Shirley’s Bhumbro Appeal to Kashmiri Youth

Bhumbro featuring Shirley Setia, Parry G and Aditya Dev

Bhumbro is a delightful folk song from the valley of Kashmir. The original Bhumbro was composed by Kashmiri composer Mohan Lal Aima for Dinanath Nadim’s Bombur ta Yemberzal, the first Kashmiri opera to be written and performed in 1953, Vinayak Razdan said on his blog Search Kashmir. The opera traces the romance between Bombur, the bumblebee, and Yemberzal, the Narcissus flower. As Bombur roams about in search of his beloved Yemberzal, the antagonists Wav and Harud play mischief. 

Mohan Lal Aima’s composition of Bhumbro is said to be a faster reworking of an existing tune in the Chakri folk tradition. Nadim’s lyrics were based on Kashmiri poet Shamas Fakir’s Gachithay oas meyoan Oalooy, according to a 2001 account by Kashmiri playwright Moti Lal Kemmu, who was associated with the opera’s first performance.

The song was reworked in 2000 for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir(2000) by composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy featuring Bollywood actress, Preity Zinta as Kashmiri woman.

It is a song so popular in the valley that grandmothers still sing it to the delight of their grandchildren. It was reworked and presented most beautifully in the movie Mission Kashmir a few years back.

In Kashmir, the night of Mehndi is a big affair. It is the night when, in a way to beautify the bride to be, mehndi (heena) is put on her hands. All the other women in the household also put mehndi and many songs are sung to praise the beauty of the bride. The song Bhumbro belongs to this occasion. It is calling out to the bumbro, Kashmiri for bumblebee, an insect that hovers over flowers of the valley, and thanking him for bringing all the beauty and colours of flowers with him.

The bumblebee is shyam coloured- the colour of Krishna. Krishna is depicted in various art forms as having a peculiar body colour. While some represent it with a shade of blue, some with a smoky grey, some with a dark black. The reason is that Krishna was born at midnight and so is said to have taken on the colour of the night. The word for evening in hindi is shyam, and since Krishna was evening coloured, he is also known as Shyam. Hence the word shyam is widely used in Indian poetry. It means the colour of Krishna, which in turn means the colour of one’s male lover.

The reason for saying shyam coloured bumbro is that the bumbro seems to be coming from the garden of the groom, and has thus brought with him all his love and affection. Darker the colour of mehndi gets on the bride’s hand, the more the groom would love her- or so the saying goes. This is a song of celebration, of love and of childlike innocence. It is resonance of the beautiful Kashmiri people.

In Kashmir, the night of Mehndi is a big affair. It is the night when, in a way to beautify the bride to be, mehndi (heena) is put on her hands. All the other women in the household also put mehndi and many songs are sung to praise the beauty of the bride. The song bumbro belongs to this occasion. It is calling out to the bumbro, Kashmiri for bumblebee, an insect that hovers over flowers of the valley, and thanking him for bringing all the beauty and colours of flowers with him.

The bumblebee is shyam coloured- the colour of Krishna. Krishna is depicted in various art forms as having a peculiar body colour. While some represent it with a shade of blue, some with a smoky grey, some with a dark black. The reason is that Krishna was born at midnight and so is said to have taken on the colour of the night. The word for evening in hindi is shyam, and since Krishna was evening coloured, he is also known as Shyam. Hence the word shyam is widely used in Indian poetry. It means the colour of Krishna, which in turn means the colour of one’s male lover.

So the reason for saying shyam coloured bumbro is that the bumbro seems to be coming from the garden of the groom, and has thus brought with him all his love and affection. Darker the colour of mehndi gets on the bride’s hand, the more the groom would love her- or so the saying goes.

It is a song of celebration, of love and of childlike innocence. It is a song of the beautiful Kashmiri people.

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