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Bhatiyali, the songs of boatmen, make up a popular variety of Bengali music. Know more about Bhatiyali Sangeet of West Bengal, India.

Bhatiyali Music

West Bengal is famous for its outstanding art and culture. The beauty of this state has been sweetened by the melody that the wonderful variety of its music presents. In fact, music is regarded as an integral part of the Bengali culture. Be it classical, devotional, rock, pop or folk, Bengali music has always found its admirers. The folk music runs in the veins of Bengalis. The beautiful ambience of the state, situated amidst the eastern Himalayas and magical sea, gives the poets an inspiration to create a folk melody of serene class. One such beautiful form of folk melody is Bhatiyali Sangeet, or the melody of the boatmen.

Bhatiyali music is actually a form of folk inspired by the confluence of nature and life. It is said to be the creation of boatmen who row along the mystic Brahmaputra. Bhatiyali is the song of their life. It, basically, comprises of lyrics related to the concept of how the life of a boatmen gently flows on the mystic rivers. It is sung in a specific mode, basically distinguished for its long-drawn notes. It includes the songs of leisure and peace, sung while comfortably rowing downstream. The songs basically originated and gained popularity from the Mymensingh and Sylhet districts of Bengal (now in Bangladesh).

The popularity of Bhatiyali, though still very much existent, has suffered a setback with the growing pace of life. There used to be different types of Bhatiyali music earlier, majority of which have gradually become extinct from the music scene of West Bengal. However, a few of the varieties still strive to survive, with Murshidi and Bichchhedi being two of them. Bhatiyali sangeet is said to be the inspirational key behind 'Gazir gan', a kind of Bangla folk drama. The beauty of the music is such that it has been quoted in various texts as well, like Sekhashubhodaya and Srikrishnakirtan.