We conclude our series on bird representations in Hindustani compositions and raags with the ninth episode returning to the papiha or hawk-cuckoo, a bird we had referred to peripherally in the very first episode. As I had mentioned in some of the previous episodes, references to more than one bird or even to animals and insects may appear in a single composition to recreate the natural ambience of a particular season that reminds the protagonist of the separated lover.

We begin this episode with a track featuring the famous Gwalior vocalist DV Paluskar, who sings a popular drut or fast-paced composition composed by Mahavat/Mahabat Khan “Manrang” in Lalit, a raag prescribed for the morning.

It is set to the 16-matra Teentaal. The song-text describes the papiha, koel (cuckoo), mor (peacock), jhingar/jhingur (cricket), daadur (frog), crying aloud, almost in delight because the lovers are going to be together again.

Begum Akhtar presents a saavan, a song-form prescribed for the monsoon. The song-text describes the protagonist appealing to the papiha to “speak” softly, implying that the papiha’s cries reminds the protagonist of separation from the lover.

A popular bandish or composition in Sur...

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