Gujrati Folk Music: What You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Gujarati folk music is a type of music that is often passed down from generation to generation. It is a form of music that is very important to the culture of Gujarat.

What is Gujrati Folk Music?

Gujarati folk music is the traditional music of the Gujarati people of India. It is often associated with Hindu religious traditions and can be heard at temples, weddings, and other special occasions. Gujarati folk music is characterized by its use of traditional instruments such as the dhol (a type of drum), shehnai (a type of oboe), and mansuri (a type of flute). The music is also known for its catchy rhythms and upbeat melodies.

The History of Gujrati Folk Music

Gujrati folk music has a long and complex history, dating back to the 12th century. Many different influences have shaped the music over the centuries, including Hindu and Muslim traditions. Gujrati folk music is often based on the storytelling tradition, and the stories are usually about love, loss, and other emotions. The music is usually very passionate and expressive.

The Early History of Gujrati Folk Music

Gujarati folk music has a long and rich history. The earliest known composers of Gujarati folk music were the Ravans, who were said to have composed the first Gujarati folk song, “Bapu Nu Jamva Chhe,” in the 12th century.

It is believed that Gujarati folk music evolved from a mix of Hindu and Islamic influences. Islamic rulers who ruled over Gujarat from the 13th to 16th centuries are said to have brought Persian and Arabic musical traditions to the region, which influenced Gujarati folk music.

In the 16th century, Gujarati poet-saints such as Narsinh Mehta and Mirabai popularized devotional songs called bhajans, which are still popular today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Gujarati merchant communities known as diasporas began to settle in East Africa, London, and other parts of Britain, taking Gujarati music with them.

During this time, new genres of Gujarati music emerged, including dindi and garba. Dindi is a form of devotional music that is commonly sung during Hindu festivals such as Navratri. Garba is a type of dance music that is often performed at weddings and other celebrations.

Gujarati folk music has also been influenced by Bollywood cinema. In the 20th century, many popular Bollywood films were set in Gujarat or featured Gujarat-themed stories, which helped to spread awareness of Gujarati culture and music outside of Gujarat.

The Modern History of Gujrati Folk Music

The history of Gujrati folk music is a long and complicated one. Gujrati folk music has its origins in the ancient religious and cultural traditions of the region. However, the modern history of Gujrati folk music is more closely linked to the political and social changes that have taken place in Gujarat over the past few centuries.

Gujarat is a state located in western India. It has a long coastline on the Arabian Sea, and its culture has been strongly influenced by both Hindu and Muslim traditions. Gujarati is the official language of Gujarat, and Gujarati folk music includes both Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The modern history of Gujrati folk music can be divided into three distinct periods: the pre-independence period, the post-independence period, and the contemporary period.

The pre-independence period covers the years up to 1947, when India gained independence from British rule. During this time, Gujarati folk music was deeply influenced by Hindu traditions. The most popular form of Gujarati folk music during this time was bhajan, which are devotional songs dedicated to Hindu deities. Other popular forms of Gujarati folk music included garba and dandiya raas, which are traditional dances performed during Hindu festivals.

The post-independence period began in 1947 with the partition of India into India and Pakistan. This event had a profound impact on Gujarati culture, as many Gujaratis were forced to leave their homes in Pakistan and migrate to India. During this time, there was a marked increase in religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. This led to a decline in popularity for bhajan and other forms of Hindu folk music, as many Muslims began to view them as being too closely linked to Hinduism. Instead, Muslim musicians began to experiment with incorporating elements of Western pop and rock music into traditional Gujarati folk forms such as dhamal and kafi. These new hybrid genres became extremely popular among young Gujaratis of all backgrounds, and they continue to be popular today.

The contemporary period covers the years from roughly 1990 onwards. This is a time when there has been a renewed interest in traditional forms of Gujarati folk music among all sections of society. One important development during this time has been the increasing popularity of Sufi music among Hindus and Muslims alike. Sufi music is a form of Islamic devotional music that incorporates elements from both Hinduism and Islam. It is seen as a symbol of unity between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat, and its popularity has grown rapidly in recent years. Another important development during this time has been the increasing prominence of women in Gujarati folk music. Traditionally, women have not played a major role in Gujarati folklore; however, in recent years there have been an increasing number of women musicians who are gaining recognition for their talents.

The Styles of Gujrati Folk Music

Though there are many different types of Gujrati folk music, the two most prevalent styles are thaat and garba. Thaat involves slow, melodic singing and is often used for religious purposes, while garba is a faster, more upbeat style that is often played at festivals and other celebratory occasions.


Garba is a Gujarati folk dance originating from the state of Gujarat in India. The Garba dance is often performed during the Navratri festival, a nine-night celebration honoring the goddess Durga. The word “garba” comes from the Sanskrit root “garbha,” meaning “womb” or “embryo.” This is said to represent the pregnant state of Durga, the mother of all goddesses.

The Garba dance is performed in a circle around a central object, typically an oil lamp or image of a deity. Participants join hands and circle clockwise, moving their feet and shoulders in sync with the music. As the tempo increases, dancers break off into pairs and perform solo dances in the center of the circle.

