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The Beauty Of Sadri Music And Why We Must Encourage Its Transformation

“We have sung no songs about the martyrs who have fallen in their fight for justice only to be defamed as Maoists. No melody has been born that highlights the exploitation of tribal students at educational institutions, where knowledge should be free... Our songs must inspire and encourage revolution. It must become the voice of the helpless and the needy.”

People dancing during the Sarhul festival in Ranchi. Image source:

“An inevitability, the ears cannot ignore, and

A carrier of pleasures with its sacred tones,

No matter, who you are? Or where you belong,

Music is something which will always be -borne.”

Sadri is the ‘Lingua franca’ or the shared dialect among tribes living in the Chota Nagpur region. This language is spoken by people living in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, parts of West Bengal, Assam, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Like most Adivasi languages, Sadri is strengthened by its songs and music that burst forth in everyday life as well as on all important occasions.

The multiple aspects of Sadri music: As a unique language, songs in Sadri cast a charming spell on its listeners. Soothing tunes cascade out from the instruments carved from nature, and melodies arise from one’s sense of belonging with one’s surroundings. Sadri music carries a tempo and rhythm that makes one tap one’s foot subconsciously. We, the speakers of Sadri, hear messages of love in the lyrics. Love and romanticism is the foundation of Sadri songs and music. ‘Guiyas’ and ‘Bhaujis’ are the major muses that allow the creation of opportunities for men to woo their crushes. Our artists deserve appreciation and respect for their creativity over the many centuries of rhythm and tunes. They are contributing to our culture and music and keeping it dynamic.

Should Sadri music undergo a revolution? As our music evolves over time, it must reflect more than the romanticism of young love and heartbreaks. While the theme of love is eternal, so is our history of struggle and resilience. As a follower of Sadri music, I find that our lyrics do not acknowledge the pain and anguish of tribals in areas such as Bastar, Chhattisgarh. We have sung no songs about the martyrs who have fallen in their fight for justice only to be defamed as Maoists. No melody has been born that asserts the exploitation of tribal students at educational institutions, where knowledge should be free. No voice has risen for citizens suffering in Jaduguda, the uranium extracting suburb, where people suffer from birth deformities. Anthems which glorify our jungles and nature, with whom we claim to be in proximity, are few.

Our songs must inspire and encourage revolution. It should become the voice of the helpless and needy. Hymns which the world will hum and listen to, should yield from the depth of our roots.

Current challenges: Art is said to reflect life. As more Adivasis transform themselves to adapt to globalization, Sadri music has also evolved accordingly. Rock, Rap, hip-hop, and other genres of Western music have entered the domain of the Adivasis. This mingling of music and culture is inevitable and we should welcome these changes just as we welcome education and scientific advancement. However, we should maintain and uphold our authenticity by keeping the original sources of Adivasi music. The disc jockey mixture has crept in, and we expect a good mixture, not a creation which is too much to handle.

To keep Sadri music alive, there should be a way in which we can incorporate the training of children in traditional musical instruments such as the Mandar, Nagara, and Bansuri. Parents send their children to learn western musical instruments, and train their vocals. The questions I ask them is:

“Can we not invest in teaching our children how to play the traditional tribal instruments? Can we not invest in training our children to sing our native songs? Why can we not have Musical and Language schools to revive our culture?”

The world needs to know our unique attire, our dance forms, our instruments and our way of life.

With the internet at our disposal, advertising and marketing of music has become convenient. Our artists are already using it in every way, but we as an audience also need to partake actively. We have to support and let our music reach further. Organizing competitions and concerts for the growth of our music could conceive better outcomes. My dream is to see a club playing only Sadri music. I hope it comes to pass. A day will come when everyone will know the richness of our culture through our music.

About the author: Praveen Victor Horo is a poet and a writer. He is an English Literature graduate from St. Xavier's College Mumbai. He belongs to the Munda tribe.

* The image has been sourced from: //

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