Weddings are the main theme at Funjabi Tuition this half term. Each week, we have looked at different aspects of Panjabi weddings and this week is boliyan weekend! Earlier, I caught up with Sonia Panesar, vocalist of Team Sur Sangeet, to explain the link between boliyan and weddings. Team Sur Sangeet are a collective of musicians who specialise in singing boliyan/folk music at weddings. In 2015, they shot to global fame when their comical Christmas boliyan went viral.
Sonia, what are boliyan and when were they first sung?
Boliyan means in simple terms, poetic verses, used in Panjabi folk music. Lyrically, they are short poems usually 4 lines at minimum all ending with a word that rhymes with the previous last word.
From my knowledge and understanding, boliyan have been used to highlight and to celebrate any happy occasion, namely weddings. With it all being Panjabi folk, it is likely that our Panjabi ancestors would have spontaneously improvised these poetic verses and gradually over time vocalists and songwriters would have set these lyrics in stone (so to speak).
I remember listening to Surinder Kaur and Parkash Kaur’s folk songs whilst growing up as they were in the forefront of Panjabi folk music. They were famous for folk music including boliyan, tappe, suhaag, ghorhiyan as well as generic love songs. I would imagine that the same or similar verses have been around for decades if not longer!
Why are they so important to Panjabi weddings?
Boliyan are fun and involve a fair amount of harmless teasing. They can be very meaningful and relevant to the traditions, rituals. They can also make reference to the role and relevance of important family members surrounding a typical Panjabi wedding. i.e. addressing a Mama and Mami.
What makes a good boli?
A good boli is one that connects with a person, or where a person is directly addressed by way of their character or personality. The perfect boli needs to be short and punchy, sweet and sour, leaving you with a big punchline!
How have boliyan at weddings changed over the years?
In my opinion boliyan are still boliyan. There are ones that have been heard or sung several times, but no matter how many times you hear them you never get bored!
Personally, I don’t think boliyan have changed much except maybe that they are used more to ensure a filled dance floor at weddings!
This week at Funjabi Tuition, the children will attempt to write their own boliyan, what advice can you offer?
To use the following English verse as a guide. This is a perfect example to show the simplicity in the rhyming. Also, keep it fun and if possible witty.
Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and so are you!
Finally, what's your favourite boli?
Kade hoo karke, kade haa karke, gehra dede ni mutiyaare lambi baa karke!!!
Photo credit: L-R Dhani (guitarist), Vinni Virdee (vocalist), Sonia Panesar (vocalist) and Bobby Panesar (dholak player/percussionist)