Urdu: Chaiyya Chaiyya

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Au101, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. Au101 Senior Member

    England, English (UK)

    I was listening to the song "Chaiyya Chaiyya", which I am told is from the film "Dil Se" and is an Urdu song. The English translation of the lyrics suggest that "chaiyya" means shadow; however I was unsure, particularly as a Hindi-speaking friend raised doubts. Could somebody please confirm and if at all possible provide the transliteration into the Urdu script.

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  2. BP. Senior Member

    Maybe it relates to the sound of the locomotive train they're on the roof of.
  3. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    I will confess to never having understood most of that song, awesome though it is.

    Funnily, for a long time, I was baffled why he sung "Mera yaar hai jo khushboo ki tarah, jiski zubaa.n Ullu (!) ki tarah"

    It was only when I realised that he was actually saying Urdu that my respect for the song increased :)

    Anyhow, coming to your question. The word Chaiyya Chaiiya means nothing.

    Chhaya = Shade, but that is not the word being used.

    The sound of train is onomatopoeically written has Chhuk Chhuk, so I guess it comes from there.

    The song has been shot on top of a train with Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala.
    Though I would be pleased if the Urdu experts here could make me understand the song. I get most of the words, but the whole thing makes no sense.
  4. musicalchef

    musicalchef Senior Member

    English; USA
    A Hindi/Urdu-speaking friend once told me it's the sound of the ankle bracelets that dancers wear. You can hear those in the song as well.
  5. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    Normally, that sound is represented as Chan Chan (that of the ghungroo, which are present in the payal). But, that actually sounds more logical to me.

    Thanks musicalchef
  6. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    The song was composed by A.R. Rahman so we could contact his office to find out this really means! In the meantime, I found this article.

    Here it says:

    <Hindi: चैंय्या चैंय्या, Urdu: چیّا چیّا, "[walk] in the shadow">

    Apparently, the song has a Sufi inspiration – from the poetry of Bulleh Shah.

    I've never heard the full song nor do I know its wordings.

  7. bakshink Senior Member

    Dear Friends
    Chal Chhainyaan. Chhainyaan -- means Chhaya …..walk in the shade of (Love). Now with new meaning of Chhainyaan, I hope some of you will like to know the lyrics of the whole song… they are indeed beautiful…

    Dear Illuminatus... Had the lyricist written "Hindi' in place of Urdu would you have loved the song a little less or would it have been less beautiful. Ask a Bengali about Bengali and for that matter the lilting sweet nothings spoken to us by our mothers in our mother tongues are probably the best words ever heard by us. A poet loves rhyme and there's a lot of non-sequitur and onomatopoia in love but none here.
    Dear Faylasoof- Mr. Rehman has not composed the song but has given the music. The lyrics are by Gulzar. Mr. Rehman is Tamilian by birth and can hardly read/write/understand Hindi/Urdu

    Here's the song and how I interpret it

    Walk in the shade of love from the beginning of it
    Those who are blessed by love, have heaven under their feet

    jinke sar ho ishk kee chhanv, panv ke niche jannat hogee
    jinke sar ho ishk kee chhanv

    chal chhaniya chhaniya chhainya chhainya, chhaniya chhainya chhainya chhainya
    chal chhainya chhainya chhainya.............

    Moderator's note
    Song lyrics and verse may be quoted and translated, up to a maximum of 4 lines.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2009
  8. BP. Senior Member

    Quiet unnecessary, this tirade. I think he meant the word 'Urdu' was a massive upgrade from what he first took it to be: 'ullu'. Modern commercial songs are getting notorious for using random words just because they rhyme (among other linguistic vices).

    "... jiski zubaa.n Ullu (!) ki tarah"
    That had me laughing out loud! Thanks.
    (for those who don't understand the language, it means '(my lover) speaks like an owl'!)

