Place of Origin: Meghalaya
Who needs the blues guitar when you have the Duitara? The stories of the duitara go the same way as those of so many other folk music instruments. They generally run on the lines of, “Only when one has felt the depths of sadness, can one play the duitara.”
The Duitara is so poorly documented that I could find only four videos containing the instrument on YouTube and one on Vimeo. Even the Wikipedia page on the music of Meghalaya mentions a couple of rock bands but there is no mention of the duitara.
The Duitara is an important musical instrument of the Khasis and Jaintias of Meghalaya. It is a plucked string instrument, similar to a guitar. It is made of hard wood and is played with a wooden pick. It has four holes at its end, fixed with wooden pegs to hold the string in tune. The body of the Duitara is covered with animal skin.
Here is a video of Bah Kerios Wahlang, a duitara master, singing about the music he loves. Here is an excerpt of the song translated from the original Khasi. It perfectly sums up what this music and the duitara means to the person playing it.
It’s as old as time
And it will last beyond the 4 seasons
It springs from the depths of the Earth
It flows from the heart of the Duitara
You can hear it’s echo in nature
Feel it soar from within the Duitara
It seeps into the veins
It moves into the soul
Here’s another one by Kong Bathimai, a vegetable vendor by profession and an amazing duitara player and singer by passion.