Ever came across a person who remained unfazed by the peppy beats of Punjabi folk songs (Punjabi Lok Geet – ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੋਕ ਗੀਤ)? I, for sure, never have! For the most part, Punjabi folk music is foot-tapping and a notch above the rest! Let’s find out more about this in today’s post, as we’ll go over the Punjabi folk songs you need to hear and a few exciting bits about each. Let’s start!
Punjabi Folk Songs: Celebrating Life
Any folk music is a reflection of its land. Punjabi folk music, too, mirrors the earthy fragrance of the verdant mustard fields of Punjab, the serenity of its resplendent nature, the verve and vitality of its agro-based life, and the piousness of its spiritual traditions. These songs are the most engaging forms of storytelling, especially the stories of hard-working farm folks who live a simple life of duty and service while enjoying the tiniest joys of life.
Punjabis are the most fun-loving people who are big on dance and celebrations. Be it any good news – minor or major – men easily break into Bhangra (ਭੰਗੜਾ) on the Dhol (ਢੋਲ) beats while women gather together for unending rounds of Giddha (ਗਿੱਧਾ) matching steps with the beats of a Dholaki (ਢੋਲਕੀ). These celebrations span birth ceremonies, weddings, harvest festivals, change of seasons, social and religious festivals, etc.
Storytelling Through Punjabi Folk Songs
Folk songs, folk music, folk dance – all these are popular forms of storytelling, particularly folklore and ballads. The lyrics of the Punjabi songs talk of love, feelings, sorrow, beauty, valor, marriage, history, culture, and whatnot. There are songs sung about the martyrdom of the Sikh Gurus and warriors. Some lyrics convey the pain and agony of separation. Particular lines convey the deep philosophy of life in simple language that appeals to ordinary men and women.
What Are The Types Of Punjabi Folk Songs
#1 Wedding Folk Songs
Suhag (ਸੁਹਾਗ), Ghorian (ਘੋਰੀਅਨ), and Sehra (ਸੇਹਰਾ) are Punjabi songs sung during various wedding rituals as is the tradition across many regions and communities in the Indian subcontinent.
- Suhag: A Suhag is sung by the women in the bride’s family and neighborhood. These folk songs are often directed at the bride, telling her how life will change. Many of these are light-hearted, comic jibes at the institution of marriage, at her would-be husband and in-laws. These are mostly funny songs where the ladies gather to have some harmless fun at the expense of the groom’s family.
- Sehra and Ghorian: These are songs sung by the groom’s side, particularly his sisters when the groom wears a turban with a flowery veil (called Sehra) and then mounts the mare (Ghori – ਘੋੜੀ) to lead the wedding procession (Baaraat – ਬਰਾਤ). Ghorian is the plural form of the word mare. Women and girls feed black gram lentils to the mare and sing these folk songs wishing the groom a happy married life.
#2 Tappe (ਟੱਪੇ)
A Tappa (pl. Tappe) is believed to be a folk song sung mainly by camel riders in the Punjab-Sindh region of undivided India back in the day. It consists of three sentences sung in a loop where the first and the third sentence rhymes. Tappe originating from the Punjabi folk culture are usually light and frothy folk songs depicting lovers playfully arguing with each other or pulling each other’s legs.
#3 Boliyaan (ਬੋਲੀਆਂ)
Boliyaan are Punjabi couplets that are usually sung during festivals, wedding occasions, and family gatherings. They are generally accompanied by Giddha dance performed by girls and women. These folk songs are spontaneous expressions of a woman, singing about her innermost feelings, often in a funny or sarcastic style or throwing a jibe or two at the people in her life.
#4 Harvest/ Season Change Folk Songs
Lohri (ਲੋਹੜੀ) and Visakhi (ਵਿਸਾਖੀ) are Punjabi folk songs sung to welcome the change in season. Punjab is agricultural land and the people live very close to nature. These songs are a token of their deeply rooted association with their soil and its environment.
Lohri is a winter harvest festival that marks the passing of the winter solstice. A huge bonfire is lit and the whole community circles it while singing folk songs that are collectively called Lohri. Budding romance often features in their lyrics while also recounting the centuries-old folklore of Dulha Bhatti, a Robin Hoodisque figure who would help shunned girls get married respectfully to well-meaning men. Similarly, Visakhi are Punjabi songs that mark the advent of Vaisakh (ਵੈਸਾਖ) or the spring season.
