As Punjab readies to vote in the last phase of national elections on May 19, the election commission has been holding intense awareness campaign to ensure maximum voter turnout. A young dhol player from Punjab, a first time voter herself, also has a message for the youngest voters in the state.
Jahan Geet Deol, 18, pursuing a degree in law from the Panjab University, came to the limelight a few years ago when she started playing dhol. She was just 14 at that time and probably the youngest female dhol player in the state.
Sending a message to all the young voters, she says: "I am a first time voter and all the first time voters have a big responsibility on their shoulders to choose a representative of their choice. The blue mark on your index finger will decide your future... whether you complain or stay happy." More than 130 million first time voters across the country are eligible to cast their vote this time.
Dhol holds great cultural significance in the northern state. "The sound of dhol carried the message during the Mughal invasions. It was considered auspicious and was played to announce the birth of a child, celebrate a wedding or some other event in the family. The instrument is the pride of Punjabi folklore and culture," says the 18-year-old.
Breaking a glass ceiling by picking up dhol, a musical instrument usually played by the men, Jahan Geet has very strong views about the state of politics and the ongoing general elections. "Youth are blindly following the politicians without going into the merits of the candidates. Even if my father asks me who should I choose as my leader, I won't disclose this to him. We should open our eyes and choose wisely. We should analyse whether the candidate in the fray is beneficial to me individually or he is going to serve the natio in the long run," she says.
And for politicians, she has a final message. "The day I realise that the voices of girls have been heard and the policies meant for them have been implemented, we will celebrate democracy on the beats of my dhol," she sums up.