Life rhythms with nature

Life rhythms with nature


No force ever draws and sustains a social system as much as empowered, creative and radical women who constitute it. This can be confidently claimed true in the context of Tulunadu, where maternal lineage and matriarchal influences on financial and cultural systems have long been in practice.

However, keeping the complex conventions aside, there are also a few aspects associated with the women of Tulunadu that define them. Among them are the sung narratives named Paad’dana that is composed and sung by women to keep themselves occupied, amused and as a prominent means of expression.

Tulunadu is distinguished by two major attributes — vigorous folklore and agriculture. Paad’dana is inalienably associated with both of these attributes. They are, in fact, a particular type of songs created and sung by the working classes of society. These songs are simple and they constitute verses of 3-4 lines each, but their length is flexible from 5-6 paragraphs to even 20-30. They are sung in dragged tones, which sometimes make them difficult to understand, but they turn out to be rather captivating when accompanied by a small, leather, drum-like instrument called the ‘thembare’. It is a smaller version of traditional drums and is comfortable for playing on the go. It produces a mild sound that complements the rhythm of the Paad’dana.

A noticeable trend in the area with regard to Paad’danas is the overtaking of the folklore by women of the working communities. There are generally two forms of Paad’danas – ones sung while they work in agricultural fields, and others sung during Bhoota Kola or other rituals like Aati Kalenja, Mankaali Kunitha, besides others. On all occasions, it is the women who sing Paad’danas, though it is said that men used to sing them in the past. But now, this folklore is a part of a maternal lineage!

A melodious labour

Paad’danas sung in the fields are culled from everyday life experiences of a woman and her feelings under hardships as well as happiness. Though these Paad’danas are incredibly simple in nature, they are accurate and enchanting. When Paad’danas are translated, it nevertheless, brings a smile on the face of a listener.

Women are seen singing these folk songs as they transplant crops on the field, harvest the crop or when they are cooking in a group. Here, they do not make use of the instrument.

However, another type of Paad’danas that they sing is comparatively complex in content. It is generally the story of a specific bhoota (spirit) being worshipped, how the village has always revered it or how the tradition is being kept alive. One of those Paad’danas translates to say, “Here comes Mankaali, the sister of Baleendra to your door, she brings you goodwill with the good season so that the lights in your home remain lit, and your granaries remain filled.” These Paad’danas are sung by women who are generally the family members of the men embodying the spirit at the ritual. They usually sing these songs when they are either getting ready or taking a break from the ‘Darshana’ during the Bhootakolas.

It helps keep their mind relaxed in the midst of all the celebrations. In the case of Mankaali Kunita or Aati Kalenja, they are sung as the man performs the ritual — the songs serve as a rhythm to the dance. The women singing these songs generally occupy a prominent role and draw a great attraction in the ceremony. Regardless of whether or not they are singing for a ceremony, Paad’danas have kept the women of Tulunadu occupied and creative for centuries.

Most of them do not recall when or who created the songs, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the tradition is going strong, and even young girls learn these songs with enthusiasm.

Setting an example

Akki is one such artiste who has composed and sung Pad’danas. She has been singing for over six decades now. A number of experts who research on the traditions of Tulunadu commend Paad’danas to be amongst the most wonderful aspects of the region’s tradition, with so much meaning and social essence incorporated into it by such simple, yet strong women.

The stronghold of women over folklore including Paad’danas showcases how women nurture a tradition and sustain a system.

More so, the women themselves are a treasure on their own — as anyone who comprehends their lives and creativity would agree.

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