Each region in Rajasthan has its songs, music and every festival is an occasion for musical expression. It is not at all unusual in Rajasthan to see musicians, singers, performers and entertainers even by the street side.
There are songs created by the folk Bard in the past that still continue to be sung today like on the occasions of birth, death, naming ceremony, sacred thread ceremony, wedding and the changing seasons etc. The folk songs of Rajasthan capture every mood, love and separation, the joy of togetherness, the strong family ties and the simple joy and sorrows of every day life, heroism, honour, valour and chivalry.
There is a richness and diversity in Rajasthan music which comes from a long and comparatively undisturbed tradition, feudal patronage and from a culture that has imbibed the best from its neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. The voices of both males and females are strong and powerful. It is really a treat to hear a characteristic style of singing, Maand. The core melodv is a plaintive rendition of the state’s saga of love, sacrifice, duty and chivalry. The Maand singing marks ceremonial occasions and musical feasts.
There are songs that relate to the theme of love, separation and union with the beloved. The Peepli and Nihalde implore the loved one not to leave or return early. Songs sung during the festival season of Holi express the abundance of the spring season and expressions of inter-personal relationships. Beats of Chang and Dhaf whip up the romantic fervour of the Dhamal and Rasiya group of songs. Songs sung on the festivals of
Gangaur and Teej express conjugal love and happiness as Lord Shiva and Gauri are worshipped. Songs composed by saints like Meera Bai,
Kabir and Malook etc. are part of the folk repertoire. Children have their own songs which include Saajhi and Ghudla. There have always been various castes and communities of professional musicians whose only source of livelihood has been leading their life as minstrels. Many legends were created around heroic kings, beautiful queens and their sacrifices and folk heroes and every village has its group of Bard referred to as Charan and Bhat. The Bard (Heroic Poets) recounted the feats of legendary heroes or sung the glories of immortal ancestors. Each sovereign or feudal baron, each important family and each tribe patronized one. It was the duty of the Bard to preserve all the ancient traditions related to the origin of the race and keep the genealogical tree. Traditionally Charan and Bhat would compose songs to inspire the Rajput warriors with accounts of heroic deeds by whipping up patriotic fervour.
The Bhopa are the wandering balladeers who sing about the Marwar folk hero Pabuji using a Ravanhatta and their Phad paintings in telling of the tales. Another group of travelling singing minstrels are Jogis well known for narrating ballads of romance, valour, sacrifice and devotion like Nihalde Sultan and Shivaji Ka Byawala.
Traditionally, families would invite Bhat, Dholi, Nat and Bhand to sing and dance at family celebrations. Dholi with their simple drums and accompanied by the deep bass of their voices are a common sight at Rajasthan marriages.
The community of Langa and Manganiyar from western Rajasthan are known for their
distinct musical styles.