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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. 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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75 news items

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sat, 13 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -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.

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0800

The event set off with the rendition of Bhawaiya songs by BSA artistes. Enamul Haque Omar on mridanga, Bishwajit Natta on pakhawaj, Goutam Sanker and Zakir Hossain on tabla and Basudeb on harmonium took part in instrumental recital. Samir Qawwal ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 10:13:37 -0800

The three day fair included vibrant cultural programmes featuring panchokobir gaan,bhawaiya, bhatiali and folk songs composed by Lalon Fakir, Hason Raja, Radharamon Dutta, Shah Abdul Karim, Bijoy Sarkar and Jalaluddin. Iffat Ara Nargis, Khairul Anam ...


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 ...
Times of India
Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:32:27 -0700

KOLKATA : After seven years, a Kolkata-based organization—Banglanatak.com—has won a prestigious grant from the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) 2014 for their project "Documentation of Bengal folk music genres Bhawaiya, Bhatiali, ...
Times of India
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:41:15 -0700

Band Surma Dohar, comprising Amit Guha, Bablu Das, Neetu Dey, Sajib Sarkar, Subhajit Ghosh and Tarun Choudhury, wowed the crowd with Bhawaiya, tribal songs from Khasi and Jaintia hills, Bihu, Aklap and Gambhira — songs from Murshidabad.

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 10:11:35 -0800

He has already published two books on Bhawaiya music with staff notation of about 1,200 songs which is an asset to our musical collection. I am sure the singers of future will consider this as a treasure chest from which they can derive, learn and ...
Times of India
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:25:55 -0700

Day Two saw performances by jhumur, baul, fakiri and bhawaiya artistes. The chhau dance of Purulia and Pirergaan by Imran Ali Khan were much appreciated. A musical performance by a few kids, using junk items, had the guests asking for more.

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