These Navratras, lets honor and recognize the DeviShakti in Uttarakhand’s women.
We’re all aware that Uttarakhand’s dance forms, folk songs and languages are under the danger of becoming extinct. However we can find some solace in the fact there are messiah’s in different parts of our State working towards protecting our culture. One such crusader is Padma Shri Basanti Bisht.
Born in the year 1953 in a village in the District of Chamoli, Basanti Bisht was married in her early teenage years and was a housewife for most of her married life. However unusual as this may sound, it is only in her 30s that she started training in singing. Her husband, who was a soldier in the Indian Army heard her sing at an occasion and encouraged her to take music lessons. By then she was a mother and was a little reluctant in taking lessons since most of the other students at such classes were children. Finally her daughter’s music teacher started giving her formal lessons and then there was no looking back.
Soon after, she started digging up old folk songs and collecting bits and pieces of the ancient folk art of Jagar. “Jagar” is a form of ancestor spirit worship practiced in the hills of Uttarakhand which was traditionally performed by men but this didn’t stop her. Basanti Bisht started collating songs at a time when there was no internet, no smart phones. Her only way to collect all the songs was the old school way- to ask the village elders.
Everything she sings has been orally passed on generation after generation. Of course now in 2018, we have all the means and resources to carry forward the remarkable exercise she took on. Basanti Bisht, an extra ordinary woman with an emotionally moving journey from a child bride married at the age of 12 to a Padma Shri award holder at the age of 63.
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