Sunday, January 26, 2020

Dhol Girl of India breaking traditional sterotypes

Pallavi Sareen

CHANDIGARH, Jan 30: Jahan Geet Singh, popularly known as the Dhol Girl of India has been breaking stereotypes by playing ‘Dhol’ which is mainly considered an instrument exclusively for men.

Dhol, a signifier of Punjabi Culture is much loved across the world for its vibrant beats and energetic rhythm. In a conversation exclusively with The Straight Line, Jahan Geet Singh and her family talked about the journey which turned a lean determined girl into an icon for girls all around.

“She was just 12 years old when she said she wanted to learn dhol and we were sure that if Jahan Geet was saying it, she would do it. She has always been a determined kid,” said Parminder Kour, her mother.

Jahan Geet talked fondly about her father who acted as her backbone and never stopped her from doing anything. Learning dhol at her place meant listening to the neighbors’ banter over noise, handling tantrums of relatives but her parents and her brother remained on her side through her struggle with an unconventional dream.

“I have always liked doing out of the box things. I am 5 years trained in Bhangra which is again a dance form considered appropriate only for men. I like riding bikes and my dream is to ride a Bullet.”

Jahan Geet Singh, just the name attracts raised eyebrows considering ‘Singh’ is used for men in Punjabi culture and ‘Kour’ is used for the women. But Jahan Geet told TSL that her family has always had unique thinking and for them, the birth of a girl was a cause for celebration. Her unique and interesting life began when her parents named her Jahan Geet Singh.

With the mei apni favourite hu attitude, she is pursuing law side by side with her career as a Dhol player. She has represented Punjabi culture internationally through performing in various countries and even being on Tedx Talks.

“Dhol has a strong connection with Punjabi culture and though I started playing it as a hobby, because I wanted to make people dance on my beats, now it has become a passion and part of my identity,” said Jahan Geet. Known among people as dhol wali deedi, she talked about how the sneers of peers turned into appreciation once she gained fame through social media and mainstream media.

“My first performance was at a youth festival and no one in the audience expected me to actually play the dhol. They thought I would just act and there would be background music. Even they didn’t realise that they were going to be the first audience to a one-of-a-kind event.” Jahan Gee fondly remembered the memory of her walking down the stage in complete silence, waiting for any sort of reaction from the audience.

“It took a little time for them to process what had just happened. But then I heard an applause.”

Jahan Geet raised questions about the decaying importance of dhol wondering why there were no formal classes for dhol or an actual degree.

“If you can do PhD in Tabla, then why not dhol?”

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