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Sample Track 1:
"Rabh da Roop" from Kiran Ahluwalia
Sample Track 2:
"Jhanjra" from Kiran Ahluwalia
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Kiran Ahluwalia
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Kiran Ahluwalia Explains the Songs

Yeh Nahin    (Track 2)
Music, Kiran Ahluwalia
Lyrics, Rafi Raza

Ghazals are poems and once written they are open to interpretation. The first two lines of this ghazal can be translated as:

It is not that I intended to come here but the path has led me here.

This can be interpreted as the poet’s journey from his native Pakistan to his adopted homeland, Canada.  I’m much more of a romantic, so when I was composing the music for these lyrics I thought of this as being about someone who has unconsciously ended up on his lover’s doorstep.

He goes on to explain, “I know my soul seems dusty and stained but you don’t know how long I’ve been travelling and how hard I’ve been trying to shake off the dust of my travels – so please won’t you take the time to look beyond the dust, and please won’t you take the time to understand me”.

Jhanjra     (Track 3)
Punjabi folk song
Music & lyrics, Trad

Punjab is a huge region in northern India and eastern Pakistan.  This is a Punjabi folk song which, in a very light hearted way, is telling a young, beautiful girl to not be too flamboyant with the sound of her ankle bells – they might cause envy among others.

Rahb da Roop  (Track 4)
Music, Kiran Ahluwalia
Lyrics, Rasheed Nadeem

I have found my beloved.
He appeared as the image of heaven.
My friend, I have found my love
but lost myself.

These words can be about carnal or spiritual love.  One interpretation is that they are about finally gaining enlightenment and losing one’s self, one’s ego, to discover only God.

Koka    (Track 5)
Music and Lyrics, Traditional

The women of Punjab love their jewelry.  This folk song is about a girl trying to convince her lover to buy her a nose ring – long before it was trendy.

Yaar     (Track 6)
Music Vithal Rao
Lyrics, Bahadur Shah Zafar

This ghazal is one of the classics -- lyrics written in the1860’s.   The melody, however, is a contemporary composition of my teacher, Vithal Rao.  This ghazal was written by the last Emperor of Delhi, Bahadhur Shah Zafar, 1775-1862.  In 1857 there was a national uprising known as the Great Indian Mutiny.  Zafar was convicted by the ruling British as leading this mutiny.  He witnessed the execution of all his sons and was himself deported to Rangoon.  But the loss of Zafar the King was the gain of Zafar the poet.  Zafar died in Rangoon in 1862.

It is probable that Zafar wrote this ghazal while imprisoned.  Many of his poems are written with a sense of resignation and passivity no doubt as a result of the suffering, decay, and ruin he witnessed in his own life.  He writes with a feeling of helplessness and melancholy, as he laments that no one is bringing him news of his lover.  This is a ghazal in which romantic terminology is used to mask the emperor’s love for his land – India. 

Ik Ranjha    (Track 7)
Music, Kiran Ahluwalia
Lyrics, Bule Shah

“I am in need of my lover, Ranjha” -  is the chorus of this Punjabi folk song.  These words were written in the 1800’s by a famous poet, Bule Shah.  I discovered this poem while travelling in the villages and towns of Punjab in 1996.   The melody is something I composed a few years back.  Ranjha is a folkloric figure personifying the perfect man.

Kina Nere          (Track 8)
Music, Kiran Ahluwalia
Lyrics, Rasheed Nadeem

This is one of the first ‘Canadian’ ghazals that I composed.  The lyrics are by Canadian South Asian poet, Rasheed Nadeem. It is about someone who is trying to get closer to his beloved.  But no matter how hard he tries the distance between them remains vast, and so his ghazal, his love song remains unsung.

Meri Gori Gori (Track 9)
Music and lyrics, Traditional

In this Punjabi folk song a girl is describing her beautiful yet bare wrists.  She’s doing this to try and persuade her lover to go to the market and buy her some yellow bangles – perhaps some 24 karat gold bangles!

Awara   (Track 10)
Music, Kiran Ahluwalia
Lyrics, Unknown. 

During a visit from my Aunt, she and my mother remembered that their Uncle used to recite this poem to them when they were teenagers.  Family folklore has it that my great Uncle was the author of these lines and in the source of his inspiration is a family story not fully explored.  As they were reminiscing, I promptly ran to get a pen and paper and wrote down the lyrics.  One year later I set them to music.

The song is about a man who has fallen in love.  He refers to his beloved as a ‘goddess of love’.  People come to him and alert him to the fact that they have seen her with ‘others’.  In his carefree youth he laughs off these accusations.  But in the end he realizes that perhaps she is merely a stone sculpture of a goddess – beautiful - but without true affection.

Additional Info
Kiran Ahluwalia Pursues the Beloved: The Nexus of Ghazal Love ...
Kiran Ahluwalia Explains the Songs

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