    I listened to the song, they're saying chhayyaa.n chayyaa.n (not chayya chayya), and the percussions too emulate the rhythmic sound of metallic wheels on a rail, so I still think the reference is onomatopoeic. They're atop a train too.
  9. bakshink Senior Member

    Dear BP Ji
    Paon jalein to chale chal chhainyan Chainyaan Chainyaan.. From this line you can be sure the word means Chhaya/Shade or waise bhi Ishak ki Chhaya to ttheek hai par Chhan Chhan nahi or else we can ask Gulzar

    Sorry! I missed the Ullu part in Illuminatus'es mail and have not tried to convey that he's slighted one language and praised another but that love for the language for a common man is partly because of his association to the people who speak it but the writer loves his art more than the language or so should he do... while composing he shouldn't put restrictions on his art- So I think
  10. bakshink Senior Member

    And Chhainyaan is also a Hindi word for Chhaon which means shade- Dhoop Chhaon was a name of one movie... and here it rhymes with Sainyaan
  11. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    A.R.Rehman can, in fact, speak/read/write Hindi and Urdu.

    I had always misunderstood the chorus of the song too. I never understood where the pronunciation <chaiyā> came from, but it does indeed sound onomatopoetic.
  12. bakshink Senior Member

    Dear Panajbigator. Have you heard him speak Hindi/Urdu and seen him having written anything in these languages- frankly I haven't and as far as I know- he can't do either. In all interviews on Hindi Channels- he chooses to speak in English even when others with little knowledge of these languages struggle to form broken sentences keeping in view the audience
  13. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Having for the first time heard the song, the poetry does across as being quite beautiful. As I don’t know too well the poems of Bulleh Shah, these verses remind me of Khusrau.

    Regarding bakshink’s query (earlier in red before the moderator’s action), I had a quick listen. The words are:

    yaar misaal e os chale, paao.n ke tale firdaus chale

    یار مثالِ اوس چلے، پاؤں كے تلے فِردَوس چلے

    My love walks like dew, Paradise* moves beneath her feet


    My love glides like dew, Heaven moves beneath her feet

    [* The Arabic word <firdaus فِردَوس > and its English equivalent, paradise, come from the Old Persian <paradaiza>= a walled garden.]

    Gulzar is describing the grace, beauty and nobility of the beloved. He is saying that the beloved walks as if gliding on dew and wherever she puts her feet, that spot is Heaven / Paradise (firdaus فِردَوس).

    This imagery is a little unusual; in fact, it is closer to a traditional idea we are meant to have about our mothers who, together with our fathers, we are meant to respect and adulate.

    According to a saying of our Prophet, heaven is at the feet of the mother. This was meant to elevate the status of mothers in particular and women in general. Accordingly, two of Lucknow’s most well-known Urdu poets, Mirza Dabeer and Mir Anees, composed these:

    زیرِ قدمِ والِدہ فردوسِ بریں ہے

    (zer e qadam e vaalidah firdaus e bari.n hai)

    (Dabeer دبیر)

    كھتے ہیں كہ ماں كے پاؤں كے نیچے بہشت ہے

    (kahte hai.n keh maa.n ke pao.n ke niiche behisht hai )

    - (Anees أنیس)

    [In idiomatic English: Heaven lies beneath the feet of mothers]

    BTW, if indeed we had <jiskii zabaa.n ‘ullu kii tarah>, as Illuminatis first thought, instead of < jiskii zabaa.n Urdu kii tarah >, then perhaps it would have been greatly appreciated by the likes of Ancient Greeks!

    It is interesting to note how different cultures have different ideas about the humble <’ullu = owl>. It symbolised wisdom for the Ancient Greeks, esp. the Athenians whose city symbol it was. Also, in English we say: wise as an owl / a wise owl; taken as a compliment of course.

