TAAN SINGING IN GUYANA IS DYING:

Taan singing in Guyana is dying

May 5, 2016 | By | Filed Under Letters
 

Dear Editor,
Language is the foundation of culture for it is a crucial tool of cultural and group identity. Once a group loses its language, it loses its living medium of expression, its links to the past and to the future, and probably its ability to survive. The Indians of Guyana have had a glorious tradition of taan singing rooted in Bhojpuri, Hindi and Sanskrit languages.  Taan is an Indian folk singing style accompanied by theharmonium (pumped organ-like instrunent), dholak (two-faced hand drum), dhantal (steel rod percussion instrument), manjira (finger cymbals), and sometimes other instruments as well.  Hindus were the largest group of taan kalaakaar (artistes), but Muslims and even some Afro-Guyanese were well-respected taan kalaakaars.
As in Surinam and Trinidad, in Guyana, Bhojpuri, in particular, was commonly spoken and its rhythmic melody was infectious. Up to the time of independence and in the early 1970s, before Indians started to migrate in large numbers overseas, Bhojpuri was a well-spoken language and taan singing was perhaps the most popular cultural expression among Indians in Guyana.
Today, 50 years after our country’s independence Indians have lost Bhojpuri as a spoken language and taan singing is on life support. In neigbhouring Surinam, the smallest Indian child speaks fluent Bhoujpouri and taan singing known as baithak gana there, is extremely popular with multitude of outstanding young kalaakaars(artistes). In Trinidad, taan sing is also alive and well, although a genre of chatney music has a popular presencce.
As we embark upon “celebrations” of Guyana at 50 years, I pay homage to my relatives and others,  who purely on their love of culture, fought valiantly with their taan singing to hold on to their language, music, identity and heritage. Taan songs covers experiences of the human life cycle and includes ceremonial songs such as sohar (childbirth), mundan (hair shaving ceremony), vivah (wedding songs), antakarm(death), religious festivals (Holi/Phaagwa, Krishna janmasthmi, etc.), and most importantly, philosophical messages about the challenges and purpose of life.  Talking about the demise of taan singing in Guyana bring tears to many of the few remaining artistes and musicians; the agonizing pain of  witnessing the near disappearance of one’s own culture.
My great grandmother and her daughter Sumintra were unlettered, but outstanding taan artistes and I remember some folk songs from Uttar Pradesh they used to sing. My great grandmother used to dance in the Mandir while singing sohars to Lord Krishna and Lord Rama on their birthdays. As a boy, I regularly visited my Ajie Sunimtra at No. 59 village back-street.  As soon as I arrived in front of their small house on stilts, my Aja, the grand old man, noticing my dismount from my bicycle and, looking in the direction of Ajie under the house, he would call, ”maiyaaa dekho” (mother look).
When I respectfully greeted the dignified old man, he would say, ”Nanie Nana ka pakole” (what did your Nanie and Nana cook). He knew that I grew up with my maternal grand-parents and wanted me to partake of their food too. This, indeed, is another aspect of Indian culture that is on life-support. Under their small house were two hammocks made from dhaan (paddy) bags; my Ajie would lie in one and I in the other, and she would sing short versions of melodious taan tunes to me and I would be transported to places and times unknown.
Not too long ago, just before she died, I visited my Ajie Sumintra who was in her 90s and still living at her village. All three of my Puwahs (father sisters) were there and after some searching of her memory, she remembered me.  When I asked her to sing, she rendered (and I recorded it): ”ho preetam pyaare tu kahaa basatuu hai” (dear darling, where have you been), ”mohe nagariyaa batai jaa” (tell me in which in city have you gone); ”mohe dagariya batai jaa” (tell me, are you on the peak of the hill)… I feel so blessed to have had such experiences. I have gone to so many distant lands, places that my grandparents would never dream of, but whenever I hear taan, it takes me home, back to the village where my navel string is tied and where my idea of Indian culture was nurtured.
Guyana has produced countless taan singers and musicians. Some of the more recent big names include the legendary Tillack from Port Mourant, who was probably the most popular Indian singer in British Guiana in the 1940s-50s.  Others are Balgobinsingh Lalljee, Dasrath Mangru, Mohit Mangru, Kalush Budhu, Babolall, Roopan Kandool, Tailor Bisnauth Ramjattan from No. 47 village, Ramdass (from No. 58 village), Goonwah, James Babulall, Hari Das, Kishun Kissoon, Sudama, Ramroop (from No. 68 village) Vincent Morgan, etc.  Top dholak players were Ramdhani, Haribudhu (from No. 59 village), and Rudy Sasenarine among others.  Among legendary performers, the name Dashrat Mangru was very popular because he had an amazing vocal range.
A taan singer Shri Baboolall ji, composed and sang the story of the murder/sacrifice in Stanleytown, New Amsterdam in the 1950s, of a five-year-old girl named Lilawattie. Baboolall realized that nobody would document for future generations, the murder of baby Lilawattie and the pains of her mother, Dularie, so he documented it using the medium of taan. Interestingly, the story of the murder of baby Lilawattie emerged in a Kaieteur News article published on July 5, 2009 titled “The sacrificial murders” written by Michael Jordan.
Apparently, one Kathleen Fullerton, dreamt that a demon told her that there was Dutch gold buried in her backyard, but she can only get the gold if she sacrificed a child. A plan was hatched and baby Lilawattie was sacrificed.  As suspicion grew her body was dumped in a nearby latrine, but it was eventually recovered.  Baboolall ji’s taan composition, ”Lilawattie ki kahani” (the story of Lilawattie) opens with the line, ”ye rho rahie mata Dularie apni beti ke yaad mey” (the crying mother Dularie remembers her daughter), ”beti bechari margaye” (the murder of her poor daughter) ”….bhaaiyo aur bhahino arey jara tu souch chalo apna dil mey dulare ke ghar mey..” (brothers and sisters let us feel the pain in our hearts for what has happened in the house of Dularie) ”…are Hindu jaati ab say tu ghar jawoo..” (she is a Hindu and henceforth let us go and visit her house – offer solidarity). Babolall’s song dates the murder of baby Lilawattie to January 1950. It is time for bold initiatives to be taken to water and tend to the seeds of taan that has been planted in our country so that once again sweet and wholesome fruits in the form of taan kalaakaars would emerge.

