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January 30, 2012

Meaning and Context:

Bumbro is a delightful little folk song from the valley of Kashmir.  The original composition is from the first Kashmiri opera ever written, Bombur ta Yemberzal (Bumblebee and Narcissus) (Source: Search Kashmir). It is a song so popular in the valley that grandmothers still sing it to the delight of their grandchildren. It was reworked and presented most beautifully in the movie Mission Kashmir a few years back.

In Kashmir, the night of Mehndi is a big affair. It is the night when, in a way to beautify the bride to be, mehndi (heena) is put on her hands. All the other women in the household also put mehndi and many songs are sung to praise the beauty of the bride. The song bumbro belongs to this occasion. It is calling out to the bumbro, Kashmiri for bumblebee, an insect that hovers over flowers of the valley, and thanking him for bringing all the beauty and colours of flowers with him.

The bumblebee is shyam coloured- the colour of Krishna. Krishna is depicted in various art forms as having a peculiar body colour. While some represent it with a shade of blue, some with a smoky grey, some with a dark black. The reason is that Krishna was born at midnight and so is said to have taken on the colour of the night. The word for evening in hindi is shyam, and since Krishna was evening coloured, he is also known as Shyam. Hence the word shyam is widely used in Indian poetry. It means the colour of Krishna, which in turn means the colour of one’s male lover.

So the reason for saying shyam coloured bumbro is that the bumbro seems to be coming from the garden of the groom, and has thus brought with him all his love and affection. Darker the colour of mehndi gets on the bride’s hand, the more the groom would love her- or so the saying goes.

It is a song of celebration, of love and of childlike innocence. It is a song of the beautiful Kashmiri people.

Link to the song:

The Song:

Bumbro bumbro, shyam rang bumbro
Aaye ho kis bagiya se tum?

Bhanwre, o shyam bhanwre, khushiyon ko saath laaye
Mehndi ki raat mein tum leke saugat aaye

Ho, kaajal ka rang laaye, nazrein utaarne ko
Baaghon se phool laaye, raste sanwaarne ko

Haan mehndi ki chhaon mein geet sunayein bumbro
Jhoome nachein saaz gaayein, jashn manayein bumbro

Khil khil ke laal hua mehndi ka rang aise
Gori hatheliyon pe khilte ho phool jaise

Yeh rang dhoop ka hai, yeh rang chhaon ka hai
Mehndi ka rang nahin, maa ki duaaon ka hai

Is mehndi ka rang hai sachcha, baaki saare jhoote
Haathon se ab mehndi ka yeh rang kabhi na chhoote

Bumbro bumbro, shyam rang bumbro
Aaye ho kis bagiya se, oh oh tum?

Chanda ki paalki mein dil ki muraad layi
Jannat ka noor leke mehndi ki raat aayi

Rukh pe saheliyon ke, khwabon ki roshni hai
Sabne duaayein maangi, rab ne kabool ki hai

Yeh haathon mein mehndi hai ya shaam ki laali, bumbro
Chaand sitaare lekar aaye raat ki daali, bumbro

Bumbro bumbro, shyam rang bumbro
Aaye ho kis bagiya se, oh oh tum?

Line by line translation:

Bumblebee bumblebee, dark coloured bumblebee
What garden have you come from?

Dark bumblebees bring with them much happiness
On the night of Mehndi they came bearing gifts

They bring the colour of kohl to deflect evil
They bring garden flowers to spread on our way

Now they sing in the shade of Mehndi tree
They dance and prance and sing and make merry

The colour of Mehndi has come out so red
On your fair hands it seems flowers are blossoming

This is the colour of sun, this is the colour of shade
Not just the colour of Mehndi, this is the colour of mother’s prayers

This is the only true colour, rest all are fake
May this colour never come off your hands

Bumblebee bumblebee, dark coloured bumblebee
What garden have you come from?

It brought in the moon’s palanquin my heart’s wish
The night of Mehndi brought with it heavenly light

Now dreams shine on faces of bridesmaids
All prayers have been granted by God

Is this mehndi on my hands or this evening’s red glow?
The night has brought with it the moon and stars

Bumblebee bumblebee, dark coloured bumblebee
What garden have you come from?

One Comment

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  1. Shyam rang bhar do « Sounds of Silence

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