#6 Love Songs
Heer (ਹੀਰ), Mirza (ਮਿਰਜ਼ਾ), Mahiya (ਮਾਹੀਆ), Jindya (ਜਿੰਦਾ), Dhola (ਢੋਲਾ), Kafiyan (ਕਾਫੀਆਂ) are all different types of Punjabi folk tunes that tell the tragic folktales of the star crossed lovers like Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi, Pannu, Mirza Sahiban in the land of Punjab.
All Time Great Punjabi Folk Songs
- Sundar Mundariye Tera Kaun Vichara (ਸੁੰਦਰ ਮੁੰਦਰੀਏ ਤੇਰਾ ਕੌਨ ਵਿਚਾਰਾ): This is the most popular Lohri song that is sung across the Punjabi community while circling the huge bonfire. It eulogizes the popular folk hero, Dulha Bhatti, who got a shunned Hindu girl married and conducted all the Hindu rituals to the best of his abilities despite being a Muslim man.
- Kothe Te Aa Maahiya (ਕੋਠੇ ਤੇ ਆ ਮਾਹੀਆ): This is an immensely popular Tappa wherein two lovers are having a light-hearted go at each other, pulling each other’s leg. The girl is chiding the boy for being unhygienic and not being up to her standard. The boy, wittily, side-steps all her jabs while still professing his love for her. The one by Indian Ghazal maestro, Late Jagjit Singh, and his wife Chitra Singh is one of its most popular Punjabi folk versions. You can check it out on YouTube here.
- Mera Laung Gawacha (ਮੇਰਾ ਲੌਂਗ ਗਵਾਚਾ): This is one of the most popular songs of the Punjabi wedding season and rightly so! It is a fun song where the damsel in distress is commanding the youth following her to keep as keen an eye on her lost nose pin (Laung – ਲੌਂਗ) as he is keeping it on her attractive gait.
- Latthe Di Chaadar (ਲਥੇ ਦੀ ਚਾਦਰ): In this Punjabi song, a newly-wed is pleading with her shawl-clad lover to not be angry with her anymore and spend some time with her. Latthe Di Chaadar is a shawl made of cotton yarn.
- Chitta Kukkar Banere Te (ਚਿਤਾ ਕੁੱਕੜ ਬਨੇਰੇ ਤੇ): Another Punjabi wedding song, here the bride’s friends are teasing her as well as blessing her to have a good married life.
- Kala Doriya (ਕਾਲਾ ਡੋਰੀਆ): It is a popular playful Punjabi song depicting a newlywed bride having a sarcastic go at all her in-laws after a fight. This song has been recorded by many singers but the most popular remains the one by Punjabi folk singer Surinder Kaur.
- Aaya Laadiye Ni (ਐਵੇ ਲਾਡੀਆਂ ਨੀ): Women of the house are singing to the bride how her groom has come to take her and how good fortune awaits her at her husband’s place.
- Nit Khair Mangaa Sohneya Main Teri (ਨਿਤ ਖੈਰ ਮੰਗਾ ਸੋਹਣਿਆ ਮੈਂ ਤੇਰੀ): The lover is telling his beloved how in his daily prayers he only prays for her well being and nothing else. A very popular version of this song is by the Late Ustad Nusrat Ali Khan, the most famous Qawwali singer of all time.
- Chuke Charkha Gali De Vich (ਚੁਕੇ ਚਰਖਾ ਗਲੀ ਦੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ): With a touch of Sufism, spirituality, and philosophy, this Punjabi song is all about catching a glimpse of one’s beloved. In popular parlance, the beloved here is God and the singer is directing their all-encompassing love towards Him.
- Bajre Da Sitta (ਬਾਜਰੇ ਦਾ ਸੀਤਾ): The farm woman is enticing (twisting) her lover to come back to her the same way she twists the millet cob to collect the millet kernels. Bajre Da Sitta literally means millet cob.
Learn Punjabi With The Ling App
Now that you have had a taste of the richness of Punjab, its culture, and folk music, it is time to dive further into its many other nuances. You can learn about many other aspects of Punjab and the Punjabi language with the Ling app. The best part? You can download the free Ling app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store and get started with your Punjab exploration now!