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D for dayro

This evening, enjoy Gujarati folktales, Kathiawadi songs and colloquial jokes at an event in Malad

“You must have heard the Shiva chant, Om Namah Shivay, but do you know how we chant in the Charani dialect?” asks 45-year-old artiste Kishoredan Gadhvi, a member of the Charan community of Gujarat, known for its literature and poetry. Gadhvi doles out a fast-paced rhythmic verse, and while the words can’t be deciphered, the foot-tapping rhyme is music to the ears. This evening, Gadhvi, along with three artistes — Kamlesh Barot, Harsha Barot and Nirav Barot — will enthrall city crowds at the ongoing Malad Festival with a three-hour performance. The quartet is a part of the Rang Kasumbal Dayro group. “Earlier, such performances were done in front of the kings. If it was held in the day, it was known as a mehfil, and if it was during nighttime, we called it the dayro,” he shares.

A typical Gujarati dayro setting
A typical Gujarati dayro setting

A to Z of dayro
Originating in Saurashtra, a dayro is traditionally a community gathering, where raconteurs narrate folktales interspersed with duha chhand (couplets), croon popular folk songs, add joke sets and present a night of entertainment. “Earlier, especially in Gujarat, a dayro would usually begin by 11 pm and go on till 6 am,” says 36-year-old Kamlesh Barot, who has been a part of many gatherings in Mumbai since he was seven. “The first song I sang at a dayro was Mor Bani Thanghat Kare, penned by the noted Gujarati poet, Jhaverchand Meghani. Even today, many of the songs that we perform at a dayro are his.” From bhajans and kirtans to the well-known Sanedo — comprising four-line couplets — as well as original compositions, the group will present a range of songs this evening. Tales on goddesses Durga and Kali and those woven around wedding customs are also part of the line-up.

However, unlike a stage performance with a large orchestra, a dayro includes a more primitive, intimate setting where raconteurs sit on mattresses, along with harmonium, tabla and dholak. “Expect the same ambience at our performance. We will present the dayro in Kathiawadi and Gujarati language,” shares Barot.

Roping ’em young
The youngest member of the group is 18-year-old Nirav Barot. When we ask if he is familiar with the language, Kamlesh Barot replies, “Yes, he is my nephew. I have been teaching him songs in our dialect since he was a child.

Kamlesh Barot in a musical performance
Kamlesh Barot in a musical performance

Today, barely four to five singers exist — like Chetan Gadhvi or Praful Jethwa — who present a dayro in Kathiawadi dialect in Mumbai.”

An artiste in Kaavad recitalAn artiste in Kaavad recital

Once a mainstay at weddings and festivals, the popularity of the traditional dayro had dwindled over the years in Mumbai. “Not many people host dayro parties, and several artistes have moved to Gujarat, where the form is still popular. However, this year, we’ve been seeing a slow revival, especially in the wedding season. Maybe, people are keen to introduce the younger crowds to a dayro, considering it is part of Gujarati heritage,” observes Barot. Interestingly, those who are not well versed with Gujarati can also enjoy the performance. “You can request for a Hindi song, and we will sing that too,” he assures.

The other storytellers

Burra Katha
Native to villages of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the folk style of storytelling in Telugu comprises prayers, drama, dances and songs. The artistes perform using a stringed musical instrument with a hollow shell resembling a human skull (burra).

Villu Pattu
Interspersing music with storytelling, the ancient art is native to South Kerala and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The artistes use a bow (villu) as a primary musical instrument for the performance.

Kaavad
Known as the mobile temples of Rajasthan, Kaavads are portable wooden boxes comprising a series of painted panels depicting mythological epics. These are recited by wandering priests known as Kavadia Bhatt.

On: Today, 7 pm onwards 
At: Goraswadi ground, behind Milap PVR cinema, off SV Road, Adarsh, Malad (W).
Entry: Free

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