introduction
b
The Unsung Sing
What is the question here, as I have already said, is the ability to ‘‘hear’’
that which we have not heard before, and to transgress in situating the
text or the ‘‘fragment’’ di√erently.
pandey, ‘‘voices from the edge,’’ 285
A
t wedding festivities across rural and urban north
India, just as the groom and members of the bar¯at
(groom’s party) prepare to depart with the bride, the fam-
ily of the bride, the ‘‘wife-givers,’’ belt out playfully abu-
sive songs calculated to assault the ears of the ‘‘wife-
takers.’’ Veiled animosity toward the extended family for
taking away a beloved daughter pours forth in finely or-
chestrated ritual abuse. This genre, known as al¯ı or ar¯ı
(abusive songs), is but one of many types of songs that
might be heard during a wedding ceremony. At numer-
ous wedding rituals, blessings loaded with symbolism
and advice are customarily sung.
Wedding songs, of course, constitute only a small pro-
portion of song repertoires that range from congratula-
tory birth songs and those marking other rites of passage
to songs associated with festivals and seasons. Such songs
are quite distinct from the songs that punctuate women’s
labor while grinding grain or transplanting rice, for ex-
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