Devotional Obama

Here are two Obama tunes to get you humming as you drink your Sunday morning coffee or chai.

We’ve blogged here about Bollywood Obama and I’ve written about the Japanese town of Obama’s boppy theme song “Obama is beautiful world.” Now, a couple of young musicians in Surat–Chirag Thakker, Jayesh Gandhi and Anita Sharma–have welcomed Obama into their hearts with this catchy song that praises our new president.

We have dedicated this song to Obama and uploaded it on Youtube, so that the world could see our attempts to honor him. His down-to-earth personality, faith in Lord Ganesha and great respect for Mahatma Gandhi made us feel that he is very close to us,” said Chirag, adding that they have used names of Lord Ganesha and Gandhi in the song. [full story]

The song has elements of a bhajan (the lyrics have devotionalism), but also features the djembe, which the artists chose to include in honor of Obama’s African heritage! The video is granted, a bit amateur, but it also has subtitles (so that Obama can understand it) and was shot in various parts of Surat, including the banks of the Tapi river and the city’s municipal gardens. Overall, the three artists devoted three months to it from start to finish.

I was going to wrap up this entry, but then found this Punjabi poem by California based poet and singer Pashaura Singh Dhillon. I was moved. But then again, I get weepy pretty easily these days.

28 thoughts on “Devotional Obama

  1. But then again, I get weepy pretty easily these days.

    i could be wrong, but i smell a desi auntie alert :)

  2. Although I am happy that Obama won, there is something really disturbingt about this. Indians are unsurpassed when it comes to panegyrics. The Tamil counterparts of these dudes are the type that flambe themselves whenever Jayalalitha gets a head cold or looks a bit wan

  3. That Obama Obama is a great song :-) Notice at the end in the credits there is a name mentioned and in parenthesis says “Gujarati Shakira” :-) Thats interesting and intriguing !!! Great job, composers !!!

  4. Bizarre.

    Why does the whole world think Obama is gonna change the system just because he’s tawny?

    He plans to bomb Afghani/Pakistani rural areas (where civilions young and old live, hope, breath and love) to smithereens.

    In fact he already started!

    Same old, same old. And the chakra turns…….

  5. 3 · louiecypher said

    Although I am happy that Obama won, there is something really disturbingt about this. Indians are unsurpassed when it comes to panegyrics. The Tamil counterparts of these dudes are the type that flambe themselves whenever Jayalalitha gets a head cold or looks a bit wan

    awww, don’t be disturbed. everyone’s excited about o’bama, specially the irish!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EADUQWKoVek

  6. While I don’t think Obama is necessarily going to change the world, there’s something wonderful about the fact that people are so touched by him. Every nation wishes they had an Obama, and I know India is no different. Over the past few months, I’ve read a few editorials that ask questions like “Where is India’s Obama?” or “If Obama were an Indian, what would he do? What would his inaugural speech say?”, etc. (This is all paraphrased, of course). I think India’s Obama adulation especially makes sense when you think of how Indian politics is mired in corruption, decay and complete impotency. The last figure who truly unified and electrified the country was Nehru, and we’ve had a long, sorry procession of undeserving prime ministers since then.

    Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. There’s also the fact that he is highly charismatic, brown-skinned, and has to fix 2 wars and a financial meltdown, etc etc.

    I still think there’s something epic about those two songs. I wonder if Obama will even ever learn of them?

  7. Fix two wars?

    Last I heard, he’s talking of going into Pakistan.

    Hitler gave good speeches, too.

  8. When I was a very young boy in Chandigarh, Shiv Kumar Batalvi would visit. And once in a while, he’d recite verse. Listening to Dhillon, I was reminded of Batalvi’s immortal “Ik kurhi jedda naam mohabbat, gum hai, gum hai, gum hai”. Amazing how language can transport – even one I don’t use from day to day – in this case over 10,000 miles and nearly forty years!

  9. is anyone else, tired of all this obama worship?

    Yes. Even watching the Super Bowl today, his name came up so many times I thought that he was playing today.

  10. I think P. Singh Dillon should be the Poet Laureate. Both songs/poems are great.

    But in all fairness, maybe some talented poet should make a tribute or song or compose a poem for Bush/Dick Cheney or McCain to appease all those who oppose Obama.