    We, on the other hand have quite a negative view of this otherwise cute bird with a melancholic, even melodious voice. I’m a great admirer of ’ullus – a bird much underrated in our culture and very unfairly so!
  14. Au101 Senior Member

    England, English (UK)
    Thank you very much to all who have contibuted and I now understand much better the lyrics of one of my favourite songs.
  15. bakshink Senior Member

    Dear Faylasoof
    Thank you very much for catching the line that eluded me, right and explaining the meaning of it. And also thanks for speaking some good words for poor Ullu- who doesn't know so much is being said and felt about it
  16. omlick Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon, USA
    American English
    I took the liberty to copy the translation from the bollywhat.com forum:

    by the way, the dancer in this sangeet is NOT Manisha, but a famous dancer in BW.

    Rahman composes the music, but I doubt if he writes that many lyrics. Gulzar was the lyricist for this film.

    You can of course watch the video on Youtube if you don't have it on a Sharukh DVD or the movie Dil Se itself.


    chal chhaiyya Walk in the shadow.
    ao.n jannat chale chal chhaiyyan Walk in heaven, walk in the shadow.
    vo yaar hai jo khushbuu kii tarah
    There's a friend who is like a sweet fragrance,
    vo yaar mera saiyya saiyyaThat friend is my beloved!

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2010
  17. Koozagar Senior Member

    Would just like to add that the Gulzar compose this in the 'zameen' of Baba Bulley Shah's
    Tere Ishq Nachaya kar thayyaN thayyaN

    chayyan =shadow does make complete sense in the overall theme of the song. Gulzar does this a lot, as with Zihal-e-Miskin from Khusro that he rendered into the song for film Qurbani.
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Bakshink SaaHib, I agree wholeheartedly with you but on this occasion (IMHO) Gulzar has diliberately used the word "Urdu" because of his deep love for the language. This is a well known fact. His "Ghalib" TV serial is a testimony to this. Here is a short quote from an article on the net.

    Born in Dina (now in Pakistan), a part of Jhelum district in 1934, Gulzar imbibed his love for Urdu and poetry from Delhi's United Christian School, where Urdu was the medium of instruction till Independence.

  19. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I think the main purpose was onomatopoeic, that is, the train's chhuk chhuk has a lot to do with the chhaiya chhaiya here; that it also serves the double meaning of "shade" with only a little bit of extension of imagination is great for the poet.

    Well, just as a correction though not too pertinent to the immediate discussion, I think Zihal-e-Miskin was adapted by Gulzar for the brilliant Dharmendra film "Ghulami".
  20. omlick Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon, USA
    American English

    Here is the translation to English:

    jinke sar ho ishq kii chha.nh He whose head is in the shadow of love
    pao.n ke niiche jannat hogi will have heaven beneath his feet.
    jinke sar ho ishq ki chha.nh Whose head is in the shadow of love...
    chal chhaiyya Walk in the shadow.
    pao.n jannat chale chal chhaiyyan Walk in heaven, walk in the shadow.
    vo yaar hai jo khushbuu kii tarah There's a friend who is like a sweet fragrance,
    jiskii zabaan Urdu kii tarah whose words are like poetry (lit. Urdu, the language of poetry),
    merii shaam raat merii qainaat who is my evening, my night, my existence.
    vo yaar mera saiyya saiyya That friend is my beloved!
    gulposh kabhii itarae kahii.n Sometimes (my beloved) flirts like a flower,
    mahake to nazar aa jaa'e kahii.n so fragrantly that you may see her scent.
    taawiiz banake pahanuu.n use Having made it into an charm, I will wear it.
    aayat kii tarah mil jaaye kahin She shall be obtained as a miracle is obtained.
    mera nagama vahii.n mera qalama vahii.n She is my song, my declaration of faith (kalama: the Muslim confession of faith, as in, "la ilaaha il allaah" - "there is no God but Allah").
    (vo yaar hai jo imaam ki tarah) (My friend is like a priest to me.)
    mera nagama nagama mera qalama qalama My song... my declaration of faith...
    yaar misale.n os chale She moves like the dew.
    paon ke tale phirdaus chale She walks with the garden of heaven beneath her feet,
    kabhii Daal Daal kabhii paat paat sometimes through the branches, sometimes amidst the leaves.
    mai.n hawa pe DHuu.nDHuu.n us ke nishaan I shall search the wind for her trail!
    mai.n uske ruup ka sedaaii I trade in her beauty.
    vo dhuup chhaa.nho.n sa harjaaii Fickle, she flits shamelessly from sun to shade.
    vo shokh ra.ng badalta hai She changes her bright colors;
    mai.n ra.ng ruup ka saudaaii I negotiate that as well.

