Symbols and Songs: A Symbolic Interpretation of Kajari Folksongs

Authors: Milan Chauhan, Swasti Mishra (IIT (BHU), India)
Speakers: Milan Chauhan
Strand: Oral Heritage
Session Type: General Session


Cultural art forms often symbolise the community’s attitude, religious beliefs, rituals and cultural norms across the countries. It is observed that the primary function of art forms is to express repressed thoughts and emotions. Kajari is one such folk song genre performed during the month of Sawan (The north Indian monsoon season that falls between July and August) in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Jain, 2014). This genre allows women to represent themselves and raise their voices against unequal treatment. Symbolic elements in the Kajari songs often reflect marginalised groups’ suppressed thoughts, challenges, and intimate desires. Therefore, while discussing the theory of symbolism, Susanne Langer mentioned that different art forms, especially music, are instrumental in expressing the inner or subjective life (Langer, 1993). Despite the recent progress in the proposed field, women’s voices continue to be subsided or repressed in the androcentric society (Jessal, 2012). The significance of the study lies in the fact that these songs provide them with a gender-segregated space and a latent symbolic form through which they convey their multifaceted issues. The present paper intends to investigate the nature, implication, types and culturally rooted-ness nature of symbols in these songs. Primary data (Kajari song) is collected through fieldwork, and fifty pieces are collected from two regions of Uttar Pradesh, e.g., Mirzapur and Ghazipur. Forty songs are selected for the study, and these songs are transcribed, translated (from Bhojpuri to English) and analysed using the content analysis method. After careful analysis, the observed data are categorised into the following four themes- (1) Cultural Symbols, (2) Natural Symbols, (3) Personal Symbols and (4) Religious Symbols. Our content analysis shows that the symbolic use of language in Kajri songs is a mechanism for its practitioners to inquire, express their inner-self, and represent their troubles in the androcentric society.

Keywords: Symbols, Kajari songs, Mechanism, Androcentric society, Representation.