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‘Baithaki’ holi starts in Kumoan with hymns singing based on traditional ‘ragas’

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‘Baithaki’ holi starts in Kumoan with hymns singing based on traditional ‘ragas’

B.D. Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, Dec 18

The first phase of Holi, the festival of colours, that culminates in the month of March every year, began in Kumaon region from first Sunday of Hindu month of Paush,(17 December) as the spiritual singing of ‘Baithaki’(sitting) Holi started.

The ‘Baithaki’ Holi singing started in Champawat, Almora, Nainital, Ranikhet, Tanakpur, Haldwani, Pithoragarh and Bhawali towns of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.

“According to our tradition in Kumaon region, Holi singing at ‘Baithaks’ ( sittings), started with singing of Hymns of Lord Vishnu and his incarnations Lord Rama and Krishna as Holi is a Vaishnav festival of Sanatani Hindus,” said Dr Ashok Kumar Pant, patron of Manas group of Institutions and a cultural personality of Pithoragarh town. “While first three stages are singing Holi hymns in the sitting form, the singers start the fourth stage of singing while standing from the day of ‘Holastak’,” said Dr Pant.

“We sing spritual Holis from first Sunday of Hindu calendar month of ‘Paush till ‘Basant Panchami’ and from ‘Basant Panchami’ to ‘Shivratri’, hymns of good deeds of Lord Rama are presented and after ‘Mahashivratri’, till Holi day rhymes related to Lord Shiva are sung, while the ornamental and colourful Holi starts from ‘Ekadashi’ day,” said Navin Bisht, a Kumaoni poet and classic Holi singer in Almora.

According to Holi singers of Kumaon region, the festival of Holi is fully based on various classical ragas of Indian music tradition and the entire Holi hymns sung for almost three months are based on classical ‘Ragas’. “Our Holi singers use, various ragas like, ‘Rag Dhamar’, ‘Kafi’, ‘Jangla Kafi’, ‘Bhairavi’, ‘Bageswari’, ‘Sahana Vihag’, ‘Yaman’, ‘Khammaj’ and ‘Pilu’, sung during various stages of Holi celebrations during these three months time,” said Jagdish Punera, a traditional Holi singer in Pithoragarh.

“Holi singing in Kali Kumaon region is the oldest tradition of music in Kumoan, it started with advent of Chand kings in the region in the 10th century. Earlier, the elderly persons in villages used to keep the tradition of four stages of classical singing of Holi alive by participating in it, but now even the young generation is also taking interest in Holi singing,” said Raju Pant, a music teacher of Maa Sharade Sangeet Mahavidyalaya in Lohaghat sub-division of Champawat district.

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