Folk Songs of Himachal Pradesh

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Folk Songs of Himachal Pradesh

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.Folk Songs of Himachal Pradesh

Folk songs may be associated with history , religion , culture , customary life et al. But most of the songs sung in Himachal Pradesh are associated with love ballad, heroic ballad , praise of God seasons ballads and social recreation .These songs can be sung solo or in a group of many. This shows that how rich is the culture of a place has.

Himachali Folk Songs

The Himachal folk music is the greatest solace to the poor people living in the remote areas. The Junju Sukrat Bhunkh and Roopshu songs echo through the Chamba valley. The Mohna of Bilaspur, the Jhoori of Sirmaur, the Laman of Kullu, Gangi, Tappe are commonly sung as love songs. Dholru is a seasonal song. Bare-Haren is ballad about warriors. Soohadiyan are songs sung at Childbirth. Losi and Pakkahad and Suhaag songs are all family songs. Karak are songs of praise in honor of the deities and Alhaini is a song of mourning. All these songs follow a specific style of singing and the geographical facts have a deep effect on these. The songs are sung in harmony and the singer decides the way the notes and syllables are to be pronounced. They make changes in lines and substitute or replace words. No matter what it is, the folk songs of Himachal Pradesh ultimately come out from the core of the heart of these simple people.

Folk songs of Chambal :- Fulmu Ranjhu , Kunju Chanchlo , Raja Gaddan, Bhukku Gaddi , lacchi , Nuala , Aenchliya , Suhi Geet , Sukraat , Kunjadi

Folk Songs of Kangra :- Hari Singh Raajeya, Nurpure Diye Khatretiye , Suliya Tangoi gayi meri jaan , Prithvi Singh Inderdeyi , Pind Deya Lambda , Sithniya , Ghodi .

Folk Songs of Mandi :- Nirmanda Ri Brahmaniye, Mani Ram Patwaariya , Na Mansa O Hansa , Jiya Lal Bindiye , Panj Patra , Chhinj and Chhanjoti , Devku

Folk Songs of Bilaspur :- Mohna , Gangi , Gambhari , Baalo , Jhanjyoti

Folk Songs of Kullu , Shimla and Sirmaur :- Laman , Jhoori , Naati , Haar

Famous Folk Songs

Jhoori Song

It is a typical song of Himachal Pradesh and is sung with fun, joy and merriment. It is basically a theme of extra-marital romance. The word ‘Jhoori’ itself literally means lover, beloved or sweetheart. These folk songs are very popular in Mahasu and Sirmaur. Jhoori is accompanied by a folk dance form called Jhoomar and are entirely danced by women only. Though Jhoomar is danced only by the women folk, both men and women together sing Jhoori. The songs and dance are performed only in the open space and attracts lot of gathering as the people assemble together to enjoy the interesting subject.

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 songs.

Jhanjhoti Song

The Jhanjhoti songs are based on Ragas like Brindabani Sarang, Durga, Tilang and Desh. The Gidda songs are based on Raga Durga. The songs sung by professional singers have very attractive classical overtones. The famous love-lyrics in Himachal areas are Phulmu-Ranjhu, Kunju-Chanchalo and Raja-Gaddan. The Phulmu-Ranjhu lyric tells of a tragic episode. In Kunju-Chanchalo the song takes the form of a conversation between the lover and his sweetheart. The Raja-Gaddan song records the wooing of gaddan Nokhu by Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra.

Laman Song

Laman singing is popular in the Kullu valley. These songs are related with the romantic love between men and women. The first line is only for rhyming with the second and it is the second line which furthers the theme. Syllables like Oa, Aa form the ‘Tek’ or the note which is prolonged at the end of the line. These syllables help the singers to create a certain resonance and a definite rhythmic pattern.



The Samaskara 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 fervor by women who only belong to certain higher castes.


These are religious songs popularly sung with great gusto in the state. These songs are similar to ballads in essence. Though they are religious songs, they are sung centering a family that has recently been through marriage ceremony. The custom of singing Ainchali or Ainchaliyan of Himachal Pradesh in the house of the bride is common in farming society.

The singers comprising of males visit the house of the newly married couples and sing the Ainchaliyan songs. The subject matter usually centers 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.

Musical Instruments

The Musical instruments which are frequently used by the folk artists of Himachal Pradesh are Ranasinga, Drums, Karna, Turhi, Flute, Ektara, Kindari, Jhanjh, Manjara, Chimta, Ghariyal and Ghunghru.

Drums: This is one of the main instruments for the Himachalis. A variety of drums are played like Dhol, Dholku, Dolki, Nagara, Damama, Damanght, Nagarth, Gajju, Doru, Hudak and Dhaunsa. In the Kinnaur, Lahaul, Pangi, Sirmaur and Kullu areas, drums of different shapes and sizes are played at different festivals.

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.

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.

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