Musical tones of harvest

Musical tones of harvest

With the onset of monsoon, farmers are a busy lot. Their fields are set abuzz with many farm activities. In the State, the Halakki tribe also readies itself for the rains but in a musical form. In order to commemorate the season, they sing songs called Suggi Haadu.

Expressing their joy, people from the entire village gather around to watch Suggi Kunitha performed by fellow villagers, who are also called as suggi makkalu.

Earthen pots called gumtes are used to provide musical accompaniments to the songs. In fact, it is also said that Halakkis use instruments made out of animal skin for such performances. Rich prose and poetry mark suggi songs, which regale the villagers through the night.

The proceedings begin with the villagers worshipping Shiva Sharanas. They then perform a small puja for all the tools and implements used in farming. Next, the farmer makes donations to servants, poor villagers and fortune tellers. Decorating the ox and filling their barn with harvest brings abundant happiness to farmers during this season.

After performing the puja of the produce, farmers sing in praise of the rain gods, beseeching them to be generous. Halakkis pay obeisance to their revered god, Lord Shiva, through farming and cultivation, which is why this festival means so much more than just singing and dancing. During this time, they also perform Allamma Prabhu’s (a 12th century mystic saint) puja, who they  consider as the ‘intelligent linga’.

Dancing merrily to the beats of drums, villagers go around putting their wishes and aspirations in the form of songs. For many Halakkis, this ritual has become a tradition that has been carried out for ages. Songs like these aren’t only for merriment purposes. Since picking the harvest and sowing the seeds demand loads of effort from the farmers, singing such songs help relieve the stress.

As we gear up for yet another World Music Day today, it’s time we acknowledged local music and encouraged them to reach out to a wider audience.
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