Gidari women, decreasing lot in Kumaon
With many marriage functions taking place in the ongoing auspicious period, the demand for Gidari- women who sing traditional Maangal songs- has also increased.
While marriage venues, cooks, disc jockeys, marriage bands and Pandits are easy to find, it has become harder to find good Gidaris as their number has been dwindling in the Kumaon region.
Some fear that due to increasing commercialisation and market trends influencing native culture, the tradition of singing Maangal songs on such occasions might fade away in the future.
Traditionally, in Uttarakhand Maangal songs were song on various occasions including birth, namkaran, mundan, sacred thread ceremony and marriage but of late this practice has become confined mostly to marriage functions. Pushpa, who has been singing Maangal songs for about 20 years now, says that the number of Gidaris who sing Maangal songs has dwindled considerably.
The younger generation more influenced by other cultures is evidently not interested in learning how to sing the Maangal songs. Scholars point out that on auspicious occasions, the singers of Maangal songs are accorded as much respect as Brahmans because traditionally such works are not started without the singing of Maangal songs.
However, in these changing times, traditional songs sung on auspicious occasions have been replaced by pop music played by disc jockeys for people to dance to. Due to such changes in customs the singers of Maangal have been pushed to the background with there being no focus on the need to preserve such important aspects of the State’s culture.
The local women here also acknowledge that there has been a drastic change in the cultural practices.
Due to this, various aspects and the significance of native culture has diminished in society, which is a cause for major concern. They state that if the people forget their native tongue and culture, it won’t take long before the native identity is also lost.
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