Boliyan or bolis are couplets that are sung by women of Panjabi heritage to the beat of a dholki – a South Asian folk drum – and a spoon used for tapping on the body of the drum. The women sit in a circle and a boli is usually introduced by one woman. Other women then form a chorus and clap their hands to the rhythmic beats.



William Street, Huddersfield HD1 6BG, UK

Hudawi Centre


A boli expresses a woman’s emotions in a striking poetic way, from sadness and pain to joy and sensuality. Women recite boliyan and dance the giddha – a popular folk dance of the Panjab region – at family weddings, usually the night before the wedding day.

It was the early generation of women who migrated to Huddersfield in 1950s and 1960s from India and Pakistan who carried this Panjabi culture to Britain. They would sing about their homelands and the loved ones they left behind. It was a way to hold onto memories, the songs evoking feelings of family, home, love and friendships.

This form of music and storytelling has been passed down generation by generation orally and new lines get added whilst keeping the song whole. The local women’s group Teeyan Da Mela organise an annual women’s event in August at the Hudawi Centre and include boliyan and giddha performances to ensure this tradition, heritage and culture is kept alive.

‘It’s important for us to maintain our Panjabi rich music heritage and pass it on to the next generation so that it doesn’t get lost in time,’ says Prabhjot Kaur – Teeyan Da Mela.

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