Dr. Somdat Mahabir

Original Post

Taan Singing:

Taan is an Indian folk singing style accompanied by the harmonium (pumped organ-like instrunent), dholak (two-faced hand drum), dhantal (steel rod percussion instrument), manjira (finger cymbals), and sometimes other instruments as well. 
Hindus were the largest group of taan kalaakaar (artistes), but Muslims and even some Afro-Guyanese were well-respected taan kalaakaars.

 

Taan Singing:

Avinash Shukla
Avinash Shukla

I'm from India and from the same region from where ancestors of the most of the Indo-Trinidadians were made to migrate. Ancestors of Basdev Prasad belonged to my district. We still have this tradition of mixing lavas in weddings. Love this song not only because I can connect culturally but also because of amazing singing, dancing and video concept.
 
RIKKI JAI ENTERTAIN US WITH HIS MOR TOR:

MOR TOR MOR TOR LAWA MILAI SAKI LAWA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-lbinf_qSs
 
FUSION/TAAN:

LOOKING AT THE E-NETWORKS EMERGING VOICES:

DR VINDHIYA PERSAUD, JEFFREY IQBAL, PURNASH DURGAPRASAD, AND MUSICIANS> THE JOB THAT THESE PERSONS ARE DOING CERTAINLY DESERVES SOME KIND OF COMMENDATIONS.

ONCE AGAIN I KNOW AND CAN PINPOINT THREE SINGERS THAT WILL MAKE US PROUD WIN OR NOT, BUT THEY ARE VERY GOOD SINGERS:

DHARMENDRA GOBIN RAM
VISHALIE SOOKRAM 
ARTI SOOKHAI AND
GAIL ANN SINGH

asj posted:

LOOKING AT THE E-NETWORKS EMERGING VOICES:

DR VINDHIYA PERSAUD, JEFFREY IQBAL, PURNASH DURGAPRASAD, AND MUSICIANS> THE JOB THAT THESE PERSONS ARE DOING CERTAINLY DESERVES SOME KIND OF COMMENDATIONS.

ONCE AGAIN I KNOW AND CAN PINPOINT THREE SINGERS THAT WILL MAKE US PROUD WIN OR NOT, BUT THEY ARE VERY GOOD SINGERS:

DHARMENDRA GOBIN RAM
VISHALIE SOOKRAM  AND
ARTI SOOKHAI

Is taan music the same kind of music they play at weddings and religious functions on Sundays? Or is taan referred to anything that make use of the harmonium?

