Politician turns wedding song collector

June 12th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, June 12 (IANS) At 82, Choudhary Badan Singh, who is a five-time legislator from the Fatehpur Sikri constituency in Uttar Pradesh, is on a mission to collect folk songs of the Braj area. His anthology of wedding songs, “Braj ke Vyah Geet” is ready for release next week. Braj is the area within a 100-km radius of the Hindu pilgrim town of Mathura.

“My grassroots politics brought me face to face with the cultural richness and variety in folk songs and I decided to make it a mission to preserve them before they got lost to the rampaging film culture,” Badan Singh told IANS.

He was a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator but lost in the assembly poll last year. However, his effort to collect the songs of Braj started much earlier.

“Badan Singh has been at it since 2001 after being disillusioned with politics,” Adarsh Nandan Gupta, a culture critic here.

The anthology is a massive effort, covering different types of songs - 107 geets, 123 dholas and 282 dance numbers.

Badan Singh travelled all over the Braj area, carefully taking down folk songs from villagers. He collected more than 1,000 folk songs for different occasions.

The collection, however, has only wedding-related songs.

The poet in Badan Singh was inspired by the late Rajendra Raghvanshi, a noted theatre personality and journalist of Agra.

His son Jitendra Raghvanshi, who is national secretary of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), told IANS: “Songs sung by women during the marriage ceremony, or while welcoming people or while making puris, the ‘raat jaga’ (songs for the night), as also the ‘garis’ (abusive songs), are all therein the collection.”

Contemporary themes have also been included. One of the favourites is “Maiyya kar de Braj mein mero vyah, jaike Tajje dekhoongi” meaning “Oh mother, get me married in the Braj area. I will go and see the Taj Mahal”.

Badan Singh’s personality has also been a subject of admiration. At 82 all his teeth are intact, he lives a simple life, doesn’t sleep on the cot, and never uses soap or toothpaste!”

Perhaps that’s because he gets enough of soul food. “If you wish to remain healthy, sing songs!” he says.

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