  11. But in all fairness, maybe some talented poet should make a tribute or song or compose a poem for Bush/Dick Cheney or McCain to appease all those who oppose Obama.

    We reject as false that a song praising GW Bush ought to accompany every song praising Obama.

  12. 12 · Suki Dillon said

    is anyone else, tired of all this obama worship?

    Personally speaking, up until this point, politics have been somewhat depressing for me.. Bush, Bush, and bleh. Now, I know Obama is NOT perfect, and I don’t agree with everything he does (Like his staunch support of Israel, even when it is obvious they are committing human rights violations (Not saying that Hamas isn’t.. but no one seems to be on the side of the innocent Palestinians).. actually, I really had a lot of inner dialogue as to whether I should vote for him, or continue my objections to the two party system by going Green or something.

    But I DID vote for him, and I have to say, while I don’t agree with everything, he really is making SOME good changes, (i.e. closing Guantanamo Bay, making laws against using torture against prisoners, etc) that are at least a step in the right direction. It is nice to see our President making executive orders to PROTECT human rights in the world, rather than finding ways to pretend they are not happening.

    In that way, he does bring me hope. Before, when I lived in India, I would feel ashamed to say I was from the U.S., and the discuss would always have to involve “well, I didn’t vote for Bush, and I don’t like him either!”. The U.S. is far from perfect now.. but at least… at least I feel like we are taking steps in the right direction….

  13. (I was just being sarcastic about how someone should make a poet honoring Bush/Cheney.)

    The Latino voters also have a catchy & inspirational song to honor Obama (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iCJY8bFUtU&feature=related). Can’t get that tune out my head now.

    There are lots of eloquent speakers and most of them are not Hitlers (in response to comment #10 johnq). Comparing Obama to Hitler is a bit of a stretch. If you really need to find out what the 2 have in common, they both have eyes, a nose, 2 ears, male, etc. (My sarcasm alert is at the orange level right now.)

  14. I really like both of these songs. As a Pakistani-American and a concerned South Asian, I’m not terribly fond of his Pakistan policy. I wish he didn’t feel the need to continue the drone attacks in the tribal areas, but I guess some things about US foreign policy stay the same whether the president is a democrat or republican. I hope that some time during his term he does fulfill his promise to help come to an equitable settlement of the Kashmir issue, but again realpolitik might keep that from happening. That said, thank God Bush is gone:)

  15. Not to nitpick, but the djembe is west African. Obama’s pops was Kenyan. When will people stop Palin-izing Africa?

  16. :is anyone else, tired of all this obama worship?

    Yes. I dont care about the real american passport holders eligible to vote in american election worshipping obama – hey, its their president. But why the heck are desis so crazy about the american president? Just because you work in a call center and eat a maharajah mac does not mean that you have to abandon your politics.

    Kids painting their faces with American flag over obama election, kids holding processions with obama masks in Chandigarh, that sand artist going a ga over obama…

    We are a nation of contradictions and hypocrisy, right? We elect to office the corrupt, the criminals, the 3rd-standard failed goons (we are a democracy with elected leaders so we put the Indian politicians there, do not act as if you had no hand in their coming to power) and then sing praises to the scholar obama getting elected in USA. We rally behind a Sonia Gandhi as our leader as if no native born one in our 1+ billion is good enough to lead us, then shout for obama in USA where only native borns can become prez. We cannot rally behind a squeaky-clean Kalam as president for a second term and spare him from Sonia’s dirty politics and then wonder when we will have our own obama, without realising that we alredy had ours, only we decided to let them go. We are so happy about a black (actually a half black who was brought up white, hardly representative of the real black experience in the country) became American president, conveniently forgetting that someone from an ‘untouchable caste (who even now get beaten up in som states in India routinely) already became the Indian President sometime back, with KR Narayanan (yeah, he too went on to get a great education very much because of his own merit..) We ignore the fact that several times have women held the most powerful office in our own country and routinely do that in several states as well.

