What Is Shehnai?

Are you curious to know what is shehnai? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about shehnai in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is shehnai?

What Is Shehnai?

In the rich tapestry of Indian music, the shehnai stands as a unique and cherished instrument. Often described as the “Indian oboe,” the shehnai’s hauntingly beautiful and soul-stirring melodies have captured the hearts of millions for centuries. In this blog, we will explore the history, design, significance, and the enduring charm of the shehnai in the world of Indian music.

The Rich History Of Shehnai

The shehnai has a history that dates back over 500 years. It is believed to have been developed from an ancient Indian instrument called the pungi or been. Shehnai players were traditionally associated with temples and royal courts, where their melodic tunes were believed to have a spiritual and auspicious significance. Over the centuries, the shehnai’s influence expanded from religious and courtly settings to the world of classical and folk music.

Key Features And Design

The shehnai is a wind instrument characterized by its double-reeded design, similar to the oboe. It consists of several key features:

  1. Double Reeds: The shehnai’s unique sound is produced by two reeds that vibrate against each other when the player blows air into the instrument. These reeds are attached to a metal tube, creating the distinctive sound.
  2. Wooden Body: Traditionally, shehnais are crafted from wood, often Indian blackwood (also known as Dalbergia melanoxylon). The wooden body is intricately carved and decorated with ornate designs.
  3. Seven Finger Holes: The shehnai typically has seven finger holes, which the player uses to create different notes and melodies. The placement and size of these holes allow for a wide range of musical expression.

Significance In Indian Culture

The shehnai holds a special place in Indian culture for several reasons:

  1. Wedding Ceremonies: The shehnai is an integral part of Indian weddings. Its melodious tunes are considered auspicious and are often played during the wedding ceremony and processions.
  2. Religious Festivals: Shehnai music is also an integral part of Hindu religious festivals, particularly during temple rituals and processions.
  3. Classical Music: The shehnai is an important instrument in classical Indian music, particularly in the North Indian tradition. It is widely used in both solo and ensemble performances.
  4. Folk Music: In addition to classical music, the shehnai is also an essential instrument in various folk music traditions across India.

Famous Shehnai Players

Several renowned shehnai players have left an indelible mark on the world of Indian music:

  1. Ustad Bismillah Khan: Often considered the “King of Shehnai,” Ustad Bismillah Khan was a legendary musician who popularized the shehnai on the global stage.
  2. Ali Ahmed Hussain: A distinguished shehnai player, Ali Ahmed Hussain is known for his mesmerizing performances and dedication to preserving the classical tradition.
  3. Anant Lal: He was a master shehnai player who contributed significantly to the popularization of the shehnai through his concerts and recordings.


The shehnai’s mellifluous tunes have the power to transport listeners to a different realm. It encapsulates the essence of India’s cultural and musical heritage, adding a touch of mystique and spirituality to various occasions. Whether it’s the joy of a wedding procession or the solemnity of a temple ritual, the shehnai continues to weave its magic, captivating hearts and celebrating the rich tradition of Indian music. It is a testament to the enduring power of music to transcend time and connect people across generations.


What Is The Instrument Of Shehnai?

shehnai, double-reed conical oboe of North India. The shehnai is made of wood, except for a flaring metal bell attached to the bottom of the instrument, and measures about 12–20 inches (30–50 cm) in length, with six to eight keyless finger holes along its body.

Who Invented Shehnai?

Ustad Bismillah Khan (born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title Ustad, was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a reeded woodwind instrument.

How Is Shehnai Played?

A double-reeded instrument, the shehnai’s seven, eight or nine holes are stopped using the ball of the fingers. The last two holes are often left open and used for tuning. Its closest Western equivalent is the oboe.

What Is The Meaning Of Shenai?

(music) An ancient reeded woodwind instrument from India with a long slim body and bulbous sound bowl, with or without keys.

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