Learn about the rich Punjabi culture and traditions. Also read about Punjabi history.
MIRASIThe significant role of Mirasis (jesters) in the cultural life of Punjab cannot be ignored. They were known as Bhand or Naqqal (actors), their profession being to make others laugh by enacting humorous anecdotes. They were mostly Muslims. They used to lead a very rough and rustic life, and formed a very poor section of Punjabi society. In times of yore, they were encouraged and patronised by feudal lords and sometimes found employment in big and small courts. They, entertained people with their pungent witticisms, mimicry ('Swang'! humorous and satirical dialogues, rough dances and pantomimes. They also enacted amusing scenes by using a leather strap called "Chamota" which was very similar to slapstick. They were good story-tellers.
|In lean times, when patronage was lacking from aristocracy and nohility, they earned their livelihood by entertaining the commoners on weddings, betrothal ceremonies and other auspicious occasions. At times, they were invited by rich people or admirers to sing songs based on the theme of Raja Rasalu. These songs were known as Khioore. There was a common practice to invite two or more than two Mirasis and make them sit face to face to sing. They used to sing the whole night sitting on the terraces, one hand placed on the ear and the other extended in front. Such programmes were generally orga-nised on full-moon nights. The whole' atmosphere used to get satu-rated with their musical strains.|
|It is unfortunate that all the colour and vivacity of everyday life in Punjab has vanished on account of partition. Those happy memories still linger in the minds of Punjabis who are above fifty years old. One or two Hindu families of Mirasis still survive around Ludhiana and Jullundur.|
Sources: Cultural Heritage of Punjab, K C Aryan