Folk music of India

Folk music holds its unique place in India’s rich cultural diversity. Folk songs talk about relationships, the challenges encountered by people every day and philosophical questions about life. Let’s look at popular folk music genres from different parts of the country.

Lavani  The word derived from Lavanya meaning beautiful refers to the popular folk music which originated in Maharashtra. The dance that accompanies the music is known as Tamasha. Here is a famous lavani by Sulochana Chavan

Bhavageethe heard in Karnataka is poetry expressed in musical form. Here is a bhavageethe of the famous Kannada poet Kuvempu sung by actor Dr. Rajkumar.

Manganiar musicians are folk musicians from the Thar desert of Rajasthan. Their songs mostly praise kings and wealthy merchants under whose patronage their art has flourished over the centuries. Listen to this captivating music from the Indian desert. 

Kavadi Chindu are songs composed in praise of Lord Muruga by Annamalai Reddiar. They are sung when the kavadi is taken out by devotees of Muruga as a penance and offering to the Lord. The songs are sung in light classical ragas. Here is a popular piece rendered by Carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghunathan.

In a future blogpost we will look at some of the other folk music of India.


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About Chitra Srikrishna 50 Articles
Chitra Srikrishna is a Carnatic vocalist and writer living in Bengaluru & Columbus. Chitra blogs for Sruti, runs the podcast Raga Ruminations and produces RaagTime, a radio show on Indian music. Her albums include devotional poetry of Tamil Alwars & Dasa kritis, & thematic compositions on Rama and Hanuman. She's the musical half of a multimedia performance duo HumRaag. Her program BHAKTHI explores the journey of the mystics of India. Her latest Antah Prerna -A Musical Telling of an Entrepreneur's Journey debuted at Bangalore International Centre in 2018.