For many centuries, the Dhol community that dwells on the banks of the Ganga from Uttarkashi to Haridwar has been singing traditional songs on the river Ganges. The songs capture the essence of the river and the changes that have taken place over the ages. As this treasure trove of songs is fast disappearing, a retired professor of Lady Irwin College in Delhi has started the process of recording and preserving the traditional songs.
Professor Anjali Capila believes that these songs can be used to spread mass awareness about the importance of the river and build an emotional connect. She is assisted by many Delhi and Uttarakhand based NGOs in this endeavour.
Capila said that she wants to capture the voice of people of Dhol community who have been singing songs on the Ganges for ages. Apart from stories related to their culture, the songs also depict their feelings on limiting the river flow through hydro-power dams and pollution of the holy river. Fearing that these momentous traditional songs might get lost into oblivion with the old generation, Capila started the marathon task of recording them to pen them in a book in Hindi with English translation and audio later on.
With rapt attention, Capila listens to a song sung by Utma Devi, a resident of Matli village, about how they would go quite early in the morning to collect water from the holy river in a pot to sprinkle it all over her house to purify it. And also how women would share their joys and sorrows with each other on the banks of the river.
Manoj Pandey, secretary, Himalaya Seva Sangh, part of the project said that they would encourage the school going children and youngsters to take forward this age-old tradition of songs on river Ganges and preserve it for future generation.