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Kesariya Baalam

January 31, 2012

Meaning and Context:

A song arises from the wide marble courtyards of ancient havelis, from their intricately carved jharokhas, from the cool multi-stepped bawdis, from the hot sand dunes… a song arises from the heart of Rajasthan… this is that song. I belong to the region myself and, to me, the beauty of this song is indescribable. This song is Rajasthan.

It is said to have been originally composed by the Manganiyar community of the Thar Desert. The community has been prolific in its production of vibrant folk music that chronicles the life of desert. Accompanied by the Dholak drums, the fiddle called Kamaycha and the symbols called Khadtal, the Manganiyars have performed their music on festive occasions, village gatherings, weddings, or for aristocratic patrons. The song was recently used in Nagesh Kukunoor’s critically acclaimed movie Dor. It has been beautifully reworked for the movie by Salim-Sulaiman, who have kept intact its original beauty of form and music.

The words of the song are breathtakingly beautiful. The word kesariya comes from the hindi word kesar which means saffron. Saffron is a spice considered most auspicious among Hindus. With a delectable flavour and smell, it finds use in their religious rituals as well as their food. The colour of kesar is a very dark shade of brown, almost resembling the dark skin of Rajasthani men. The girl is calling out to her lover who is like saffron, in not just the shade of skin but also in being so auspicious in her life. He is her kesariya balam and she is welcoming him home. This is my interpretation.

Readers of the blog shared the original context behind the song (which may not necessarily be exclusive of the above interpretation). Rajputs wore saffron coloured turbans and so the kesariya baalam is the Rajput man. The song is also said to be related to the famed love story of Dhola-Maru.

The song goes on to say that she feels as if she is stuck to her lover’s heart like a gem stone in a pendant- sajan hiye jadit. She sees him everywhere, even in her chunri (wrap to cover the head) and she loves to look at him every second of the day- aney vanchu ghadee ghadee re…

Padharo ni mhare des re…. padharo ni mhare des….

Link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34lQoNckOxU

Lyrics to the song:

Kesariya baalam aao ni
Padharo ni mhare des re

Sajan sajan mai karu
Aney sajan hiye jadit
Sajan lakhu hamre chundley
Aney vanchu ghadee ghadee re

Line by line translation:

My saffron love, come
Please come to my land

I call you my love
I am attached to your heart
I keep you in my wraps
And look at you all the time

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From → Des

10 Comments
  1. SUBRAMANYAM B permalink

    The meaning & context have been nicely written. I had been looking for just this information of this beautiful song……..

  2. Jatinder permalink

    couldn’t have been explained more beautifully.

  3. Khamma ghani,

    In Rajasthan formerly known as “Rajputana”, tribes wear different colours of turban Safa. Kesariya or saffron symbolizes sacrifice, bravery, purity and only wear by Rajputs in Rajasthan. No other caste in Rajasthan wear kesariya turban. Kesariya balam is a reference to “Rajput man” and Rajput boys are called “banna” out of respect.
    Many rajasthani folk songs have references/dedicated to Rajputs including “Ghumar, Kesariya Balam Ao Ni” etc.

    Kesariya Balam means “Rajput man”

    • Thank you for this information, sir! I will include it in the introduction.

  4. Also This movie “Dor” is a story of Rajput girl, Meera, one of the two protagonists. Coming from an orthodox Rajput family, she has to descend into a life devoid of joy. Really awesome movie.

  5. नैना मीठी कामरी
    (सुंदर आँखो वाली कामिनी)
    रन मीठी तलवार
    (और युध में प्रिय तलवार..)
    पधारो म्हारे देस, आओ म्हारे देस नि
    केसरिया बालम आओ नि पधारो म्हारे देस

  6. Aditya permalink

    Its not about Kesar… its about saffron colour which is belongs to Rajput of rajasthan(that time) and its related to Dhola Maru story. Please check wikepedia or some other links. Ita not about skin or Kesar(food Item). Its a deep Historical Story.

    • Point noted and included in the intro. Thank you for your contribution!

  7. Akanksha permalink

    Very beautiful done decription of the song ..made me yearn to read more but it ended soon 🙂

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