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Society cast(e)s shadow on songs

punjab Updated: Jun 10, 2013 09:28 IST
Manpreet Singh
Manpreet Singh
Hindustan Times
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Go to any marriage, or discotheque, or any celebration, the beats of Punjabi music force you to tap your feet in rhythm on dance floor. The credit goes to the beats, lyrics and the singers that have taken Punjabi music to the highest level of fame. This is, no doubt, a big achievement for Punjabi music, and I hope the fame grows. But am I the only one who feels these songs as biased?

Most Punjabi songs revolve around only the Jatt sub-group of Sikhs. We can easily find songs like 'Putt Jattan de', 'Gaddi eh shokeen Jatt di, 'Jatt di Pasand', so on and so forth, glorifying the sons, cars and antics of the Jatt. To begin with, songs mentioning castes are against the basic principle of Sikhism. All Sikh gurus instructed Sikhs to renounce the caste system. They wrote, 'Jaati ka garv na kar murakh gwaraa' (Don't associate pride with your caste).

Most of these songs portray the Jatt as uneducated, drunken, quarrelsome, and addicted to drugs. Do lyricists think about the impact of these songs? On the one hand these songs create a negative image of Jatts, and on the other they infuse a feeling of arrogance among youngsters. But the most dangerous impact appeared when SS Azad launched a music album called 'Ankhi putt Chamara de' (Chamars' proud sons).

Miss Pooja was rewarded with a flood of abuse on YouTube when she released the song 'Saare karlo eka, Begampura vasauna e', urging for unity to build Begampura, the "land without sorrow" envisioned in a poem by Guru Ravidass, the biggest Chamar hero. But nobody realised why Azad had to launch this music album, and why 'Saare karlo eka' was written.

Actually it was not a music album but a revolution, for recognition, equality; it's a revolution against discrimination. The presence of the word 'Chamar' in Sri Guru Granth Sahib has made them feel proud, motivating them to openly start calling themselves 'Chamar' or 'Ravidassia' instead of 'Dalit'. A 'Chamar' is a hero of their songs, is fearless, studious, loves carrying weapons, drives SUVs, goes to the gym and is proud of his identity. He is in no manner inferior to a Jatt man.

Others who sing such songs are Roop Lal Dhir, Kaler Kanth, Harbhajan Tajpuri, Pamma Sunarh and Rajni Thakarwal. Don't get surprised if tomorrow albums like 'Putt Khatrian de', 'Putt Ramgarhian de', 'Putt Sainian De', glorifying the 'sons' of Khatri and other castes, flood the market.

I don't blame these singers; it's just a reflection of our society. We are polarised in different castes; so are our songs. We raise much hue and cry when we have to face racism in foreign countries; but when our own people in our own country expect equality from us, we are least interested.

The tenth Sikh Guru said, 'Manas ki jaat sabhai ekai pehchanbo' (Recognise the human race as one). So let's pledge to treat everyone equally, forgetting region, religion, and caste, to indeed build an India that has unity in diversity.