11 Folk Music Of India That Exhibits Our Musical Diversity

Every part of the country bares its soul to you with their music. The folk music of India, the music of the earth is craft of the indigenous and it is the most soulful thing you’d ever hear. The exotic melodies, the rare instruments, the words, simple yet true as life, is something travel every corner of the country for.

To all those who have a penchant for the plethora of folk music in India, here’s a list of some of the finest of them.

1. Bihugeet – Assam

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They have the sweetest melodies and heart touching lyrics of the daily life. They songs talk about life in the farmland, the picturesque rural Assam, their dreams, aspirations and of course, love. Bihugeeti is generally associated with the Bihu dance, performed by group of young girls and boys, dressed in their traditional attire, holding each other and swaying in unison.

Bihu beats are generally very groovy but in a very tranquil, unwinding manner. Makes you move your body even before you know it.


2. Lavani – Maharashtra

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The folk music from the western parts of the country essentially dance music played general to the foot tapping beats of the dholki. The songs are generally sung by women, and although the style is folk, there are a lot of classical elements which makes it all the more interesting.

Lavani songs are often used in theatrical performances with erotic or socio-politically charged lyrics. Over the years, the music has also had its influence over Indian pop music.


3. Baul – Bengal

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Baul is a word that is derived from the Sanskrit word, Batul that means divine inspired insanity. The lyrics are mostly full of philosophical metaphors while the melodies resonate through the open fields of rural Bengal, ebbing into the horizon.

With instruments such as Khamak, Ektara and Dotara, the Bauls, inspired by Hinduism as well as Sufism, sing their songs as they travel for a philosophical enlightenment.


4. Naatupura Paatu – Tamil Nadu

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A very interesting style of folk music, originating in Tamil Nadu, Naatapura Paatu is also played in parts of Rajasthan. The music consists of Gamathisai, which is the folk music of the village and Gana, the city folk music.

The songs are generally accompanied by traditional drums and Shehnai and they’re often accompanied by traditional dance performance.


5. Various traditional folk of Punjab

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The most popular folk music of India that has taken Bollywood by storm, and has even made it international. As you look past the commercial aspects, Punjabi is one of the most lively styles with effervescent, contagious energy that travels fast and blind but there’s a lot more to it than just Bhangra.

Folk romances of Punjab simply stirs your heart, especially  the ones with the narrative of Jugni, the innocent female butterfly who obverses various aspects of life.


6. Zeliang – Nagaland

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An in incredible primitive style of music, that talks about the history of Nagaland as well as romance in the lives of Zeliang tribe, the music has a primal essence that you instinctively relate to.

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Their lyrics range from, romance, stories of their ancestors to songs of harvest. The music is generally performed in groups and dance and dialogues in between.


7. Koli – Maharahtra

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This is the song of the fishermen. The songs talk about their life at sea, fishing. Koli music is dance based and hence, the music is essentially associated with their distinctive dance form. They’re mostly loud, lively and fast paced.

As the music is generally accompanied by dance, the moves often include the sway of hands as if rowing with an oar, signifying their life as fishermen.


8. Bhatiali – Bengal

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As Koli is for the fishermen of Maharashtra, Bhatiali is for the boatmen of Bengal. However, the lyrics and style of music is different and so is the philosophy. The subject matter of the music deals with Prakti-tatva or the matters of nature and the music is often restrained with flowing melodies.

The songs often leave you melancholic as they describe deep realizations of life by the boatmen during their lonely journeys, away from home.


9. Maand – Rajasthan

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Although a traditional folk singing style in Rajasthan, Maand is also recognized in the classical cycle. Quite interestingly, the soulful music with its expressive scales of the Sarangee, and the lyrics talking about the life in Rajasthan in their very own nuances, is neither regarded fully classical nor folk.

However, the music is a blessing for any lover of art and is one of the most enriched folk styles of the country.


10. Kajari – Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

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Another style of folk music with classical influences, Kajari is believed to have originated in Mirzapur. The music is known to be moony, melancholic, sung by women during long, lonely days of monsoon when their husbands have been away for too long.

Legend has it that young woman, Kajal, missed her husband so much during the monsoons that she cried at the feet of God and her cries, eventually formed into Kajari.


11. Dulpod – Goa

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Among various folk genres of Goa, Dulpod is probably the genre that expresses the true Goanese essence. The music carries the perfect sense of congruence between Indian and western culture and it is rhythmic, mostly anonymous and talks about the day to day lives of the Goanese people.

Generally, the Dulpod songs are composed on a six by eight count of the beat which makes the cadence refreshingly uplifting.

So, let the music flow.

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