Kesariya Baalam – A rich, colourful, Marwari wedding in a Sikkimese winter

“Kesariya Baalam the to aao ni padharo mahre des” (केसरिया बालम थे तो आओ नी पधारो माहरे देस) [O beloved with the saffron coloured turban, I heartily welcome you to my country], is a folk-tune from Rajasthan based on Raag Maand. Part of the Indo-Pak composite culture of Hindustaani music, it is a song of the Thar desert and has been sung through centuries. The tune has been used in movies (Dor, in Lekin by Lata Mangeshkar with lyrics changed, the Oscar-winning Little Terrorist, and recently in 99.9FM by Zila Khan), in Classical Music albums (Ustad Zakir Hussein in the album ‘Music of the Deserts’), in TV soaps (Balika Vadhu), reality-singing shows (Raja Hasan in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Aishwarya in Chote Ustad), and sung by Singers from both Pakistan (Mehdi Hasan, Ustad Naseer-ud-din Saami) and India (Allah Jilai Bai, Manganiyars 1, 2, 3). As Siddhartha puts it, the Manganiyars are “a great example of Hindu-Islamic synthesis – practicing muslims who sing praise songs to Hindu gods!  And that is besides their musicality!”

In 2005-06, I made a painting with the same title

Painting by Naresh 'Padharo Mahre Des'

After my wedding on 8 December 2003, I had 10-hours of video footage. I’d imagined that I’d edit the video into a 10-minute or 30-minute version (where this song would find a prominent place). I haven’t yet gotten around to doing that (as of 7 Jun 2009), but found some time today to create 4 shorts 30-second music videos from my wedding photos  (archa-na-resh wedding) using an online tool. These 4 versions are based on 4 versions of Kesariaya Baalam sung by different singers. The copyright for the music resides with the respective owners (I’ve used what was available freely on youtube). The photos are mine.

Let me know which version you like the best.

Manganiyar version

[youtube _2wKXiQgWqs 600]

Instrumental Folk version

[youtube 7iT0nFF1lGI 600]

Raja Hasan version

[youtube 9iwqAORj1RA 600]

Lata Mangeshar version from Lekin

[youtube FT3CRJhpun0 600]