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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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100 news items

The Navhind Times

The Navhind Times
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:30:00 -0700

The vocal compositions are based on traditional Bengali folk of various genres including Baul (songs of wandering minstrels spreading love and peace), Jhumur (lifestyle music of tribal communities of Purulia Bankura) and Bhawaiya (lifestyle songs of ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:35:42 -0700

Folk music can also be classified into several subgenres like Baul, Bhandari, Bhatiali, Bhawaiya, Dhamail, Gombhira, Jari, Pala, Gajir Gaan, Pot-er Gaan, Kirtan, Kobigaan, Sari, Murshidi, Roof-beating songs, wedding songs, pastoral songs and more.

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Sun, 20 Sep 2015 11:00:00 -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, 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
Thu, 04 Feb 2016 10:29:27 -0800

Ferdausi Rahman, a virtuoso singer, can sing Classical, Khayal, Thumri, Ghazals, Nazrul Sangeet, Bhawaiya, Bhatiali and Adhunik Bangla songs with incredible ease. She has over 500 disc records, a few LPs, and a good number of cassettes and CDs which ...

New Kerala

New Kerala
Sun, 31 Jan 2016 01:00:00 -0800

Among the region-based formats, there are bhawaiya, gambhira, jhumur,bhadu, tusu, etc. The folk songs are also a lesson in regional geography, customs, etc., points out Bhattacharya. The tempo of bhatiyali songs is very slow. It is sung by the boat ...

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
Wed, 28 Oct 2015 11:11:15 -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 ...

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