Saang Tradition in Haryana: A Cultural and Artistic Exploration of Pandit Lakhmichand's Performance

 Saang Tradition in Haryana: A Cultural and Artistic Exploration of Pandit Lakhmichand's Performance

Geeta Mattu1, Kumar Sargam2



The research provides a concise overview of its focus and objectives, centered around acknowledging Pandit Lakhmichand's significant contributions to Haryana's folk music tradition known as "Saang." It highlights Saang as a vibrant reflection of Haryana's culture, utilizing historical and mythological stories, theatrical elements, and societal values to enrich its musical expressions. The present work specifically emphasizes Pandit Lakhmichand's role as a spontaneous poet who infused Saangs with captivating romantic and religious themes, thereby adding depth and richness to the tradition. Moreover, the research's scope includes shedding light on Pandit Lakhmichand's artistic journey, influences, and commitment to social reform activities. It also mentions the examination of Saang performances' characteristics and elements, such as stage setup, lighting, musical instruments, costumes, and makeup, which are integral to understanding the essence of Saang. Overall, the research sets the stage for a comprehensive exploration of the Saang tradition in Haryana, with a specific focus on Pandit Lakhmichand's contributions and the unique elements that define Saang performances. It promises to offer valuable insights into the cultural, social, and religious aspects of Haryana's folk music landscape.

Keywords: Saang tradition, Haryana folk music, Cultural exploration, Performance elements


Haryana's vibrant culture and tradition are vividly portrayed through the art form known as 'Saang' (Attri, 2023). The form of Saang that is seen today has a rich history hidden behind it, going back many years (Kumar, 2010). Haryana's Saang tradition is influenced by various folk theater styles from neighboring regions, such as the Bhanda Pathar of Kashmir, Nakkal of Punjab, Khyal of Rajasthan, Nautanki of Uttar Pradesh, and Ras of Bihar and Bengal. Haryanvi songs are primarily based on the principles of melody and emphasize the essence of music. These are pure form of folk theater with strong connections to ordinary people. The stories available in history, mythology, or legends are presented to the audience in their respective style, language, and manner. It is for people of all ages and social backgrounds and represents a powerful tool for social commentary and education (Bhan, 1996).

Nowadays, Saang can be considered a complete form of Bhakti or Nautanki. The exact origin of the word 'Saang' is not certain, but it is believed to be derived from ‘Swang.’ The common meaning of Swang is to imitate the behavior, emotions, etc., of someone or something. Songs are the lifeline of Haryanvi Saangs. The intricacies of Saangs are woven with the art of musical instruments. It is the magic of ragas that makes them come alive. In Haryana's religious songs, one can immediately see the essence of religious and moral values. Such songs inspire people to engage in virtuous deeds, leaving behind sinful actions. ‘Sang’ was respected in society. Along with musicians, during the time of saints and ascetics, it also became known by other names like ‘swang’ or ‘sangit.’ Through sāngs, one can understand the social, economic, religious, and cultural aspects of any community using it. Sāng provides insights into society's beliefs, customs, traditions, culture, and social values (Gupta, 2005).


The research gives a deep look into the music and folk culture of contemporary Haryana. Many different sources of information are utilized to understand the research thoroughly with various data analysis, interview social studies during the field visit. Primary data sources of the study was questionnaire, interview and filed observation and live performance of the Saang during the period of filed visit in Umbala, Zind, Kurukshetra and other places of Haryana. Secondary sources of the data were extracted from archive of Akashvani, YouTube, Blogs, Websites, Books and Library. The research work also presents the author's comprehension of folk music and music studies. The research is built on a solid knowledge base to analyze and study the subject more effectively and precisely. The Methodology used in the research was historical method, descriptive method and field visit and survey method. Methodology of data analysis was based on both qualitative and quantitative method. 

Artistic Exploration of Pandit Lakhmichand

a. Life and legacy

Pandit Lakhmichand was a spontaneous poet. Whenever he sang a particular Saang, he never sang it in the same way twice. Each time he sang, it was in a new form. He added such a unique flavor of romance to the art of Saang that people compared it to the nectar, prompting them to savor its taste like honeybees. Dividing Pandit Lakhmichand's songs into different categories is challenging because there is no Saang by him where romantic and religious sentiments do not intermingle seamlessly.

His songs often blend heroic and humorous rasas (emotions) elements and feature instances of wit and humor, making it difficult to compartmentalize them into distinct categories. To learn the art of acting, he resided for a few days with Shri Chand Saangi, a resident of Hadipur, Haryana, who had a Saang troupe. For six months, he served his guru with unwavering dedication and reverence, and following this continuous practice, he returned home as proficient in the art of singing. The sweetness of his voice captivated young Lakhmichand's heart in such a way that upon their first meeting, he immediately considered Shri Manasinh as his guru (Sharma, 2006).In 1924, when Pandit Lakhmichand created his Saang, the songs that the public had previously witnessed were the ones they saw again with remarkable transformations in Lakhmichand's Saang. This led them to appreciate his artistry anew. In the sāng ‘Puranmal,’ composed by Pandit Lakhmichand and Pandit Vyas Ji, the main goal of both poets is to depict the practice of polyandry in society. Their close friend once said about them, ‘The one who understands Lakhmichand only as a singer is truly wise.’ Their perspective was always directed towards social reform activities. They directed the earnings from their songs towards charitable work. In Saangs, dance and acting are the primary means of expression. The nuances of Saang performances are enhanced through the expressions and movements of dance. The gestures and postures of dance make Saang's performances more attractive and emotionally resonant. In Saangs, there is also a subtle touch of humor, and its representation is carried out by the comedian, known as the ‘Nakli’ in the Saang tradition. During religious and social festivals, whether in temple courtyards, village gatherings, or small open stages, this style has been an essential means of entertainment for generations. These performances not only included love stories but also depicted contemporary social characters and behaviors. The credit for taking Saang to the pinnacle of popularity is attributed to Pandit Lakhmichand. He endeavored to embed Saang in the hearts of the Haryanvi people. Therefore, his contribution will always be remembered (Kumar, 2002).

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 Swar Sindhu: National Peer-Reviewed/Refereed Journal of Music

A UGC CARE listed Journal
ISSN 2320–7175 (O) | Volume 12, Issue 01, January-June, 2024
http://swarsindhu.pratibha-spandan.org © The Author(s) 2024


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