Panihari style of music were developed by woman of Rajasthan. As water is a scare commodity in the parched desert lands of Rajasthan and women who fetch water from afar called Panihari. The overworked women created melodious numbers that spoke of flowing rivers and the splashing waves. Most songs often had water and rains as their theme. Soon Panihari songs became famous and common.
Panihari slowly came to be a part of the rich folk dance and music culture of this state. Themes too grew to encompass the daily affairs of women and their household chores. The songs sung as the women washed and cleaned and worked around the village well were also classified as Panihari songs.
Women sing Panihari as the expression of their love and disappointment, unappreciated sacrifices at the altar of mundane domesticity. Humor and mirth too was added to these songs by the womenfolk. They took this opportunity to take a dig at their troublesome mother-in-laws. Panihari was an effective expression of the pent up creativities of the rustic Rajasthani women.
A famous theme of the Panihari songs is the tale of a young, unwed girl who stumbles upon a stranger on her way home from the well. Taking pity upon the parched stranger she offers him some water. After the drink the immodest stranger sings praises of her beauty and follows her home on her camel. Fuming at such outrage the village complains to her mother. The lady meets the stranger and laughs at her daughter’s ignorance as the stranger turns out to be the girl’s fiance.
The mischievous romance, the mock anger and the humor of a happy end are captured well in this song. Panihari songs are not set to any formal or classical note or raaga. They are lilting melodies that spontaneously overflow from a woman’s heart.