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The Songs of Desert

The Songs of Desert

Overview of the two books authored by Bharumal Amrani Sotahar on the folk songs of Thar Desert of Sindh

By Nasir Aijaz 

Very recently, two books, authored by Bharumal Amrani Sotahar, on the folk songs of Thar Desert, translated by him from his own Sindhi language books into Urdu, were launched at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi. The books have been published by Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo Translation Bureau of Sindh Culture Department. The author had invited me to the launching ceremony, which I couldn’t attend due to health reasons, but he was kind enough to send me the books from Tharparkar through courier at my home address in Karachi. The titles of books are ‘Geetoan Bhara Registan (Sahra Ke Geet) that would be ‘Melodious Desert’ (The Songs of Desert) if translated into English, and the other one is ‘Sahra Ke Dohay’ or the Couplets of the Desert.

Author Mr. BharumalI had acquaintance with Bharumal Amrani since long. I met him in a small village named Chelhar during my visits to Tharparkar district, however his introduction to me at that time was not as a writer but a social activist being affiliated to a non-government organization. About a decade back, he emerged as a folklorist and authored the books on folk literature of Thar Desert. I saw some of his books on folk literature of Thar Desert at Sindh Culture Department’s bookshop in Karachi. In a telephonic talk, he had told, “It took many years to conduct research and write books, as you know Thar Desert is spread over two hundred thousand square kilometers, and the Tharparkar district alone covers some 20, 000 square kilometers,” Bharumal had told adding that he focused on his home district as the culture and folk literature of entire Thar Desert is similar in nature.

Prose is the language of mind while the poems and songs are the language of heart, pouring out experience, longing, and rage, love, seeking to enlighten, to entertain, and to delight

The Thar Desert is a vast expanse of arid land located in the northwestern part of India and Sindh, the southeastern part of Pakistan. It is home to a rich and diverse culture that has been shaped by the harsh desert environment and the various communities that have inhabited the region for centuries. The culture of the Thar Desert is deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of the people dwelling here. These communities have developed a strong sense of identity and pride in their cultural heritage. Besides their traditional clothing, the people of the Thar Desert are also known for their rich musical and artistic traditions. Music and dance play a central role in the cultural life of the desert communities, with traditional folk songs and dances being passed down from generation to generation. These art forms are often used to celebrate important events, and milestones in the lives of the people, and are an integral part of their social and religious ceremonies.

Bharumal-books-Sindh-CourierLanguage also plays a crucial role in the culture of the Thar Desert. The region is home to a number of different dialects of Sindhi language, each one reflecting the diverse cultural makeup of the region. These dialects are an important part of the identity of the people who speak them, and are often used as a means of preserving and passing down their cultural heritage to future generations.

Despite the challenges posed by the harsh desert environment, the people of the Thar Desert have developed a rich and resilient culture that is deeply connected to the land and the natural world around them. Their traditions, customs, and languages are a testament to their strength and perseverance, and continue to be an important part of the cultural fabric of the region. As the Thar Desert continues to change and evolve, it is essential to recognize and celebrate the unique cultural heritage of the people.

Also read: Thar Desert’s Dhatki language among the endangered languages of India

The author in his books has elaborated these dialects, which according to him, are Sindhi Thari Dialect, Parkari Dialect and the Dhatki Dialect.

“Tharparkar is the confluence of Darawari and Rajputana civilizations. The history of language or dialects of this region is as old as the history of Tharparkar,” Bharumal writes describing this language as the ‘Language of Mohen Jo Daro’, which has developed by adopting the words from other languages with passage of time. “In present day dialects, spoken in Thar Desert, one can find the Sindhi and Darawari language words of ancient Mohen Jo Daro era to modern day languages, and now even the scientific terms are being absorbed,” he writes.

Thar Desert has a treasure of folk literature and the folk songs, being its integral part

Mr. Madad Ali Sindhi, Federal Education Minister in current caretaker setup of the country, who was then Project Director at Ibrahim Joyo Translation Bureau, writes in the introduction of the book, “The folk poetry or the songs are an important genre of the folk literature, as they are the direct and natural expression of the feelings and emotions of the indigenous people. The Thar Desert has a treasure of folk literature and the folk songs, being its integral part. For that reason, the Thar Desert is known as the Land of Folk Songs. The people of Thar Desert sing and dance to the tunes of folk songs to exhibit their inner feelings – the feelings and emotions of love and separation, the pains of miserable life during the prolonged droughts, a long wait of rainy season and bursting of clouds and the beginning of monsoon season when the rains turn the entire desert and sand hills in to lush and green region like Kashmir.”

Bharumal-books-Sindh-Courier-1The two books – Songs of Desert and the Couplets of Desert, are intense work of Bharumal, who has vividly researched and penned down the songs and couplets in detail, each one explaining its background. He has produced each song and couplet in Urdu script using the present day words of Sindhi and desert language so that the readers, who are not well-versed with Sindhi language or the dialects of desert, can understand it easily.

Also read: A Mosaic of Nature ……The Topography of Thar

While concluding, I must admit that despite being the son of soil, I was not conversant to Dhatki and other dialects of Thar Desert. However, after going through these two books, I realized the depth of the words that pour out of the hearts of desert people to express their joys and pains. It’s true to say that ‘Prose is the language of mind while the poems and songs are the language of heart, pouring out experience, longing, rage, love, seeking to enlighten, to entertain, and to delight.”


Nasir Aijaz, a senior journalist based in Karachi, is author of nine books on literature, language, history, and travelogue.                     






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