Monday, May 5, 2008

Phool rahi sarson - The yellow mustard blooms

This qawwali is an all-time favorite. The Purbi lyrics and the raag bahar melody are both very refreshing. A scene of exciting preparation taking place near a blooming yellow mustard field one winter's day is expertly drawn in just a few lines.
The music builds up in-step with the poetry and reaches its crescendo at the exact moment when the devotees arrive at the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin holding colorful bouquets in hand. But one particular devotee cannot be there to make an offering and one finds that despite all the excitement of the music and the scenery the poem is but a poet's confession of a broken promise long overdue.

Interestingly, this is not Amir Khusro's kalam. Fareed Ayaz Qawwal credits the Purbi poem to the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and the composition to his court musician Ustad Tanras Khan. It still features Zafar's takhallus (pen name) "shokh rang" [1].

Munshi Raziuddin and Sons - phool rahi sarsoon - 1994 mehfil :

The Purbi lyrics and their translation [2]:

Sakal ban phool rahi sarson,
Umbva boray, tesu phulay,
Koyal bolay daar daar,
Aur gori karat singaar,
Malaniyan gadhwa lay aayin karson,

Tarah tarah kay phool lagaaye,
Lay gadhwa haathan mein aaye.
Nijamudin kay darwajay par,
Aawan keh gaey Shokh Rung,
Aur beet gaye barson.

The yellow mustard seeds bloom in every field,
Mango buds click open, flame of the forest trees blossom,
The koyal chirps from branch to branch,
And the fair maiden puts on her make-up,
The gardener-girls have brought bouquets,

With assorted flowers in arrangements,
Devotees arrive, bouquets in hand,
To Nizamuddin's doorstep,
But Shokh Rung, who had promised to come,
Hasn't turned up - its been many years.

[1] "Pak qawwal weaves magic," by Aditi Tandon. The Tribune, India.


[2] Lyrics and trans. adapted from:


Asifmamu said...

Experiencing the winter in rural UP, during the season when the mustard flower is in full bloom, allows a fuller appreciation of this composition. I was once in Jaunpur district-- this part of rural UP has a distinctly feminine beauty in its gentleness, a contrast to, say, the rugged handsomeness of the Pothwar region in Pakistan. It was cold, crisp and sunny. I would walk though the fields every morning to savour the flat, open countryside that seemed to go on forever. A strip of vivid yellow from the mustard flowers, with a carpet of green underneath, punctuated the vivid cloudless blue of the morning sky. One morning, some peacocks in the near distance broke into full dance and the riot of colour was breathtaking with the lush blues, yellow and greens of this scene. Quite spontaneously the phrases of this song and the tune of Raaga Bahaar filled the head…it seemed such an intimate echo of the fertile majesty of God’s creation. It takes rare genius to capture such beauty in the simple couplets of this poem.

Nauman Ahmed said...

Hello Asifmamu:

Great to see your blog. is no longer working and many of the embedded songs specialy Phool rahi sarson are no longer working. I will really appreciate if you update the links.


bohotkhoob said...

Hello Nauman,
Thanks for your comments. Mediamaster's demise has hindered our plans for this blog. We'll update the links and upload more sessions as soon as we find a decent hosting provider for our music.


twara said...

it is a beautiful rendition! thank you for the lyrics and their beautiful translation! keep up the gud work..

Ameya said...

lovely writeup for this fantastic quawwali. thanks for the translation, a few of the purbi words were not easy for me to understand and while I liked the song before, knowing all the words made it even more colorful.