Uttarakhandi Folk Music – Keeping the Tradition Alive

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Uttarakhandi folk music is a centuries-old tradition that is still alive and well today. If you’re interested in keeping this tradition alive, there are a few things you can do. First, seek out Uttarakhandi folk music performances. Second, learn to play an instrument or two associated with the music. Third, support the work of folk musicians by attending their concerts and purchasing their recordings. By doing these things, you can help keep Uttarakhandi folk music


Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhumi, meaning “Land of the Gods”, is a beautiful state in the Northern part of India. It is blessed with natural beauty and is home to many ancient temples and pilgrimage sites. The state is also renowned for its folk music, which has been passed down from generation to generation.

Uttarakhandi folk music is a rich tapestry of ballads, love songs, religious songs, and wedding songs. The music is often accompanied by traditional instruments such as the dholak (a two-headed drum), the sarangi (a bowed string instrument), and the harmonium (a type of pump organ).

The folk music of Uttarakhand has been an important part of the state’s cultural heritage for centuries. It is said that the first Uttarakhandi folk song was sung by a shepherdess named Naina Devi while she was herding her flock in the mountains. The song was about her love for her homeland and her longing to return home.

Since then, Uttarakhandi folk music has evolved and been influenced by many different cultures. However, it still retains its originality and uniqueness. The folk music of Uttarakhand is a beautiful reflection of the state’s rich culture and traditions.

History of Uttarakhandi Folk Music

Uttarakhandi folk music has its roots in the ancient religious and cultural traditions of the region. The music is a reflection of the lifestyle and ethos of the people of Uttarakhand. It is an expression of their joys and sorrows, their hopes and aspirations. The folk music of Uttarakhand is an important part of the region’s heritage and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Traditional Instruments

The music of Uttarakhand is as diverse as its people. There are many different types of folk music, each with its own history and traditions. The most common instruments used in Uttarakhandi folk music are the dholak (a two-headed drum), the sarangi (a bowed string instrument), the harmonium (a type of pump organ), and the jhora (a large hand-held drum).

The dholak is a very versatile instrument and can be played solo or in a group. It is often used to provide accompaniment for other instruments, such as the sarangi or harmonium. The sarangi is a beautiful sounding instrument that is often used to play slow, melodic passages. The harmonium is an important part of many Uttarakhandi folk music ensembles and provides a steady drone against which the other instruments can play.

The jhora is a large hand-held drum that is usually played by two people. It has a very distinctive sound that can be heard from far away. The jhora is mainly used to provide rhythms for dances, but it can also be played solo.

Uttarakhandi folk music is more than just music; it is also a way of life. For centuries, folk music has been an important part of Uttarakhandi culture and tradition. Folk songs are passed down from generation to generation, and they often tell stories about the people, places, and events that shaped Uttarakhandi history.

Lyrics and Themes

Uttarakhandi folk music is rich in both lyrics and themes. The songs are often about the natural beauty of the region, as well as the daily lives and struggles of the people who live there. There are also many songs that are specifically about certain religious festivals or celebrations. Some of the most popular themes in Uttarakhandi folk music include:

-The majesty of the Himalayas
-The brave warriors of Uttarakhand
-The loving bond between a mother and child
-The joys and sorrows of everyday life
-The importance of religious festivals

Uttarakhandi folk music is often passed down from generation to generation, with each new singer adding their own personal touch to the songs. This means that the music is always evolving, and that it remains an important part of Uttarakhandi culture.

The Modern Revival of Uttarakhandi Folk Music

Uttarakhandi folk music is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with a new generation of musicians keeping the tradition alive. The music has always been a part of the region’s cultural heritage, but it was only in recent years that it gained mainstream popularity. Thanks to the internet and social media, Uttarakhandi folk music is now reaching a wider audience than ever before.

New Artists

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Uttarakhandi folk music, with new artists bringing the traditional sounds to a modern audience. These artists are keeping the tradition alive while also broadening its appeal to new listeners.

Uttarakhandi folk music is known for its emotional and spiritual qualities, as well as its connection to the land and its people. The music often tells stories of love, loss, and hope, and it touches on themes that are relevant to both the Uttarakhandi people and the wider world.

The new generation of Uttarakhandi folk musicians is bringing these traditional sounds to a new audience. By combining archaic instruments with modern production techniques, they are creating a sound that is both ancient and contemporary.

These artists are not only keeping the Uttarakhandi folk music tradition alive, but they are also expanding its reach. With their unique blend of old and new, they are attracting listeners from all over India and beyond.

New Instruments

In recent years, some Uttarakhandi folk artists have begun to experiment with new instruments, including the electric sitar, acoustic guitar, and tabla. This has helped to give the music a more modern sound while still keeping its traditional roots.

One of the most popular new instruments is the electric sitar, which has a rich, full sound that is perfect for Uttarakhandi folk music. The acoustic guitar is also becoming increasingly popular, as it can be used to create a wide range of sounds and rhythms. The tabla is another new addition to the Uttarakhandi folk music scene, and it provides a steady beat that helps to keep the music moving forward.

New Lyrics and Themes

Uttarakhandi folk music has seen a resurgence in recent years, with new lyrics and themes being added to the traditional repertoire. This has helped to keep the tradition alive and relevant to modern audiences.

One of the most popular new additions to Uttarakhandi folk music is the incorporation of environmental themes. These songs often carry messages of conservation and awareness, urging listeners to protect their natural surroundings.

Other popular themes include social issues such as women’s empowerment, casteism, and corruption. These songs help to give a voice to those who are often marginalized in society, and they bring attention to important issues that need to be addressed.

The resurgence of Uttarakhandi folk music is a welcome addition to the musical landscape of India. It is hoped that this trend will continue, and that more people will be exposed to this beautiful and unique form of music.


In conclusion, Uttarakhandi folk music is a vital part of the state’s cultural heritage. Despite the challenges it faces, the music continues to be an important part of life for many people in Uttarakhand. It is hoped that through initiatives such as the formation of the Uttarakhand Folk Music Society, the tradition will be kept alive and will continue to thrive in the years to come.

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