    But no, America’s social advancements are more notice-worthy and praise-worthy. A teleprompter-savvy Obama whose speeches are written by a 23 year old white kid, making any perceived heart-felt sincerity in them to Obama’s life experience only as real as a stage managed realty show is much better than our VajPayee whose Hindi speeches were eloquent and poetic, and coming directly from his own mind, that of a published poet and writer.

    No, for us, what’s desi will always be second rate. We will scour the world looking for things to worship, and will worship them as long as they are not indian.

    So yes, i am a bit tired of all this Indian obama worship.

  17. But then again, I get weepy pretty easily these days.

    heh :-) Ditto, here, Sandhya. Maybe, it is the memories of being called a N***** back when I was a FOTB desi doing my MS grad studies. And this was not just in the mid-west, but also in liberal Cal, here in the heart of Silicon Valley. Yup, being called a raghead N***** in a VTA was not uncommon, strange though it may seen to folks now. And this was not the 60s, but the early 90s. The symbolism of Obama seems too much to handle and I tear up quite easily. -)

  18. 19 · oruvan said

    But no, America’s social advancements are more notice-worthy and praise-worthy. A teleprompter-savvy Obama whose speeches are written by a 23 year old white kid, making any perceived heart-felt sincerity in them to Obama’s life experience only as real as a stage managed realty show is much better than our VajPayee whose Hindi speeches were eloquent and poetic, and coming directly from his own mind, that of a published poet and writer. No, for us, what’s desi will always be second rate. We will scour the world looking for things to worship, and will worship them as long as they are not indian. So yes, i am a bit tired of all this *Indian* obama worship.

    um the speech writer is a 27 year old guy actually and not 23 but nonetheless he has a very hot gf – hehehe just had to add a little humor but apart from that, I really admire Obama and everything but to see these gujju kids singing a stupid song to praise the guy when i bet they probably don’t know anything about his policies, instead of trying to sing something to praise their own country is plain ol’ stupid. Obama has inspired a generation, i agree but this song is seriously taking it too far and while he might actually do something to change this downward spiral of the economy, i doubt he can ever be compared to Gandhi…. And one last thing, why do we as indians always try to find the indian inspiration or indian connection for everything, e.g- slumdog but i won’t get into that..anyhow Obama might have a “hanuman” pendant, does not mean he is great believer and or prays to Hanuman regularly or anything. Its just a lucky charm like ppl have 4 leaf clovers or rabit’s foot..I swear these kids need to make a song about Indian leaders who will do something about their country rather then looking at Obama and praising him who will never have a direct impact on them..

  19. 6 · spare me said

    is anyone else, tired of all this obama worship?

    not me. i’m with beyonce; like totally still into this obama thing. now, unlike most obamamaniacs, i thought the great land of opportunity was ready for a black prez, but maybe i’m a little like that sartre chaarcter out of huis clos who demended the door open, acting fully confident that it would, but when it actually did he was all like wtf!!???

    i’m especially thrilled at gates at secdef, clinton at state, and larry summers was a clear slap to the pc crowd. he’s not only abandoned raising taxes but is now lowering them. swoon. nuanced torture, even better. exactly the post-ideological, post partisn politics he promised.

    now, the self-created obama with his affected blaccent and eveything clearly has a problematic relationship with social constructionism. he’s long sounded much more like bill cosby than tim wise on the pulpit. a doorman told me he could die now b/c he’s seen the holy trinity: king, mandela, and obama. i think its no exaggeration that that is the company obama keeps right now within the af-am community. in order for the bond to break he’s going to have to be found in bed with an ugly white boy. in short,i predict a massive right wing shift among black americans as they abandon the “you can’t succeed” left. progressives, who have embraced race since their class based politics ended up committng holocaust after holocaust, are about to see their natural base disappear.

    in this sense, obama is a man of his time, //ing the rise of india and china: poc abandoning socialism and embracing the weberian thesis. of course, there’s the protectionist problem, as vinod points out, but i’m fairly certian that was just a classic southern strategy on obama’s part: part of his ruse to win hillary’s “white hard working americans.” he doesn’t really mean it,as Canada knows, and those measures will disappear form the final bill. anyway, what’s a little racism among friends.

