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The 5 Best Regional Songs In India You Probably Did Not Know About

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By Usha Rani Das:

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
– Victor Hugo

True, indeed. That is exactly what I am facing right now. Being a keen researcher and an ardent fan of music, to write an article on the best five regional songs of India was like a Christmas party for me. During my entire span of research, which was more of a Google search and conversation with friends on music, I was overwhelmed by the melody of so many songs of varied ranges. India truly is a country with rich culture and arts. The songs of different regions of India emphasized on the richness and the colors of different cultures of our country. Even though the songs were in different languages, it does not deprive one who does not know the language from enjoying its true essence. You are bound to be swayed off your feet by the rhythm of music. It is justly said that music has no language and it transcends all boundaries.

Controlling my urgent urge to upload all the songs I heard, I am listing the five best Indian regional songs.

1. What better to start with than the band which is arguably India’s and West Bengal’s first band- Moheener Ghoraguli (translated as Moheen’s Horses)! It is a band which changed the musical history of India in a very notable way. This band brought rock fusion in the country. A group of musicians led by Gautam Chattopadhyay started this band in late 1974 in Kolkata. Little did they know that their songs will bring a social revolution in bengali music. Their lyrics were radically new unlike the commercial film songs popular in those days. Their songs were on topics like politics, poverty, injustice, revolution, love, loneliness, even begging and prostitution. Here is my most favorite song of the band- Tomay Dilam. Listen to the song and you are bound to be lost in another magical world. The blood in your body is sure to boil up and you will be inspired to pull up your socks and start a revolution!

2. Next let’s explore the enchanting music of Illaiyaraja, one of the most famous and the finest singer of all times. Illaiyaraja is sometimes debatably considered better than A.R. Rahman. I am sure all the people down south grew up with his music. But for those living in the north or east or west or are unfamiliar with his name – let me tell you he is a man who brought the essence of Mozart and Bach in Indian music. It will not be wrong to call him a legend of the musical world. He is considered to be a great music composer of the 80s and the 90s. The enormity of his compositions can seldom be described in words. In fact, there are not many contemporary artists in the world who can be compared with Raja. One can never have enough of Illaiyaraja. Here is one of his recent work-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwdrM4Vo7Mc

3. Before going into the next regional song, let me engage you all in a story first. It was 26th of January, I do not remember the year distinctly, our Republic Day, as we all know. I was watching the parade on Doordarshan. My favourite part of the parade is the magnificent performances of different states of the country. I heard a song- Hey Dola, Hey Dola. The impact of the song on my mind was so powerful that I instantly Googled the song. And hence I write about my third song, which is gifted to the world by the land of Assam. Sang by the multi-talented and a genius in his own, Bhupen Hazarika, this song spreads the message of humanity and universal brotherhood. The song is sure to leave a lasting impression on your minds on the very first try. Bhupen Hazarika was a musical maestro of India. There would have an everlasting void in our musical world had there not been his fulfilling gift of rhythm to the world’s music. Listen to the assamese song Hey Dola, Hey Dola and let the river of pure enlightening notes flood your soul.

4. Speaking about regional songs of India, one kind is sure to cross everybody’s minds. And if it misses someone’s, then Coke Studio has done the reminder. I am speaking about none other than Bhanwari Devi of Rajasthan who has enriched the culture of rajasthani folk songs. Initially she started by Phad narration (musical story telling). With the passage of time her voice started to echo throughout Rajasthan. Slowly she achieved accolades from all over the country. Queen of enchanting vocal capabilities, she is a highly acclaimed singer who brought a renewed sense of respect for Rajasthani folk songs. The powerful impact that the song has on one’s mind is inexplicable. The song has an everlasting impression on your mind. Here is one of her song which was popularized by Coke Studio-

5. Last but not the least; let me conclude with the song of someone whose compositions took Indian music to a whole other level. One wins Grammys for music. He was the one who won a Nobel Prize. He was the one who earned highly acclaimed respect for his songs, not only in India but from the whole world. His compositions like “Where the mind is without fear” and “Jodi tor daak shune keu na ashe” (this song was sang by Mr. Amitabh Bachan in the movie Kahani), still brings goosebumps in one’s body. The thrill of these terrific songs still inspires revolutions. One can never say enough about such a great man- Rabindranath Tagore. I am ending the article with my favourite rabindrasangeet, Sokhi Bhabona Kahare Bole. The song speaks about the nuances of love and the secret of true happiness. Let’s sacrifice ourselves to the melody of life and allow the magic to mystify us forever.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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