Singing while grinding at dawn is vital on several accounts. First, it is imperative for itself, as an aesthetic pleasure and the accompaniment of a difficult task. Above all, millers’ verses are a work song. Women enthuse straight away and as much over singing as grinding. The joint sustained physical effort, the shared poetic word and the revolution of the millstones merge into one move.
Oh Lord mill, I battle with you
I pull you, stone, to the rhythm of songs.
The bird gives his call to grind on the chariot of Râm
I am engrossed in singing from the early hours of dawn.
I grind the grinding like a bullock on contract
My daughter knows how to sing in a golden voice.
Seated at the mill, my myna* sings verses
My cow-girl Radha wipes the sweat of her body.
The joy and contentment that the work instills overflows in songs of exhilaration. The sparkle of Sukadev (Venus) in particular prompts a frenetic will to be poetic under an intimate spell of the god kept within one’s heart. Seated at the millstone, it is necessary to sing your happiness, says a miller-woman to her companion, at the sight of the brilliance of the star. One goes out to see it while calling her neighbour to get up and sing. Another one thrills, elated:
Venus has risen escorted by the moon
I want to tell my friends my mother’s joy.
(Text by Guy Poitevin)
(*) Myna is a bird able to reproduce sounds, including human speech, when in captivity.