Amid the success of Chandrayaan-3 which has put the nation in the league of countries that boast of moon exploration missions, an over 40 decades old video of a renowned Dhadi of yesteryears which was recorded in Canada has resurfaced online catching the fancy of a number of Facebook users who admire his rendering on moon and space missions.
Dhadis are ballad singers who otherwise focus on singing Sikh history events and heroics, but late Daya Singh Dilbar took the Dhadi tradition to another level, highlighting wonders of science also as he performed ‘Vaaran’ (ballad).
In the three-minute and 22 second video, believed to be 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 of Russia and America.
Over what the audience bursts into laughter, Dilbar while mentioning the Space and Moon missions, refers to a poem he heard during a program 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”. His apparent reference to Soviet space dog Laika, one of the first animals sent to the Space who was first to orbit earth in 1957.
Dilbar also refers to a press conference of Russian scientists where, while responding to a media query, they claim, “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.
The video, shared by a Facebook user in June this year, has Facebook users, in their comments amid success of Chandrayaan-3, lauding Dilbar for including scientific developments during his performance.
A Facebook user wrote, “knowledgeable talks which are missing in today’s Dhadis”. Another wrote, “Atleast he is making statements that are correct unlike today where on reels we are fed all sorts of falsehood.”
Popularly came to be known as International Gold Medallist Dhadi, Dilbar was born on November 9, 1930 in Sahari village in Lahore district before he came to India and settled in a village near Nawanshahr during partition.
He breathed his last at Dayanand Medical College Ludhiana on January 26, 2006 due to a cardiac ailment. 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, who is also a noted Dhadi and visiting 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 who though was only class V pass out, was “an avid reader” which helped him keep 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 in Pakistan before the partition. “He (Dilbar) later told me that impressed by Giani Sohan Singh Sital, he had 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 himself was compelled by the circumstances to take up the profession of being Dhadi after Daya Singh Dilbar was arrested by Chandigarh police and sent to Burail jail in a case for making remarks during a performance in Panjab University, which “police said were linked to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi”.
“He spent two years, eight months and 13 days in jail after his arrest from Guru Gobind Singh College, Chandigarh in 1986. He was booked in a case by Chandigarh police about seven to eight months prior to that for a performance in Panjab University where he narrated the story of Shaheed Udham Singh and said, “He (Udham Singh) did not forget his enemy for 21 years and took the revenge by killing Michael O’Dwyer – The former Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab in India was killed on 13 March 13, 1940 in revenge for April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre – and there are other brave people who take the revenge within six months. This was construed to be aimed at assassination of Indira Gandhi,” said Kuljit.
“After he was sent to jail, the members of my father’s Dhadi jatha came to me and said since he (Dilbar) was in jail, the programs booked by the jatha needed to be honoured and I should come forward that,” said Kuljit, who was a cashier in Punjab and Sind Bank, took to singing ‘Dhadi vaars’ simultaneously, before taking voluntary retirement in 2000 when he had already been promoted as Scale-I officer and has 13 years of service left. Post retiring, 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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