It is time to water and tend the seeds of taan

 
 

Dear Editor,

Language is the foundation of culture, for it is a crucial tool of cultural and group identity. Once a group loses its language, it loses its living medium of expression, its links to the past and to the future, and probably its ability to survive. The Indians of Guyana have had a glorious tradition of taan singing rooted in the Bhojpuri, Hindi and Sanskrit languages.  Taan is an Indian folk singing style accompanied by the harmonium (pumped organ-like instrument), dholak (two-faced hand drum), dhantal (steel rod percussion instrument), manjira (finger cymbals), and sometimes other instruments as well.  Hindus were the largest group of taan kalaakaar (artistes), but Muslims and even some Afro-Guyanese were well-respected taan kalaakaars. As in Suriname and Trinidad, in Guyana, Bhojpuri, in particular, was commonly spoken and its rhythmic melody was infectious.

Up to the time of independence and in the early 1970s, before Indians started to migrate in large numbers overseas, Bhojpuri was a well-spoken language and taan singing was perhaps the most popular cultural expression among Indians in Guyana. Today, 50 years after our country’s independence Indians have lost Bhojpuri as a spoken language and taan singing is on life support. In neighbouring Suriname, the smallest Indian child speaks fluent Bhojpuri and taan singing known as baithak gana there, is extremely popular with the multitude of outstanding young kalaakaars (artistes). In Trinidad, taan sing is also alive and well, although a genre of chutney music has a popular presence.

As we embark upon ‘celebrations’ of Guyana at 50 years, I pay homage to my relatives and others,  who purely on their love of culture, fought valiantly with their taan singing to hold on to their language, music, identity and heritage. Taan songs cover experiences of the human life cycle and include ceremonial songs such as sohar (childbirth), mundan (hair shaving ceremony), vivah (wedding songs), antakarm (death), religious festivals (Holi/Phaagwa, Krishna janmasthmi, etc), and most importantly, philosophical messages about the challenges and purpose of life.  Talking about the demise of taan singing in Guyana brings tears to many of the few remaining artistes and musicians; the agonizing pain of witnessing the near disappearance of one’s own culture.

My great grandmother and her daughter Sumintra were unlettered, but were outstanding taan artistes, and I remember some folk songs from Uttar Pradesh they used to sing. My great grandmother used to dance in the Mandir while singing sohars to Lord Krishna and Lord Rama on their birthdays. As a boy, I regularly visited my Ajie Sunimtra at No. 59 village back-street.  As soon as I arrived in front of their small house on stilts, my Aja, the grand old man, noticing me dismount from my bicycle and, looking in the direction of Ajie under the house, he would call, “maiyaaa dekho” (mother look). When I respectfully greeted the dignified old man, he would say, “Nanie Nana ka pakole” (what did your Nanie and Nana cook). He knew that I grew up with my maternal grandparents and wanted me to partake of their food too. This, indeed, is another aspect of Indian culture that is on life-support. Under their small house were two hammocks made from dhaan (paddy) bags; my Ajie would lie in one and I in the other, and she would sing short versions of melodious taan tunes to me and I would be transported to places and times unknown.

Not too long ago, just before she died, I visited my Ajie Sumintra who was in her 90s and still living at her village. All three of my Puwahs (father’s sisters) were there and after some searching of her memory, she remembered me.  When I asked her to sing, she rendered (and I recorded it): “ho preetam pyaare tu kahaa basatuu hai” (dear darling, where have you been), “mohe nagariyaa batai jaa” (tell me in which in city have you gone); “mohe dagariya batai jaa” (tell me, are you on the peak of the hill)… I feel so blessed to have had such experiences. I have gone to so many distant lands, places that my grandparents would never dream of, but whenever I hear taan, it takes me home, back to the village where my navel string is tied and where my idea of Indian culture was nurtured.

Guyana has produced countless taan singers and musicians. Some of the more recent big names include the legendary Tillack from Port Mourant, who was probably the most popular Indian singer in British Guiana in the 1940s-50s.  Others are Balgobinsingh Lalljee, Dasrath Mangru, Mohit Mangru, Kalush Budhu, Babolall, Roopan Kandool, Tailor Bisnauth Ramjattan from No. 47 village, Ramdass (from No. 58 village), Goonwah, James Babulall, Hari Das, Kishun Kissoon, Sudama, Ramroop (from No. 68 village) Vincent Morgan, etc.  Top dholak players were Ramdhani, Haribudhu (from No. 59 village), and Rudy Sasenarine among others.  Among legendary performers, the name Dashrat Mangru was very popular because he had an amazing vocal range.

