by Aruna Kamath
When you’re trying to calm a cranky baby and nothing works, try singing one of your favourite lullabies. The gentle swaying and soft music can work like magic to soothe your baby instantly.
For centuries, mothers and caregivers have been singing their babies to sleep. Music not only elevates a caregiver’s mood, but also has a powerful affect on babies. More importantly, it helps establish a strong bond between you and baby.
And the best part is, you don’t have to be a pro or have a great voice to sing. It doesn’t even matter if you’re singing a tuneless song or lack melody, or mix up the lyrics – the sound of your voice is enough to calm and soothe baby.
I can vouch for this myself. My elder daughter suffered from nasty colic bouts as a baby. To calm her down, I used to snuggle her up against my shoulder and sway her to a traditional Indian lullaby that my mother used to sing for me as a child. Her loud painful cries reduced to a whimper in no time! Believe me, lullabies can be singing to baby can an hypnotizing effect and help baby sleep longer.
Both my daughters have grown up with music since they were born. I too am a great music buff, and grew up listening to music from stalwarts of Carnatic music. Though I enjoy anything that is pleasing to the ears – I particularly love short devotional songs (bhajans) and tracks from Indian movies. My elder daughter was a great fan of a Ram bhajan and a traditional lullaby based on Sri Krishna. While my second daughter’s favourite tune was a beautiful lullaby called “Laali Laali” from the Telugu hit movie Swati Muthyam. Even though I didn’t know the lyrics of the entire song, I used to hum and fill in the blanks.
Even now, as teenagers, my daughters ask me to sing for them. When I do – after much coaxing and reluctance – they break into peals of laughter. Not to mention, an over-pouring of criticisms that follow – about my voice, melody, tune, pronunciations et al!
Have you tried singing to your baby? If you haven’t, it’s never too late. It’s a good idea to learn and memorize a few lullabies. For starters, here are a few of my favourite picks – some of the most melodious songs composed in Indian movies (mostly south Indian and Bollywood). Most of these are songs of parental reassurance, meant to give kids a sense of peace and security when they go to sleep. Listen to them and enjoy!
LULLABIES FROM HINDI MOVIES
Chandaa Hai Tu, Mera Suraj Hai Tu (Aradhana -1969)
This old Hindi classic song from the blockbuster movie “Aradhana” is in the melodious voice of Latha Mangeshkar. In this lively song, the mother sings of her aspirations and hopes she has for her son.
Bada Natkhat Tu (Amar Prem -1972)
This is another of my favourites, again sung by the queen of melodies – Latha Mangeshkar. The song, from the movie “Amar Prem” is picturised on a mother chasing a playful child and chiding him lovingly.
Nanhi Kali Soni Chali (Sujata -1959)
This is an immortal lullaby in the lilting voice of Geetha Dutt. This beautiful songs brings out the tender parental love in the soothing voice of the singer. An abandoned child lies in the neighbouring room and the mother sings to her own as well as the other child ‘good night’. This act will one day save her life!
Chanda Re Chanda Re (Lajwanti -1959)
Main Gaoon Tum So Jao (Brahmachaari – 1968)
Chanda Mama Door Ke (Vachan – 1955)
LULLABIES FROM TAMIL MOVIES
This is an evergreen lullaby that I never tire of hearing. I used to often hum this tune to my babies while putting them to bed. Incidentally, this song is picturised on two grownups where the man sings the lullaby to the woman who is suffering from retrograde amnesia and behaving like a child.
LULLABIES FROM TELUGU MOVIES
LULLABIES FROM MALAYALAM MOVIES
Omanathinkal Kidavo (Postman, 1967)
Omanathinkal Kidavo is to date, one of the most popular lullabies in the Malayalam language. Composed by Irayimman Thampi to put the baby King Swathi Thirunal to sleep, this lullaby doesn’t mention the word sleep in it even once and the sleep is supposed to be induced by the effect of the Navaroj or Nilambari ragas. This lullaby or tharattu paatu has been featured in a 1967 Malayalam movie – Postman with a soulful rendition by K.J Yesudas and B Vasantha.
Chandanathotillila (Naazhikakkallu, 1970)
The situation of the song is that of a mother asking her child to fall asleep, though she does not have a cradle made of sandalwood for him. She tells her that the birds are singing lullabies and the stars are sleeping in the lap of the clouds, even though there are no bright lamps or lotus beds, she urges her little one to fall asleep.