Pir Panjal: Folk Songs and Folk Dances
Pir Panjal region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which spreads over the districts of Poonch and Rajouri, is one of a kind when we discuss its rich and dissimilar social heritage and colourful cultural life. Among the essential gradients of the unique
socio-cultural life is fabulous folk songs and beautiful folk dances.
Folk songs and folk dances of any region portray the lifestyle of its people, their tastes, traditions, costumes, rituals and the like. The Pir Panjal region has given birth to the various styles of singing and unique variety of dances.
Paharis, Gujjars and Bakarwals are the most critical segments of the cultural foundation of the region. The main ballads of the region are Noora, Sophia and Chann. Folk songs like Baisakhi, Cuckoo, Sahiban, Mehndi and Saif-ul-Malook are very famous among people. Moreover, Kashmiri songs like Wanawun, Chakri, and Punjabi Mahiya too echo in the mountains. People have their distinctive legends behind all these songs. Apart from these Kenichi is a love song of a Pahari belle.
Folk Dances in the district are generally connected with some function, a celebration or with the devotion of some god or goddess. Important folk dances of Poonch are Punjabi Bhangra with a local touch, Gojri dance, Letri, Keekli and Roff.
In performance, set pattern of clothes and songs, Dogri Bhangra is poles apart from the Punjabi Bhangra. These dances are performed on the fairs and festivals.
Gojri Naach is very illustrious of the Gujjar culture. It is generally performed on marriage ceremonies. It is a natural form of dance and delightful too. Male dancers dance in their customary costumes forming a line having sticks in their hands. Female dancers dance on the other side adjusting the pattern on the rhythm of Drum.
Gojri Naach is always performed together with a folk song. Letri is an agricultural festival. It is observed in harvesting season in autumn. Letri dance is done on the occasion of congregational grass harvesting in the autumn months. Musical instruments like Dhol (Drum) too are used.
Keekli involves no musical instruments. Only girls perform this dance. They catch hold of each other’s opposite hands and take turns in a balanced fashion. Roff and Chhakri are the unique dance forms which are performed by groups of women on the occasion of marriage and other similar functions.