A taan singer Shri Baboolall ji, composed and sang the story of the murder/sacrifice in Stanleytown, New Amsterdam in the 1950s, of a five-year-old girl named Lilawattie. Baboolall realized that nobody would document for future generations, the murder of baby Lilawattie and the pain of her mother, Dularie, so he documented it using the medium of taan. Interestingly, the story of the murder of baby Lilawattie emerged in a Kaieteur News article published on July 5, 2009 titled ‘The sacrificial murders’ written by Michael Jordan. Apparently, one Kathleen Fullerton, dreamt that a demon told her that there was Dutch gold buried in her backyard, but she could only get the gold if she sacrificed a child. A plan was hatched and baby Lilawattie was sacrificed.  As suspicion grew her body was dumped in a nearby latrine, but it was eventually recovered.  Baboolall ji’s taan composition, “Lilawattie ki kahani” (the story of Lilawattie) opens with the line, “ye rho rahie mata Dularie apni beti ke yaad mey” (the crying mother Dularie remembers her daughter), “beti bechari margaye” (the murder of her poor daughter) “….bhaaiyo aur bhahino arey jara tu souch chalo apna dil mey dulare ke ghar mey..” (brothers and sisters let us feel the pain in our hearts for what has happened in the house of Dularie) “…are Hindu jaati ab say tu ghar jawoo..” (she is a Hindu and henceforth let us go and visit her house – offer solidarity). Babolall’s song dates the murder of baby Lilawattie to January 1950.

It is time for bold initiatives to be taken to water and tend to the seeds of taan that have been planted in our country so that once again sweet and wholesome fruits in the form of taan kalaakaars would emerge. One of my favorite taan singers is Pandit Mohit Mangru. I use the term ‘Pandit’ here in the true Sanskrit sense to recognize his mastery of his art; not in the prevailing “lagu bhagu” sense, and also because Ustaad is not appropriate for Hindu artistes; it is for Muslim artistes. Pandit Mohit Mangru, a man of radiant brilliance, in one of his compositions added his personal signature to his teaching by inserting the line: “Mohit Mangru ka kahana maano, jaago sone waalo…” (Mohit Mangru urges us to wake up from our slumber) “…dharma tumhaara…” (as part of your Dharma) “….larki larko ko Hindi seekhao…” (girls and boys learn Hindi) “…are jaago sone walo…” (oh dare! wake up from your slumber).

Yours faithfully,

Somdat Mahabir

Guyana has produced countless taan singers and musicians. Some of the more recent big names include the legendary Tillack from Port Mourant, who was probably the most popular Indian singer in British Guiana in the 1940s-50s.  Others are Balgobinsingh Lalljee, Dasrath Mangru, Mohit Mangru, Kalush Budhu, Babolall, Roopan Kandool, Tailor Bisnauth Ramjattan from No. 47 village, Ramdass (from No. 58 village), Goonwah, James Babulall, Hari Das, Kishun Kissoon, Sudama, Ramroop (from No. 68 village) Vincent Morgan, etc.  Top dholak players were Ramdhani, Haribudhu (from No. 59 village), and Rudy Sasenarine among others.  Among legendary performers, the name Dashrat Mangru was very popular because he had an amazing vocal range.

VishMahabir posted:
asj posted:

LOOKING AT THE E-NETWORKS EMERGING VOICES:

DR VINDHIYA PERSAUD, JEFFREY IQBAL, PURNASH DURGAPRASAD, AND MUSICIANS> THE JOB THAT THESE PERSONS ARE DOING CERTAINLY DESERVES SOME KIND OF COMMENDATIONS.

ONCE AGAIN I KNOW AND CAN PINPOINT THREE SINGERS THAT WILL MAKE US PROUD WIN OR NOT, BUT THEY ARE VERY GOOD SINGERS:

DHARMENDRA GOBIN RAM
VISHALIE SOOKRAM  AND
ARTI SOOKHAI

Is taan music the same kind of music they play at weddings and religious functions on Sundays? Or is taan referred to anything that make use of the harmonium?

Vish, the above writer of the article on Taan, seems to be very knowledgeable in Taan: Somdat Mohabir maybe related to VishMohabir.

The above article will give you much knowledge on the topic of Taan Singing: as Somdat seems to know what he has written, love article like his......because it take us back to our forefathers, give us informations that was long forgotten.

Surely we all do remember Ramdeo Chaitoe with this one.

When I asked her to sing, she rendered (and I recorded it): “ho preetam pyaare tu kahaa basatuu hai” (dear darling, where have you been), “mohe nagariyaa batai jaa” (tell me in which in city have you gone); “mohe dagariya batai jaa” (tell me, are you on the peak of the hill)… I feel so blessed to have had such experiences.


