The values of life are changing rapidly on account of growing industrialization, yet the heritage of folk music and community wise singing and dancing are still integral elements of the vast tribal and rural inhabitants of Madhya Pradesh.
The folk songs of GondWana and Bundelkhafld comprising of the areas situated on the shores of river Narmada (Raisen, Jabalpur, Hoshangabad districts etc.) can be divided into four major groups: (I) Seasonal songs, (2) Songs for occasionS, (3) Special songs of castes and creeds, (4) OrdinarY songs. The seasonal songs are for all the seasons ‘Saire’ for rainy season in fast rhythm of six beats with accompaniment of dholek, timki, jhanjh etc. ‘AIha’ songs of vigorous sentiments by men and Sawani and Rachhre songs by women in Shravan, Songs of joy and festive moods for group singing and dancing in Autumn, Phaag and Swang for males and Phaag and Rasia for females in Spring can be mentioned with special reference. The songs for occasions include festivals such as Janmashtaml, Ram Navmi, etc., crop harvesting songs, devotional songs while going for pilgrimage to Narmada or places of religious importance, ‘Jas’ in praise of ‘Devimata’, ladies songs for occasions like marriage, bride’s arrival etc. The special songs for castes and creeds are also very interesting. Almost all castes have their ‘Cammat’ (Comic) songs, Gardeners, Fishermen, Milkmen, Washermefl, Cobbler, etc., have their special songs and tunes with distinctive styles of renderings. The ordinary songs of Bundelkhand can be sub-grouped in five categories: (I) Khyal—a crude presentation of the Bhajans of Soor, Tulsi, Meera etc. in classical style, (2) Naradi Bhajans in traditional devotional style, (3) Khaujri BhajanS of mostly philosophical themes, (4) Ramlata, a form of ‘Keertan’ singing while dancing and (5) Songs depicting episodes like ‘Dhola-Mam’, ‘Parmaal Saranga’ etc.
There are some more folk forms prevalent in Bundelkhafld Baghelkhafld, ‘Bilwari’ while harvesting is sung by two different groups simultaneously. ‘Setam’ sung by ladies forming a circle with a male drummer in the centre called Ojha, ‘Holi’ gives a picturesque description of the colour festival, ‘Achari’ in worship of the goddess, ‘Maihar depicting the blissful love of married couples, ‘Banna’ in praise of the bridegroom’& handsome gestures, ‘Badhava’S congratUlatolv song on the birth of Ram, Krishna etc. are some examples, Baghelkhafld is 6mous for its heroic achievements. The popular deity of the area is lardoul who received deep reverence in the folk music contents. According to Shyam Parmar, Poet lsuri of the region, contributed a number of four lined composition (Chaukaria Phag) which became part and parcel of the folk musical tradition of the region.
Malva and Nimar regions are also rich in folk music. In ‘Ganapati’ ladies invite Shri Ganesh, the savioUr, to accompany them to the persons who count, before the marriage, such as the priest, the goldsmith etc., ‘Rasia’ during the colour festival depicts the finer sentiments of ladies, ‘Garba’ a traditional folk song of Malva, with a very enchanting tune sung by ladies in groups moving from door to door, ‘Sanji’ a folk melody, in which ladies sing and worship before the images shaped by them on walls with cow dung, with a belief that Durga comes to her mother from Kailash. The ‘dirges’ of Nimar are full of pathos and the ‘Sati’ songs of Malva are haunted by melancholY Songs about Raja Bharthafl and devotional ‘Sakhies’ b~ Kabir have also become integral part of the folk music. ‘Lawafli’ style has come to Malva from Maharaslitra and is sung both in philosoPhical and erotic styles. The athvasiS of Malva and Nimar, special~Y Bhils sing and dance at an even tempo, always in group. The Banjara songs, the long narrative— ‘Heeda’ of the Gujars and Ahirs and other ballads of Malva have sustaining music. Kumar Gandharva, an 0utstanding vocalist of Madhya Pradesh has very successfully incorporated the folk musical modes of Malva in his unique rendering. The songs of the folk poet Sukhai of the Chambal ravines of Bhjnd and Murena districts are also very popular. The folk music of the entire tract has much similarity with the folk musical trends of Uttar Pradesh. The impact of Braj Music is clearly felt in Gwalior.
The tribal areas of Bastar, the land of the famous Muria and Maria tribes, have haunting melodies. Their dance songs and drumrhYthms are straight, delightful, impressive and very old in origin. They have ‘Relo’ and ‘Laja’ chorus which they sing together at any occasion. Verrier Elwin realized how music played an integral part in their life – ‘when the songs are sung, one party keeps the tune going and the other sings the words. One ploughs the tune, the other follows sowing the seed’. The Bhils, the Korkus, the Bhatra, the Pauka all have their own ritualistic songs, Chait Parab is for specific season and ‘Dhankul’ is associated with the invocation to the goddess DanteShwari.
The Chhattisgarh Region of Madhya Pradesh is a store house of innumerable folk musical styles of great simplicity. Group singing and dancing has made the people involve in group behavior also. Folk Music plays a dominant role in the normal life of the people, and even for every small rituals, there are folk songs in different tunes and rhythm. ‘Sohar’ is sung for the newly born child and for the mother’s health, ‘Bihaogeet’ are songs with the minutest details of the marriage ceremony, i.e., ‘Churmati’ (the ceremonial digging of land before marriage), ‘Mandwa’ (fixing a canopy for marriage), Haldi, Tol and Mahur functions; arrival of the marriage procession with the bridegroom, Madhoni, Parghoni, Gali, Bhanwar, Tikavani, Dahej and Bidai. The religious songs of Chhattisgarh can be classified as Bhejli, Mataseva, Sua, Jawara, Gaura, Raeet Naach, Phag, Panthi, Chherchhera Puni and traditional Bhajan. Dadria, Karmaa, Danda, Baans, Nachori and Phugdi songs are for mass entertainment; Chandeni, Pandwani and Dhola Maru are ballads describing legends from epics. Dewar songs and lorv (lullabies) also deserve mention. These forms of Chhattisgarhi folk music depict the day-to-day life of the people and reveal their past historical data blended in joy and sorrow.
Thus, like any folk music the folk music of Madhya Pradesh, in its multifold forms, successfully reveals the philosophical, psychological, melodical and rhythmical concepts on Man. This being the central province of India, it has faced throughout ages, a criss-cross culture and has obviously justified the ideals of integration. Parmar righty says that the folk musical styles of Madhya Pradesh have assumed highly emotional attachments to their linguistic jackets. The tribal music, legendary narratives, ceremonial songs, ballads, seasonal songs, work songs, songs linked with rituals, love-longing songs, occupational songs, etc., in cross cultural circumstances, varying from caste to caste and region to region, with deep devotional background of mythology have dealt with all phases of human life.