  20. Not to nitpick, but the djembe is west African. Obama’s pops was Kenyan.

    I hear you. I thought the same thing when I saw the artists point out the African connection in their song. But, well, I’m willing to cut them some slack for trying. I suppose they should have emphasized the guitar since that is more popular in Kenyan music.

    Whether or not I’ve personally had my fill of odes to Obama (I think I’m getting pretty close to the tipping point), I can’t help but remain fascinated by the worldwide responses to the idea of his leadership. The way I look at it, for a long time, I felt like people were looking around and saying, “I don’t see a world leader I feel good about” and now, there’s a spirit of optimism and a person who represents possibility that is inspiring art, music, and perhaps, even, action. That’s a good thing, even if it isn’t clear right now whether he’ll live up to all his promises.

    I think what struck me about both these pieces was the common thread of devotionalism — and the trace of hindu syncretism to claim him as “one of our own” by annointing him a follower of Hanuman, just as we have seen Hindus claim Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu.

  21. 21 · rain_maiden said

    I swear these kids need to make a song about Indian leaders who will do something about their country rather then looking at Obama and praising him who will never have a direct impact on them..
    1. Which indian political leader today deserves the love that Obama is receiving? India hasn’t produced a single leader in 6 decades of independence who has a fraction of the charisma, intelligence, vision, broadmindedness and desire to do good that Obama has.

    2. Obama stunning rise to power represents a paradigm shift, a change in global consciousness that is having an impact on the entire world including India.

    1. Which indian political leader today deserves the love that Obama is receiving? India hasn’t produced a single leader in 6 decades of independence who has a fraction of the charisma, intelligence, vision, broadmindedness and desire to do good that Obama has.

    oh please. If you are not an american-born, I find this attitude pathetic. There have been plenty of leaders in India who have received more and much more love and adulation than Obama might ever receive. As for your comments about Obama’s charisma vision etc etc, let me ask this – who had heard about this Obama guy say five years back? He has promised a lot, rather his speechwriter and PR team has, and has done little on a national scale before this. Now, He has had the advantage of being preceded by someone whose popularity was not quite stellar or was not much of a scholar. Now, let this Obama prez make good on some of his promises, then we will see. So far his picks for key posts and some decisions have not inspired a lot of confidence in his ability to translate his words into action. Talk is cheap, you know. When Rajiv Gandhi got elected as PM, there was the same feeling in India – young handsome PM, lot of fresh ideas, fresh face, a new energy for the nation, charisma/intelligence all that stuff you mentioned – look where all that went after a few years. So, let’s see. So far Obama’s main advantages have been the ineptitude of his opponents, a good speechwriter, and an ability to read from a teleprompter without making it look like that. Let’s see how much remains after the honeymoon is over.

    1. Obama stunning rise to power represents a paradigm shift, a change in global consciousness that is having an impact on the entire world including India.

    Please. Desis these days will chant for anything connected with America. Let’s see how much of this new adulation remains after he takes another look at all the outsourcing and H1B visas.

    As I said, if an American is misty-eyed about Obama, fine, he is probably the first leader after a while in the country to at least sound like a good one. After all, one could only wonder if they were scraping at the bottom of the barrel when one saw Ms. Palin being brought forward as a possible VP candidate. However, I still cannot understand how a desi still holding his Indian passport and therefore quite an outsider to the American democratic process, is going all glassy-eyed over Obama.

    you can worship Obama all you want, just dont make up stories about the rest of the world to make it look like the relative newbie obama is something like an ultimate political figure.

  22. Looks like the desi Obama haters (aka the greed and hate crowd) are out in force though I am sure they are a minority among desis just as they are a minority (20%) among americans.

    FYI haters, Obama mostly writes his own speeches which are better than any president’s since Abe Lincoln. His cabinet picks are being lauded even by Republicans as he is not going hardcore lefty, and is hiring on merit. In just his first 2 weeks as president he has already banned torture, ordered the closing of Guantanamo, made equal pay for equal work the law, is putting a cap on the salaries of wall street CEOs etc.

  23. is anyone else, tired of all this obama worship?

    you know. when the republicans are engaging in taliban worship, i’d much rather go with the alternative. it is time these religious fundamentalists recognized the similarities between themselves.