“Chandaa mama door ke,

Puye pakaayen boor ke…”

“Moon Uncle Who Lives Far away,
Cooks Delicious Sweet Bread…”

Does this lullaby bring back the sweet memories of your childhood? Did it trigger the nostalgia of a simple and beautiful time? The melody comes to you by itself, right? These and many more lullabies are sung to children across the country in diverse languages and dialects. When you spend an anxious & sleepless night or miss your loved ones during the lockdown, listening to lullaby soothes your mind. No matter how much we deny it, we all have a child inside our mind. Lullabies have a significant role in shaping the pristine and loving bond between the mother and child. However, the evocative lullabies are disappearing in this fast-changing world.

Lullaby (or Lori) creates a soothing effect in a child’s mind

The Lori Project is first of its kind initiative that aims to collect, document and curate lullabies across India. It’s a crowd-sourced project started by four friends: Shubham, Adya, Nishita and Anurag in May 2020. They are working towards building an easily accessible, free, digital repository of lullabies in different languages and dialects. The idea came to Shubham when he was searching for lullabies for his 5-year-old niece. Having no recollection of lullabies from his childhood, now he could not find lullabies that were raw and close to heart for his niece. Most of the contemporary lullabies were heavily influenced by Bollywood and popular culture. His search for authentic and culturally rooted lullabies for his niece inspired him to start the Lori Project with his friends.

The team aims to enable the children of future generations to connect with their culture through lullabies. Being a project driven by passion, the focus has been on music and heritage. Lullabies, especially from rural and tribal regions are authentic, rooted in culture and nature. They have vivid descriptions of mans’ connect with nature, mother earth, animals and folklore. Lullabies are an important part of the rich folk music culture. They’re also windows to study the vibrant and fascinating aspects of culture, society, folklore over generations.

The Indian lullaby often have vivid descriptions of man’s connect with the nature

Multiple kinds of research have been carried out by Government and Academic institutions to document the cultural aspects of India. But their findings remain confined to the vaults of libraries and archives. All this rich and intangible heritage is vanishing because of the neglect of indigenous culture and influence of movies. Thus more awareness among the citizens will help to preserve the intangible assets of our society and civilization.

Another benefit of initiating the projects is that it will improve the mental health and well-being of mother and child. Sudden sleep loss for parents of a newborn could lead them to incessant waking up at night leading to increased depression, increased fatigue and confusion levels.

The team is leveraging the power and reach of social media to generate awareness and build its presence. The team members’ expertise in the social development sector and their network is helping them to connect with people from varied backgrounds. They believe in fluidity and dynamism at this stage and will shape a business model while charting out their journey.

The major activities of the project are outreach, collection and curation of lullabies from varied regions. Their mode of operation is simple. They ask for recordings of lullabies sung by everyday people in far off cities and villages over Whatsapp or E-mail. They either ask or search for translation and stories related to the received recording. These recordings are then uploaded on their social media and Youtube channels over which the audience can cherish the delightful melodies of their childhood. As luck would have it, few artists have volunteered to contribute to the cause as well. The team is trying to gather more lullabies from tribal areas with the local dialects and stories, rather than just urban cities. The languages covered till now are Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Marathi.

The Lori Project offers an online repository of lullaby in different Indian languages

The team is planning to reach out to diverse networks of tribal communities. They aim to involve local artists and tribals so that the indigenous lullabies can reach a wider audience. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they are unable to connect with them. The lack of properly documented, publicly available literature and research material is another problematic area.

Crowdsourcing the cultural product of lullaby by the use of social media can enable the team to revolutionize the entire system of culture. By increasing deeper engagement and penetration of indigenous culture along with employment opportunities generation will surely help to address a plethora of issues. The Lori Project believes in creating unique value for the audience by helping them rejoice the memories of their childhood. It has been an enriching experience for the team as well with extensive learning and researching about the lullabies. By engaging the plural communities of India through voluntarily contributing to the project, the Lori Project looks forward to promoting diversity in language and culture of India with the creative potential of the lullaby.

Article by Jafreen Alamgir with inputs from Subhav Duggal, Team ulaunch

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