used to be to benefit the big corporate companies”.

Amid the milling crowd, many youth carried posters bearing images of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and chanted ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ to enthuse protesters in biting Delhi bloodless.

Mahendra Pandit, 37, a folk singer from Charkhi Dadri, sings songs of valour and patriotism at the protest site.

Singer Ramdiya said he used to be so “moved” by the protests that he wrote a song for the farmers, which talks approximately many modern issues, agri-crisis and even the Swaminathan Commission.

“We also sing songs written by THE mother of Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries,” he said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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