Australia-based founders started the page to counter the narrative of Haryana as a violence-prone, socially conservative state
It started off as a Facebook page to bring members of the community together, but in a few short months, it has evolved into a much-loved platform that’s spearheading a cultural revolution of sorts.
The Bol Haryana Facebook page, which was launched in July 2016, has more than 1.76 lakh followers and flaunts a verified badge. Getting featured on this page has proved to be the breakout moment for two folk singers, who are now bringing out their own albums.
A high school student’s rendition of a devotional song went viral and made her a star.
Such has been the success of Bol Haryana that an event was organised in Rohtak on January 1, 2017, to celebrate it. Folk singers and dancers from across the state took part in it and even state ministers were in attendance, where the two ministers announced a financial aid of Rs 5 lakh each.
The seeds of the idea were sown in February 2016, when Jats’ protest demanding reservation in higher education and government jobs turned violent. The 10-day protest, which saw arson, vandalism and, reportedly, rape, brought much disrepute to the state. That, coupled with stereotyping of Haryana in films and social media as a place where kangaroo courts pass bizarre diktats and a girl child is considered a bane, prompted three Haryanvi men to take some damage-control measures.
All the three — Pawan Tokas (34), Manu Parashar (28), and Joginder Barak (36) — are based in Australia. Tokas lives in Sydney and hails from Munirka village. Barak hails from Sonipat and lives in Queensland. Parashar works for the Melbourne City Council. They live 800 km apart. Barak said the three of them had never met in real life, but were connected through the posts they’d share on Facebook about Haryana’s culture, heritage, language and issues concerning the state. In the aftermath of the Jat agitation, they started Bol Haryana.
Tokas said they began by sharing folk songs, jokes, local tales, cuisines and recipes. The page started gaining followers not only from Haryana, but also from Rajasthan, Punjab and Pakistan. Parashar said Bol Haryana wanted to reach out to people and create a platform transcending boundaries. Soon, people started demanding more content and some even offered their free services to spread the message, he said.
Manu Parashar said Bol Haryana wanted to reach out to people and create a platform transcending boundaries. Soon, people started demanding more content and some even offered their free services to spread the message
Panghal’s is a crucial responsibility, as getting featured on the page can make a world of difference to an artiste. Just ask Megha Sehrawat and Mandeep Panghal. Their rendition of folk songs became a hit after they were shared on the Facebook page. These artistes gained considerable exposure — so much so that now they are in touch with writers regarding releasing albums of their own. A beautifully sung bhajan by Vidhi, a class IX student of a Rohtak village, fetched more than 20 lakh views after the video was shared on Bol Haryana’s Facebook page.
Spurred by this success, the team has started an online radio channel too, featured on their website and Android-only app, which enjoys a 4.9/5 rating
Before Bol Haryana, a Haryanvi couple living in Australia had won the hearts of their brethren through their gags and sketches uploaded on YouTube, made in their mother tongue. Their YouTube channel, Sheorans, boasts of more than 1.1 crore views. Another YouTube channel by a Haryana native based in New York, LShokeen Films, had come up in 2014 with gags that had a Haryanvi flavour. It has amassed more than 4.8 lakh subscribers and more than 8.1 crore views.
Haryanvi content has a mass audience on internet and such players are only too happy, and honoured, to be in the picture. While some go down the tried and tested path of making funny videos, Bol Haryana is looking to spread word about their culture.
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