    From Bollywhat.com

    Also, the lady who is dancing with SRK in that video is NOT Manisha, but she is an item number, a famous BW dancer.
  21. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    But Bollywhat.com need not be a competent authority for translations!
  22. Machlii5 Senior Member

    So the ultimate authority should be Gulzar SaaHib - does anyone know how to contact him?
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  23. Almaas New Member

    seems like you guys already had a thread about this, amazing:

    could anyone tell me how the fir
    st line of the song is written in urdu script?

    s line 'jinke sar hi ishq ki chaaon, paoon ke niiche janat hogi'

  24. Koozagar Senior Member

    جن کے سر ہو عشق کی چھاؤں پاؤں کی نیچے جنّت ہو گی
  25. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Pardon my intrusion but it should be کے نیچے. As we know from the other thread, this person intends to get himself/herself a tattoo with this text, so the accuracy is crucial.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  26. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I agree that the chorus of this song has its basis on Baba Bulley Shah's kalaam.

    Just returning to the word "chhaiyyaaN". As others have said, it is a derivation of the word "chhaa'oN" (chhaaNv). It is worth noting that the same process takes place with the word paa'oN/paaNv which ends up as "paiyyaaN". You may recall the song, "mat jaiyyo naukariyaa chhoR kar, tore paiyyaaN paRuuN baalamaa".

    So in "chal chhaiyyaaN chhiyaaN..." the word "chhaiyyaaN" is being used adverbially (in the locative) meaning, as has already been explained..

    Walk along in the shade..

    This usage reminds me of a traditional Punjabi song..

    saRke saRke jaandiye muTiyaare nii
    kanDaa chubhaa tere pair baaNkiye naare nii

    where "saRke saRke" means "along the road".
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  27. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thank QP saahab, for paiyyanN linkage to paa'oN, and therefore, chhaiyyaaN to chhaa'oN. Very interesting. paiyyaaN is indeed used in Urdu to at least refer to little feet. I have exclusively heard it when referencing a toddler walking. In which case case the common usage is paiyyaaN paiyyaaN.

    Also thanks for the chhaaNv and paaNv spelling references. It's not uncommon to find these in older books and manuscripts, even in Urdu script, as چھانوْ and پانوْ
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  28. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    You are welcome UM SaaHib. Another word rhyming with chhaiyyaaN and paiyyaaN in this particular song is saiyyaaN which is invariably linked to Punjabi. However, it is listed in Platts and my guess is that it is connected with "saa'iiN"/"saaNiiN", also listed in Platts.

    Re: chhaaNv, paaNv etc, you are indeed right. There is a Ghalib Ghazal with the radiif paaNv

    dhotaa huuN jab maiN piine ko us siim-tan ke paaNv
    rakhtaa hai zid se kheNch ke baahar lagan ke paaNv

    What beautiful wordplay!
  29. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Indeed, "paiyyaaN paiyyaaN" is a very well-used expression in Hindi as well. As for "saiyyaaN", the word has been used in countless Hindi songs (Shamshad Begum's lovely song "saiyyaaN dil meiN aanaa re, aa ke phir naa jaanaa re" as an example).
    We also refer to cows lovingly as "gaiyyaaN" (from "gaae", cow); and if we remove the nasal, then the list of words increases by a huge number, including an interjection used by many people (including Manisha Koirala in Bombay): daiyyaa daiyyaa.

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