This month, PARI’s Grindmill Songs Project has featured couplets on Babasaheb Ambedkar and caste issues to mark Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14. Muktabai Jadhav of Beed district winds up this series
As the month of April draws to a close, we bring the last of this series of ovi on Babasaheb Ambedkar. The two couplets featured here are by Muktabai Jadhav of Bhim Nagar. This hamlet in Majalgaon, a taluka village, has a predominantly Dalit population. For the Grindmill Songs Project, it has been a rich source of songs about Ambedkar.
In the first ovi, the performer asks when Ramabai made gold earrings. She answers that Ambedkar sent them to his wife by an airplane. The gold ornaments and the airplane both signify prosperity and economic advancement.
In the second song, Muktabai asks women of Brahmin families why they are sprinkling their courtyards (a morning ritual), implying this is not the only work they should do. In the next line, she says that the Dalits have moved out of their (imposed) confines and reached Buddha’s mansion (Buddhism). They will no longer do menial duties like dragging the carcasses of dead animals, a task that the system of caste-based occupations has forced on them for centuries. Instead, the Brahmin women will have to do this work – a reference to breaking caste-based distinctions, even if symbolically.
सोन्याचे घोसफुल रमाबाई कधी केले
भीमराज तीचे पती इमाईनात पाठविले
बामणाचे पोरी काय टाकीतीस सडा
आमी गेलो बुध्द वाड्या आता तुम्ही ढोर वढा
sōnyācē ghōsaphula ramābāī kadhī kēlē
bhīmarāja tīcē patī imāīnāta pāṭhavilē
bāmaṇācē pōrī kāya ṭākītīsa saḍā
āmī gēlō budhda vāḍyā ātā tumhī ḍhōra vaḍhā
Ramabai, when did you make these gold earrings?
Bhimraj, her husband, sent them by airplane
Daughter of a Baman, why are you sprinkling water in the courtyard?
We have gone to Buddha’s mansion, now you drag the dead animals
Performer/Singer: Mukta Jadhav
Hamlet: Bhim Nagar
Caste: Nav Bauddha (Neo Buddhist)
Date: These songs were recorded on April 2, 1996
Poster: Shreya Katyayini
Photos: Samyukta Shastri
Also see — ‘Keep working and look for the divine everywhere’ by Jitendra Maid
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