Covering an areal sprawl of about 342,000 sq km in north-west India, Rajasthan: formerly Rajputana, counts among the largest states of the country''s federal setup. Historically, it is a much-talked-about region for the unrivalled bravery of the Rajputs who, for centuries, fought against hordes after hordes of Muslim invaders, often with little cover, except their valour. Equally famed is this region for its strikingly rich cultural heritage -- articulated in its magnificent temples, forts, palaces, colourful traditions, festivals, folk dances, music, arts, handicrafts, and pomp and pageantry. For sure, Rajasthan''s very air breathes romance!
The erstwhile Rajput princes of the region liberally patronised the arts of dance and music: both classical and folk -- which the Rajasthani School of Painting, more specially its Raga-Ragini series, exhibits in ample measure. Together with its various modes of music, Rajasthan''s folk dances, like dandia, ghoomar, geendara or saharia, performed on various festivals, have lent a unique colour and liveliness to its folk-life. In fact, one cannot think of Rajasthan without the element of music in its folk life.
Rajasthan''s folk music has an extraordinary individuality, tradition and exotic flavour that sets it apart from its counterparts elsewhere in India. It has songs for every occasion, with rich emotional content, an inexhaustible variety of tunes, and a large number of musical instruments; besides various dance forms: a collective creation of the folk, retained by them in their traditional forms and character and passed on orally from one generation to another. Through a collection of 27 essays (including seven in Hindi language), written by leading specialists in their chosen areas, this volume tries to capture Rajasthan''s most representative folk dances, music and theatre-forms -- against their historical backdrop.
Supported by over eighty plates: in both colour and b/w, the essays here fall into three thematic parts. Part 1 gives a comprehensive introduction to some of the popular folk dances of India, Part 2 focusses on the folk dances and musical forms of Rajasthan, and Part 3 examines the Rajasthani folk theatre-forms, like khyal and tamasha. The book commemorates the fiftieth year of the formation of Rajasthan and is dedicated to the known and unknown musicians of the state.
The volume editor, Dr Chandramani Singh is a well-known art historian, museologists and author, currently Director, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, Rajasthan.