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Chowtaal are communal songs of the Spring season. The folk singing begins on the night of Vasant Panchami and Saraswati Awana (birth of Saraswati Maa, Goddess of Knowledge creatrix and patroness of the arts January-February) and continues until Holi, Festival of Spring at Purnima, the Full Moon, beginning the month of Chaitra (March-April). Chowtaal songs prefigure and invoke spring’s return, then welcome and celebrate the season’s advent. Songs with catchy verse rhymes are sung in a Gole, circle of men, made up of two sections.
The style is call-and-response between the two parts, each one trying to outdo the other in sportive play. Each singer plays jaal, a pair of hands cymbals, and a drummer plays the dholak. Singing begins slowly, almost recitative, and rises to a crescendo, with joyful, boisterous energy, punctuated with ecstatic shouts.