The cow’s ‘sons' refers to the farmer and the bullock in one of the six ovi in this edition of the Grindmill Songs Project on PARI. These songs, by Phulabai Bhong of Nimgaon Ketki village in Pune district, speak of anxiety due to a lack of rain and the joy that rainfall brings

The verses in this instalment of the Grindmill Songs Project tell us what it is like when it doesn’t rain and how it feels when it does. The performer, Phulabai Bhong, sings memorable and hummable melodies in her deep voice.

She starts by telling Meghraja (the Rain King) that he did well by falling and pouring out of the sky the way he did because the bullock could drink water from the small rain-water filled furrow near the plough – the animal, it is implied, did not have to go to the pond source to quench its thirst.  

Phulabai then sings that Megharaja has embellished the sky with a black mare – that is, a black cloud that portends rain. Seeing this black mare, the earth goes wild with joy. 


A cow and calf in a shed


The third song uses the earth-rain pairing as a comparison to a woman and her husband. The singer tells us that just like the earth has no lustre without rainwater, a woman has no importance without a husband. This line in the ovi indicates the social status of women in rural India (and across most parts of India), where a married woman is given more respect than one who is unmarried or a widow.

When there is no timely rain, Phulabai asks Megharaja, “what is in your mind?” She sings that the sons of the cow – the farmer and the bullock – are both praying for rain in the fields. When there is not a drop of rain, the whole world worries and these sons of a cow have no choice but to fast.  

In the sixth and the last ovi, the singer describes how good it is when it does rain. Phulabai addresses Meghraja and says that when the god pours water into the fields and everywhere, she is very happy because then the young offspring of man and sheep are able to quench their thirst.



पडं पडं तु मेघराजा, आत्ता पडूनी बरं केलं 
नेनंत्या राघूबाचं, नंदी तासाला पाणी पेलं 

अगं पडं तु मेघराजा यानं सजवीली काळी घोडी
यानं सजवीली काळी घोडी, सारी पिरतीम झाली येडी

पावूस पाणी नाही  त्याजं नाही त्या जमिनीला
भरतारावाचूनी वजं नाही त्या कामीनीला

असा पावूस पाणी नाही, कायी तुझ्या रे मनामंदी
गायीच्या बाळाईनी हातं जोडीले रानामंदी

असा पावुस पाणी नाही, सरवी दुनीया गांजयली
अग गायीच्या बाळायानी, कशी रोजना मांडीयली

पडं पडंतु मेघराजा, सार्या माळानी पाणीपाणी
किती सांगू गं बाई तुला, मेंढ्या बाळाची बाळं तान्ही


paḍa paḍa tu mēgharājā āttā paḍūnī bara kēla
nēnantyā rāghūbāca nandī tāsālā pāṇī pēla

aga paḍa tu mēgharājā yāna sajavīlī kāḷī ghōḍī
yāna sajavīlī kāḷī ghōḍī sārī piratīma jhālī yēḍī

pāvūsa pāṇī nāhī nāhī tyāja tyā jaminīlā
bharatārāvācūnī vaja nāhī tyā kāmīnīlā

asā pāvūsa pāṇī nāhī kāyī tujhyā rē manāmandī
gāyīcyā bāḷāīnī hāta jōḍīlē rānāmandī

asā pāvusa pāṇī nāhī saravī dunīyā gāñjayalī
aga gāyīcyā bāḷāyānī kaśī rōjanā māṇḍīyalī

paḍa paḍatu mēgharājā sāryā māḷānī pāṇīpāṇī
kitī sāṅgū ga bāī tulā mēṇḍhyā bāḷācī pōra tānhī


Meghraja, you pour and pour, you did well to pour now
My young Raghoba’s bullock drank water from the furrow near the plough

Meghraja, you pour, you create a black mare 
He decorated a black mare, the whole earth became wild with joy

No rain, no water, the soil has no lustre
Without a husband, the woman has no standing

There is not a drop of rain, what do you have in mind
The cow’s sons are both praying in the field

There is not a drop of rain, the whole world is worried
The cow’s sons are compulsorily fasting

Meghraja, you pour water in the fields and everywhere
How much can I tell you O woman, farmer and sheep both have young ones

Note: The singer is telling a neighbour that she is so happy that the young offspring of farmer and sheep have water to quench their thirst.


Photograph of Phulabai Bhong

Performer/Singer: Phulabai Bhong

Village: Nimgaon Ketki

Taluka: Indapur

District: Pune

Caste: Phulmali (gardener)

Date: The information, photograph and songs here were recorded on December 11, 1995.

Photos: Hema Rairkar and Namita Waikar

Poster: Shreya Katyayini

PARI Grindmill Songs Project Team

PARI Grindmill Songs Project Team: Asha Ogale, Jitendra Maid, Bernard Bel, Namita Waikar

Other Stories by PARI Grindmill Songs Project Team