Bidesia

BIDESIA – A HEARTBREAKING SONG OF LONGING AND LAMENT…

BIDESIA WAS WIDELY SUNG DURING GIRMIT IN FIJI. IT IS A BHOJPURI FOLKSONG, SUNG WITH ECHOES OF SORROW, SADNESS AND LAMENT, MAINLY BY HINDU MIGRANTS FROM UTTAR PRADESH AND BIHAR, WHO LEFT THEIR NATIVE LAND IN SEARCH OF BETTER LIFE ABROAD OR SOME OTHER PART OF INDIA. IT DEALT WITH EVERYDAY STRUGGLES AND LONGING FOR THEIR MOTHERLAND.

BIDESIA WAS WIDELY SUNG DURING THE GIRMIT IN FIJI. BIDESIA IN INDIA REFERRED TO SOMEONE WHO EMIGRATED BUT, IN FIJI, IT GAINED A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT MEANING, WHICH DID NOT REFER TO THE PERSON WHO EMIGRATED BUT MAINLY CAPTURED THE CRY OF GIRMITIYAS PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THE SUGARCANE PLANTATIONS OF FIJI.

ALL BIDESIA SONGS COMPOSED IN FIJI SHOWED EXTREME PAIN AND SORROW. WOMEN USUALLY COMPOSED AND SANG BIDESIA AND IT ECHOED THEIR HEARTFELT PAINS AND TOUCHED THE HEARTS OF THOSE GIRMITIYAS WHO LISTENED TO IT. ONE FAMOUS COUPLET, COMPOSED IN THE SUGARCANE FIELDS OF FIJI, IS WIDELY KNOWN:

“CHHOORI KUDARI KE SANG AB BITAY DIN AUR RATIAN,
GANNE KI HARI HARI PATIYAAN, JAANE HAMRI DIL KI BATIYAAN”!

ONE OF THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH SINGING WAS THAT THE SINGER WAS ABLE TO RELEASE THE INBUILT PRESSURE OF EMOTIONS. IT WAS SUNG IN MOURNFUL VOICE – WITH TEARS STREAMING FREELY. IT ALSO HAD THE SAME EFFECT ON THE AUDIENCE WHO LISTENED TO THE HEARTBREAKING LYRICS THAT ALSO APPLIED TO THEIR LIVES. THEY WAILED, WEPT OR SOBBED, RESTORING THEIR WITHERED SPIRITS.

THEY COUNSELLED OR CONSOLED EACH OTHER. IT WAS ONE OF THE WAYS THAT GIRMITIYAS BORE THE ATROCITIES OF GIRMIT FOR FIVE YEARS, LEAVING A LEGACY OF ENDURANCE AND RESILIENCE IN SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS.

AFTER WRITING, TEARS IN PARADISE IN 2004, I WAS CAUGHT IN A SWIRL OF EMOTIONS THAT BROUGHT DEPRESSIVE THOUGHTS AND I DECIDED TO CAPTURE SOME OF THE PAIN OF GIRMITIYAS AND MY OWN SORROW IN A BIDESIA THAT I COMPOSED. IT ECHOES THE PAIN AND SORROW OF MY GIRMITIYA GRANDMOTHER’S HEART, AS SHE REFLECTS ON GIRMIT IN FIJI.

SWATNA LAL, OF AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, SINGS THIS BIDESIA AND I URGE YOU TO LISTEN TO EVERY WORD TO CAPTURE MY GRANDMOTHER’S ANGUISH AND HER DISTRESS. I RESTATE THE FIRST FEW LINES TO CONNECT YOU WITH THE SONG
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BIPATI HAMAARI SUNIYO RE DAIYA,
ROM ROM MEIN AB CHHITKE HAI CHINGARIYA X2
KHUNWAA PASINWAA SE SEENCHE CSR KI BAGIYA.
FIR BHI CHAABUK MAAR KHAAYE RE BIDESIA.

I HUMBLY INVITE YOU, EVEN IF YOU HAVE LISTENED TO THIS BIDESIA BEFORE, TO LISTEN TO IT ONCE MORE, WITH SOLEMNITY AND SOBRIETY TO ALLOW THE CURRENTS OF EMOTIONS TOUCH
YOUR HEART; AWARE THAT IT APLIES TO YOUR GIRMITIYA FOREBEARS AS MUCH AS IT APPLIED TO MY GRANDMOTHER. JOIN ME IN THIS UNIQUE JOURNEY TO REMEMBER, RECONNECT AND RESTORE MEMORIES OF OUR SORROWFUL HISTORY.