BHOPAL: Hundreds of 'Badhai Geet' welcoming the girl child in different languages and dialects were received in response to a contest organised by a local NGO.
The contest "Bitiya ke janm ke badhai geet lekhan rashtra-stariya pratiyogita" was organised by Sarokar, an NGO working for gender equality. The objective was to change the patriarchal mindset of society and protect the girl child. Traditionally, 'Badhai Geet' is sung only on the birth of a male child. Since the birth of a girl is not considered a matter of rejoicing so there are no songs welcoming her into this world.
The idea was innovative and the response was enthusiastic. A total of 127 entries were received from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and even Haryana, known for its high rate of female foeticide and infanticide. Of these, 17 winners were selected.
"I am overwhelmed by the response. It only shows that the mindset of society is changing," Kumud Singh from Sarokar said. She said that the announcement of the awards would end their association with the participants. "We will keep in touch with them and we will try to ensure that they work for gender equality in their respective areas," Singh said. She said Bollywood playback singer Meghan Sriram Dalton has approached us saying that they wish to sing some of these songs.
The award ceremony was organised through Zoom and Facebook Live on Sunday. The winners of the contest were: Saniara Khan (Raipur), Amit Khare (Bhopal), Manju Ashok Rajabhoj (Jabalpur), Neeti Jain (Panipat, Haryana), Maya Narayani (Kolkata), Anita Bharadwaj (Delhi), Chunni Pandit (Korba, Chhattisgarh), Rajni Dave (Indore), Shiralee Runwal (Gwalior), Pushpa Singh (Bhopal), Gayatri Soni (Khirkiya, MP), Urmila Sidar (Chhattisgarh), Anubha Prasad (Patna), Govind Bharadwaj (Ajmer, Rajasthan), Neelam Singh (Lucknow) and Smita Kumari (Bihar).
They wrote the 'Badhai' songs in Hindi, Bundeli, Asamiya, Malwi, Haryanvi and other languages and dialects. The jury included theatre artist Swastika Chakraborty, journalist Dayashankar Mishra, story writer Anulata Raj Nair, lyricist Vimal Bhandari and Laila.
Mishra said that it is not the words but the emotions behind such songs that are important. He recalled that in one of the songs, the mother says that she will manage everything else; only someone should make arrangements for her daughter's education. Bhandari hoped that such songs would become popular and prevalent.
Swastika Chakraborty said, "When I read the songs, I became so mesmerised that I kept on reading and re-reading them for over three days and even started humming some of them."
Chief guest Pusphendra Pal Singh, chief editor at Madhya Pradesh Madhyam, said that poverty and lack of education were not behind low sex ratio in our country. That, he said, was evident by the fact that men outnumber women in the urban areas and among well-educated communities. He said that societal mindset takes decades to change. "But the fact that baby girls are being welcomed shows that the change has begun," he added.