ḌHĀḌĪ, one who sings vārs or ballads to the accompaniment of a musical instrument called ḍhaḍ, a drumlet held in the palm of one hand and played with the fingers of the other. A concomitant of ḍhaḍ is the sāraṅgī, a stringed instrument. Ḍhāḍīs, patronized by chiefs and princes. eulogized the deeds of valour of the members of the families they served or of popular folk heroes. In the Dasam Granth (Charitra 405), their origin is traced back to the mythological combat between Mahākāl and Suāsvīrya, the first ancestor of the ḍhāḍīs being born of the sweat of the former. Although the institution of ḍhāḍī dates back to time immorial and Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) has recorded himself in the Gurū Granth Sāhib as a ḍhāḍī singing praises of the Supreme Lord, yet history mentions Bakhshū (d. 1535) who was patronized first by Rājā Mān Siṅgh Tomar (1486-1516) of Gwalior and after his death by the kings of Kāliñjar and Gujrāt, as the first ḍhāḍī. He is also credited with the invention of a new rāga which he named Bahādur Ṭoṛī after the name of Sultān Bahādur of Gujrāt, who was his patron during the last years of his life. In the Sikh tradition, ḍhāḍīs have flourished since the days of Gurū Hargobind (1595-1644) who engaged some leading exponents of the art to recite heroic balladry at Sikh assemblies. The two names recorded in old chronicles are those of Abdullah and Natthā, of the village of Sursiṅgh, in present-day Amritsar district. Among the leading ḍhāḍīs of the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh are mentioned Mīr Chhabīlā Mushkī and Natth Mall. Ḍhāḍīs have continued to be popular and at larger Sikh dīvāns, especially honouring the memory of heroes and martyrs, they are listened to avidly as they render in ringing folk tunes their deeds of gallantry and sacrifice. Natth Mall, who also composed a vār entitled Amar Nāmā, originally in Persian and later translated into Punjabi by Dr Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, is said to have been in the train of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at the time of his journey to the South.


    Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, trans. , Nath Mall's Amar Nāmā. Amritsar, 1953

Partāp Siṅgh Giānī