Garba music is traditionally performed on dholak drums and wind instruments like shehnai and pungi. Modern renditions often incorporate electronic instruments as well. The lyrics of Garba songs are mostly devotional, expressing love and admiration for Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, and Shiva.


Dandiya is a Gujarati folk dance that is typically performed during the festival of Navratri. Men and women dress in traditional Gujarati attire, which includes brightly colored suits and skirts, and dance together in pairs. The dance is based on the story of Lord Krishna and his wife Radha, and is often accompanied by traditional Gujarati music.

The Instruments of Gujrati Folk Music

The folk music of Gujarat is rich and varied, with a wide array of instruments being used. The most common instrument used is the dhap, a type of drum. Other popular instruments include the nagara, a type of trumpet, and the sitar.

The Dhol

The dhol is a double-sided barrel drum played with sticks. It is central to all Gujrati music, whether it be folk, devotional, or modern. The dhol is usually accompanied by the dholak, a smaller double-sided drum played with the hands, and the manjira, a pair of metal cymbals.

The Dholak

The dholak is a North Indian folk percussion instrument. It is usually played with two sticks, one in each hand. The dholak is a barrel-shaped drum with a skin stretched over each end. The skin on one end is thicker than the other, and this end is beaten with a stick while the thinner end is left open to produce a higher-pitched sound.

The dholak is used in a variety of North Indian folk music styles, including Bhangra, Sufi music, and Qawwali. It is also used in film music and Bollywood songs. The dholak has a very distinctive sound that can be recognized instantly in many popular Hindi songs.

The Manjira

The manjira is a small, hand-held percussion instrument used in Gujarati folk music. It consists of a pair of metal cymbals joined together with a central “tongue” or “ clapper”. The instrument is held in one hand and played by striking the two cymbals together. The manjira is used to keep time and add rhythmic interest to the music.

Gujarati folk music is traditionally performed by a group of musicians called a orchestra. The orchestra typically includes several vocalists, a few melodic instruments, and one or more percussionists. The manjira is usually played by the lead vocalist, who also serves as the conductor of the orchestra. In addition tokeepings time, the manjira adds an important element of sound to the music. When played correctly, it produces a bright, ringing tone that cuts through the other instruments and helps to carry the melody.

The manjira is an essential part of Gujarati folk music and adds a unique flavor to the sound of the orchestra. If you’re interested in learning more about this style of music, be sure to check out a performance by a local orchestra. You’re sure to enjoy the lively rhythms and beautiful melodies!

The Famous Gujrati Folk Musicians

Gujrati folk music is a popular form of music in the Gujarat region of India. It is often characterized by its use of traditional instruments, such as the dhol and tamboura, and its focus on vocal harmony. Gujrati folk music has been popularized by a number of famous musicians, such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Karsan Sagathia

Karsan Sagathia is a well-known folk singer from Gujarat, India. He is popular for his Garba and Sufi songs. He has sung for many films and albums, and has also received several awards for his work.

Tara Sutaria

Tara Sutaria is an Indian actress, singer and dancer who works in Hindi films. She made her acting debut with the film Student of the Year 2 (2019), for which she received mixed reviews. However, her performance in the film was praised by some critics. She will next be seen in the upcoming film Marjaavaan (2019) opposite Sidharth Malhotra.

Gujrati Folk Music in the modern world

Gujrati Folk Music is a style of music that is often underestimated in the current world. People often think that Gujrati Folk Music is only for a niche audience, however this is not the case. Gujrati Folk Music can be enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Gujrati Folk Music in Bollywood

Gujarati folk music has had a strong influence on Bollywood music. Some of the most popular Gujarati folk songs have been used in Hindi films and have become hits in their own right. Folk songs like “Halke halke bol kapta hai” and “Garba raas ni ghani” have been used in Bollywood films like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge respectively. These songs have not only become popular among Gujarati audiences but have also gained a wider appeal among Hindi film fans.

Gujarati folk music is also gaining popularity outside of India. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of Gujarati folk bands performing at shows and festivals around the world. These bands are not only popular among Gujarati audiences but are also attracting fans from other communities.

With its catchy tunes and festive lyrics, Gujarati folk music is sure to continue to be a popular part of Indian culture for many years to come.

Gujrati Folk Music in India

Gujarati folk music is a rich and varied musical tradition that has been passed down through the generations in the Gujarati-speaking regions of India. The music is often based on traditional folk tales and poems, and is typically accompanied by the dhol, a type of drum.

In recent years, Gujarati folk music has become increasingly popular in the mainstream music scene in India. A number of artists have emerged who are fusing traditional Gujarati folk music with modern styles to create a uniquely Indian sound.

One of the most popular Gujarati folk musicians in the country today is Jyotsna Hardikar. She has released a number of successful albums that have won her critical acclaim and a large following among Gujarati music fans.

Hardikar’s music is steeped in the traditions of her native Gujarat, but she incorporates elements of other genres such as pop, rock, and classical Indian music. This fusion of styles gives her music a truly unique sound that has won her many fans across India.

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