Friday, April 17, 2009


Bhawaiya a genre of north Bengal folk song, believed to have originated in RANGPUR and Cooch Bihar, West Bengal, India,. The name of this folk song, generally about love between man and woman, derives from bhava (emotion). Bhawaiya songs, however, may also be spiritual in theme as in 'fande pariya baga kande re' (The heron cries entrapped in a net), 'chhar re man bhaver khela' (O my mind, leave earthly games), etc.
Composed and sung in the main by cart drivers (or gaarhials) are a parallel, obviously, to the Bhatiali songs. Bhawaiya is more prevalent in the dryer northwest of parts of Bengal - where ox-driven carts are more common as transport vehicles than boats. The themes are similar if a little distinct. Here, the cravings of the separated and lonely hearts; metaphorically, often a newly-wed daughter missing her parents (or alternatively her lover) asks for gaarhial bhai's (a common kin=brother) favour to take her message of loneliness to her parents (alternatively to her lover) saying she is fine at her new home but she is terribly missing them (alternatively him). This gaarhial is not unlike the cloud messenger (Meghdoot) depicted in the immortal poetry of famous Indian poet Kalidas.
Bhawaiya may be of two types: one draws out the voice in melancholy notes, while the other has a chatka or skipping tone. The first type is emotional in theme and usually about a young woman's tender feelings of love and separation. Some popular songs on these themes include 'oki gariyal bhai' (Hey, cart-driver), 'je jan premer bhav jane na' (He who does not know the feelings of love), 'kon dyashe jan maishal bandure' (Which country are you off to, oh buffalo rider, my friend?), 'nauton piritir baro jwala' (New love is highly painful), etc.
The fast paced chatka is comic and light. It is about expectations and ambitions, about conflicts between husband and wife as well as about the ups and downs of family life. A few of these songs include 'ore patidhan bari chhariya na yan' (O dear husband, please don't leave home), 'ore kainer myayar thashak beshi/ byaray shali tari tari' (The girl who has a superior gait/ Goes roaming), etc. A third type, called kshirol, is a combination of these two tunes. The two-stringed DOTARA is the main musical accompaniment.
Late Narayan Ray, his wife Sumati Ray, Harimohon Ray, Dinesh Ray, Garjan Dhimal, Sukhobilas Barma, are some contemporary artists. Late Kali Dasgupta collected and worked extensively.
Abbasuddin Ahmed popularised bhawaiya songs. But he is more a urban artist than a community singer.
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