Punjabi theka is a common tal of 16 beats. Some suggest that it is not really a separate tal, but is merely a prakar of tintal. There are different views as to its name. Some call it Punjabi theka and others call it sitarkhani.
Vocalists usually refer to this as punjabi theka; presumably, at some time in the past, this was a variation of tintal that was popularised by musicians from the Punjab. The Punjab is a border area between Pakistan and India. Lahore and Amritsar are two important cities in the Punjab.
Instrumentalists tend to call this tal sitarkhani. Presumably, this is a corruption from the phrase "Siddhar-Khan-e-theka" which literally translates to "Siddhar Khan's Groove". Siddhar Khan was a great musician who is sometimes credited with the invention of the tabla. In spite of the name, there seems to be no evidence that Siddhar Khan ever played this theka. (Still absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.)
Sitarkhani has a very distinctive movement. It is just tintal where the two Dhins in the middle of each measure (vibhag) have been replaced by a single Dhin that rests on the off-beat. It is this distinctive syncopation that gives this tal its pleasant effect.
Sitarkhani's (punjabi theka) characteristics are shown below:
clap, 2, 3, 4, clap, 2, 3, 4, wave, 2, 3, 4, clap, 2, 3, 4
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