“Pahan Chunariya” is a RAG (sometimes RAGA) celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, “Rag” is a fundamental concept in Indian classical music that refers to a set of melodic structures that musicians use as a framework for “coloring the mind of the listener with an emotion.” Each rag is composed of at least five notes within which musicians improvise, interplaying with that rag’s unique characteristics to take the audience on a satisfying emotional journey.
We first hear this rag on the Smithsonian Folkways “Ragas: Songs of India,” performed by The Balakrishna of Travancor.
Lyrics of All Around This World version
Pahan chunariya kali O!, dekho nach rahi Divali
Lets light candles on Diwali, oh!
Let’s light candles on Diwali, oh!
Let’s light candles on Diwali
All the kids light candles on Diwali
And the original? The liner notes of “Ragas: Songs of India” translates the lyrics of the original as:
“Divali with a black dress on is dancing with luminously flickering lamps;
Gold, silver and wealth are praised by all, but she is satisfied with love and affection even though one might be poor.
Her heart is never empty, never empty! Divali is dancing.
O myself, let me light a lamp, let me kindle love in this heart, the darkness of sorrows will be dispelled and will not remain dark, will not remain dark, Divali is dancing.”