As India became the first country to touch down on the Moon’s South Pole on August 23, an over 4-decade old video of a renowned Dhadi caught the fancy of social media users who are now going gaga over his rendering on moon and space missions.
Dhadis are ballad singers who otherwise focus on Sikh history and heroics, but late Daya Singh Dilbar took the tradition to another level, highlighting wonders of science also as he performed ‘Vaaran’ (ballad).
In a 3.22 minute video, believed to have been recorded in Canada between 1979 and 1980, Dilbar talks about “first rocket” launched by Russia in 1957, in apparent reference to space satellite Sputnik and the subsequent space and Moon missions.
Dilbar refers to a poem he heard during a programme in Hoshiarpur where poet said: “Vaare jayiye science de kartabaan de, duniya farsh nu arsh wal jhonk rahi e. Jithe chan di maa charkha katdi si kutti roos di othe aj bhaunk rahi e (Hats off to wonders of science due to which humans are exploring the Space. The place where mother of moon used to make yarn on spinning wheel, the female dog of Russia is barking there)”. It was in apparent reference to the dog Laika, one of the first animals sent to the space in 1957.
Dilbar also refers to a press conference of Russian scientists where, while responding to a media query, they claimed that they were in process of making a rocket which will travel at the speed of the light. Dilbar then tells the audience that the speed of the light was 1.86 lakh miles per second and that “time was approaching nearer when a man would tell his wife to start preparing tea [in Canada] while he comes back after visiting India”. He says time was not far when marriage “baraats” will come to Canada from India and vice versa.
Popularly known as International Gold Medallist Dhadi, Dilbar was born in 1930 in Sahari village of Lahore before shifting to India and settling in a village near Nawanshahr following Partition. He died in 2006. By then, he had put in 55 years as Dhadi, performing not only in Punjab and other parts of the country, but in United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
His son Kuljit Singh Dilbar, also a noted Dhadi and currently touring US, told The Indian Express over phone from Los Angeles, “Even today, people say there can be no parallel to Daya Singh Dilbar. His records echo in the cars of his fans here.” He said Dilbar had studied only till class 5 but was “an avid reader” and kept himself updated on various developments in the world.
Kuljit said his father was initially a poet, before he was impressed by legendary Dhadi and poet Giani Sohan Singh Seetal who happened to perform in a village near Sahari village before the partition. “He decided to set up his own Dhadi jatha once he settled in Indian side of Punjab as there were talks that partition was on the cards,” said Kuljit Singh, who took up the profession of being Dhadi after Dilbar was arrested by Chandigarh police in 1986 for making certain remarks “linked to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi”.
“He spent two years and eight months in jail,” said Kuljit, who was a cashier in Punjab and Sind Bank, before he took to singing ‘Dhadi vaars’ simultaneously. He opted for voluntary retirement from service in 2000. Post retirement, Kuljit completely dedicated self to his Dhadhi jatha.
“I was into western way of living, but my father always used to inspire me that like a doctor’s son becomes doctor, a lawyer’s son a lawyer, I should also take up the profession as Dhadi,” said Kuljit.
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