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Bhawaiya (Bengali: ভাওয়াইয়া) is a musical form or a popular folk music in Northern Bangladesh, especially Rangpur District and in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, part of Darjeeling and North Dinajpur district of West Bengal and Dhubri and Goalpara of Assam in India. These area were covered by Kamtapur state and so for the song also Kamtapuri language is used. This folk song is sung traditionally both solo and by chorus.

Origin of the name Bhawaiya[edit]

There are various viewpoint regarding the meaning of Bhawaiya. Low lying land with shrub and other vegetable are called Bhawa. Buffalo keepers used to sing this song while ploughing. Hence the name Bhawaiya came to exist. According to some other researcher Bhawaiya is derived from the word Bawaiya which is subsequently derived from the word bao (breeze). The derivative of the word Bhawaiya is Bhav > Bhao + Iya = Bhawaiya. So the derivative meaning of this word is emotionally charged. According to Abbas Uddin, famous singer and composer of Bhawaiya song, this song is like the random and pleasant wind blowing of North Bengal and it is named as Bhawaiya. According to a survey( conducted by the Folk cultural and tribal cultural centre, Government of West Bengal) among the performers of Bhawaiya song the name is derived from the word Bhao> Bhav. It has a meaning of deep feeling or love or melancholy feeling.[1]


The most dominant part of the performers are the Rajbanshi or Kamtapuri (residence of Kamtapur state) people from the North bengal and northern part of Bangladesh. But the Brahmin, Koch, Yogi, Khen, Muslim who are the resident of this area are also sing this folk song. Nowadays some of the well known bhawaiya songs are adopted in Bengali Cinema as well as in some modern folk bands.[1]


Folk song is characterised by a typical tonal structure which reflects specific natural, environmental and work related factors, topographical condition, ethnic and phonetic characteristic of the region. The following tonal structure is generally used in Bhawaiya music:

S R M P D n... S R G M P n.... M P D n D n D P M... n n S R G G M G R S ..... etc. (S=Sharaja, R= Rishava, G= Gandhara, M= Madhyama, P=Panchama, D=Dhaivata, n= flattened Nishada). Flattened tone of S, R, G, D, P and sharpen tone of M are not used in this folk song. Use of only flattened n is also a fundamental characteristic of Bhawaiya song. Dn Dn - is one of the known tonal texture of this song. S and M are used comparatively more here. The melody of this folk song generally does not go beyond the middle octave. But in some recent song specially in catka the tune goes up to the upper octave. Bhawaiya song are sung in a higher pitch. Typical voice modulation is characteristic of this folk song. Lots of microtunes are used with the main tune and pitch for this voice modulation.[1]


Bangladeshi film director Shahneoyaj Kakolii's movie Uttarer Sur (Northern Symphony) is based on the life of Bhawaiya singer. It tells about the gradual demise of this folk song from the northern part of the Bangladesh due to poverty. This movie is screened in 18th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF).[2]

A popular Bhawaiya song is Garial Bhai:

ওকি গাড়িয়াল ভাই
ওকি গাড়িয়াল ভাই
কত রব আমি পন্থের দিকে চায়া রে।
যে দিন গাড়িয়াল উজান যায়,
নারীর মন মোর উড়িয়া রয় রে।
ওকি গাড়িয়াল ভাই
হাকাও গাড়ি তুই চিলমারীর বন্দরে রে।.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Barma, Sukhbilas (2004). Bhāwāiyā : ethnomusicological study (1st ed.). New Delhi: Global Vision Pub. House. ISBN 81-8220-070-9. 
  2. ^ "Bangladeshi filmmaker idolises Ritwik Ghatak". News Track India. Nov 13, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Lyrics - Abbas Uddin, Voice - Ferdausi Rahman

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhawaiya — Please support Wikipedia.
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50 news items

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sun, 20 Sep 2015 11:01:31 -0700

Shafiul Alam Raja first took the stage and performed Bhawaiya songs, the characteristic folk music from the country's Northern region. His set included “O Mo'r Kalare”, “O Re Bhaber Chhole Mojailen Mon”, “Tui Kyane Dakilu” and the evergreen “O Ki ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sat, 14 Nov 2015 10:09:52 -0800

Noted Nazrul Sangeet singer Dr. Nashid Kamal thoroughly entertained in her set of three Bhawaiya songs. Opening with “Je Jon Premer Bhab”, she swayed the audience with her melodic rhythm in two other popular songs “Prano Sokhirey” and “Komola ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sat, 13 Sep 2014 11:15:46 -0700

The three-day 'Banglalink Rangpur Divisional Bhawaiya Utsab'-- 2014 was held at Rangpur Public Library ground in the city on Thursday evening. Sound Touch-- a reputed cultural organisation of Rangpur organised the event, sponsored by Banglalink.
Times of India
Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:51:49 -0700

The gastronomical fest will be complemented by cultural programmes; cultural affairs department secretary Atri Bhattacharya said troupes will present jhumur, chhau, baul, fakir, bhawaiya and quwwalis performances. The organisers hope that showcasing ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:03:57 -0700

Through the years the rivers that criss-cross Bengal has rippled to the unforgettable Bhatiali and Sari folk songs of the boatmen. Bhawaiya or the 'cartman's song' are sung in northern Bangladesh. There, the dusty, rugged, muddy roads take the place of ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Wed, 28 Oct 2015 11:15:29 -0700

I can even envisage the colours and flavour of eternal Bengal in his rendition of Bhawaiya songs,” said Mustafa Monwar. “Abbasuddin Ahmed was a person of delicate taste. He was a complete man. Artistes have many things to learn from his unique ...


Thu, 20 Feb 2014 22:40:20 -0800

But if there were any effort to look beyond Hindi film music and obvious recall, one would be led to the tradition of bhawaiya songs from Assam and parts of north Bengal. The lyrics of many bhawaiya songs revolve around the maishal or buffalo-keeper ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:22:30 -0700

She has recorded a wide range of songs from Nazrul to Bhawaiya, Bhajan and Ghazals. In a very short span of time, she became the most well-known Bangladeshi. Yes, one aspect has not gained enough attention, that is the fact that Runa has been the ...

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