RAMDEO CHAITOE:

PREETAM PYAARE TU KAHA BASATTU HAI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKnSAkNJtqc

asj posted:
VishMahabir posted:
asj posted:

LOOKING AT THE E-NETWORKS EMERGING VOICES:

DR VINDHIYA PERSAUD, JEFFREY IQBAL, PURNASH DURGAPRASAD, AND MUSICIANS> THE JOB THAT THESE PERSONS ARE DOING CERTAINLY DESERVES SOME KIND OF COMMENDATIONS.

ONCE AGAIN I KNOW AND CAN PINPOINT THREE SINGERS THAT WILL MAKE US PROUD WIN OR NOT, BUT THEY ARE VERY GOOD SINGERS:

DHARMENDRA GOBIN RAM
VISHALIE SOOKRAM  AND
ARTI SOOKHAI

Is taan music the same kind of music they play at weddings and religious functions on Sundays? Or is taan referred to anything that make use of the harmonium?

Vish, the above writer of the article on Taan, seems to be very knowledgeable in Taan: Somdat Mohabir maybe related to VishMohabir.

The above article will give you much knowledge on the topic of Taan Singing: as Somdat seems to know what he has written, love article like his......because it take us back to our forefathers, give us informations that was long forgotten.

Prashad posted:

We cannot make our culture die. We have to find a way to preserve it. We cannot become mimics of 16th century Englishman Pirate culture.

I totally agree with you Vish. Those that held the fort were giants in the field of taan singing, they have long gone. I do think that in Trinidad and Tobago, taan singing was replaced with something that we now called chutney.

Taan Singing - Jai Jag Janani

Here are the lyrics for my favorite taan. I have highlighted the various technical aspects of Taan singing, (Guyanese Style). Note The Trinis have a slight different variation, especially with the Relaa. They tend to slow it down whereas Guyanese and Surinamees would speed it up and bring it to crescendo.

0.  (Refrain):  (Vilambit lay,  slow tempo)           (ṛ ā ū ī)

Jai jag Jannanī Bhavānī, ho Rāma,  Bhavānī ho Rāma, achalā varadānī.  Jai jag Jannanī  Bhavānī.    (both, 2) 1.  Jai   (Jay)    jag    Jannanī    Bhavānī.        (2,  high)   Jai    jag   Jannanī    Bhavānī.       (1,  low)     (Refrain)

2.  Jagamagā   jagamagā;   jyoti  virājī,  jyoti  virājī. (2) Tej  pratāp,   nidhānī  ho  Rāma,    nidhānī   ho   Rāma, achalā varadānī.  Jai  jag Jannanī  Bhavānī.  (Refrain)

3.   Mahimā    agam;   apār   tumhāro,     apār   tumhāro.  (2)

(Madhya lay) Shesh Suresh, Jānī ho Rāma, O Jānī ho Rāma,  achalā   varadānī.  Jai  jag Jannanī  Bhavānī. (Refrain)

4.Dukh haranī sukh; sampatti bharanī, sampatti bharanī.(2)  Karanī   sakal,     kalayānī   ho  Rāma,     kalayānī  ho  Rāma,     achalā   varadānī.   Jai  jag Jannanī  Bhavānī. (Refrain)

5. (Drut lay) Aa..a..aym aa..a..aym aa..a..aym aa..a..aym. Jai  jag Jannanī  Bhavānī,  ho Rāma,  Bhavānī  ho Rāma, achalā   varadānī.   Jai  jag Jannanī  Bhavānī. Jai  jag  Jannanī  Bhavānī,  ho  Rāma. (3)

6. Jai jag Jannanī Bhavānī ho Rāma, Bhavānī ho Rāma (Relā, slow singing & dogun tāl - double speed rhythm)  . . .   achalā varadānī . . .   Jai jag Jannanī Bhavānī. . . Jai jag Jannanī Bhavānī, ho Rāma, Bhavānī ho Rāma, achalā   varadānī.    Jai   jag  Jannanī   Bhavānī !

Recorded in the heydays of taan singing in Guyana.
Top left: Mohit Mangru (Clarinet)
Top Center: Bharat Das (Mandolin)
Top Right: Dasrath Mangru

Bottom Left: James Babulal (Dhantaal)
Bottom Center: Pt. Sansodhan Lalbiharie from Nickerie, Suriname. (Harmonium)
Bottom Right: Babooram (Dholak)

Taan singing at the Caribbean Hindu Society in Brixton, London. Singer: Navin Ballakhan. Dholak: Andrew Sookhoo. Dhantal: Suresh Sookhoo and Devendra Deo. Sorry about the ending. Camera ran out of memory and cut off the last few seconds.

Taan Singing - Shrawan Sunat Sewari Uchadaiyee

 

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