Folk songs are the integral part of the folk culture and tradition of Bangladesh. Folk songs represent the emotional expression of simple, rustic masses of rural community. These songs fascinate the audience through their lucid melody. The poets and the lyricists from the local community usually compose these songs from their passion that reflects their great empathy of joys and sorrows, woe and bliss, enthusiasm and harmony for the nature and peace of the soul as there is an eternal relation between human beings and nature as like as relation between nature and folk songs. Folk songs are the expression of the totality of rural life. There are numerous folk-songs like Bhatiali, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhatiali Shari, Jari, Baul, Murshidi, Punthi Gan and many other such forms of folk songs.
The traditional Boul songs were sung by the old and enlightened Bouls who had vision and true inspiration in their religious quest for the love of God. All Bauls believe that God is hidden in the heart of man, and neither priest nor prophet, nor the ritual of any organized religion, will help man to find him there. So, the themes of the boul songs are mostly spiritual. And the Bouls were the spiritual gurus of that time who sung for joy, love and longing for divine peace. Boul songs discover a unique secular approach in defining the mystery of the Creation, the bondage of divine love between Man and the Almighty, a generous acceptance of the both faiths of Vaisavism of the Hindus and Sufism of the Muslims.
Baul songs are usually solo songs although often accompanists and members of the audience (normally, handfull of villagers gathering around the Bauls) to join in the refrain and repetition phrases of the verse. Instruments used by Bauls include the khamak, tabla, mridonga or khol, harmonium, ektara, khanjani, manndira or kartal, ghongoor, and ramchaki.
Fakir Lalon Shah (1774-1890) was the famous boul singer and composer of this region. Another famous Baoul of Bangladesh is Purna das Boul .
Jari (Jari Gaan) is a kind of sad song. Its origin is the tragic events of Medina and Karbala and the death of Hazrat Imam Hassan and Hussain. The shia community of South Asia commemorate the events of Karbala in the month of Muharram by singing marsiyas or dirges in Urdu, in Bengali it is called Jari Gaan. Today Jari Gaans are found especially in Mymenshingh district of Bangladesh.
Sari gaan or Sari songs are usually sung before or after the boat races, a popular amusement in East Bengal during the monsoon months. During the races young boys take part in the races with great enthusiasm. Large crowds gather along the banks of the river to celebrate the occasions. Boats are decorated with colorful decorations. Before the race began, and sometimes after it was completed, festivities continued all day long with sing-a-song-sing-along sarigaan.
Vatiyali songs are traditional boat song of eastern Bengal, sung in a specific mode, noted for its long-drawn notes. In riverine Bangladesh, boatmen spent a lot of time in their boats. While sailing downstream, they had plenty of leisure to sing comfortably. The drawn out and elevated notes are the characteristic of the bhatiyali. In course of time, this song gained popularity particularly in Mymensingh and Sylhet districts. A famous vatiyaly song of Bangladesh –
“Amay Vashile re
Amay dubaili re
Akul doriar bujhi kul nai re
Sabdhane chaliao majhi amar vanga tori re
Akul doriar bujhi kul nai re”
You’ve set me adrift
You’ve sunk me
The endless waters have no shore
Limitless, with no shores, the waters have no banks
O row with care boatman, my riven boat.
Agricultural is the principal occupation of the people of rural Bangladesh. In agriculture, rainfall is very essential for good harvest. During, drought the peasants find it difficult to use the plough in the field. Under such circumstances, the religious minded people in the countryside pray to god for rain. They often offer their prayer in the form of songs, which can be called songs to invite rain, or simply rain songs. However, religious beliefs of the rural people are captured in these songs.
Pala gaan is a traditional Bengali folk theater popular among the rural masses across the border area. It evolved as a performance genre in the greater Mymensingh district of East Bengal. It is an essential component of all the major rural festivals during the dry seasons. Pala gaan is performed by a group of performers. The bayati (the lead narrator) leads a Pala gaan troupe and five to eight choral singers/musicians (dohar and pail) play traditional such as harmonium and dhol (drum) and indigenous such as judi, kathi, and dotara instruments.
The performance of Pala gaan constitutes two distinctive parts: bandana (invocation) and main body of performance. The bandana is rendered by the lead narrator with dohars singing choral refrain and music. The bandana is usually addressed to Allah, prophet, the sun god in the east and Himalayas in the north, Mecca in the west, sea in the south, saint, mythical heroes and spectators. After the end of bandana, the lead narrator begins the main body or the story of Pala gaan.
Gazir Gaan (Gazi Songs)
Gazir Gan was popular in the districts of Faridpur, Noakhali, Chittagong and Sylhet region of Bangladesh. They were performed for boons received or wished for, such as for a child, after a cure, for the fertility of the soil, for the well-being of cattle, for success in business, etc. Gazi songs would be presented while unfurling a scroll depicting different events in the life of Gazi Pir. On the scroll would also be depicted the field of Karbala, the Ka’aba, Hindu temples, etc. Sometimes these paintings were also done on earthenware pots.
Gazi songs were preceded by a bandana or hymn, sung by the main singer. He would sing: ‘I turn to the east in reverence to Bhanushvar (sun) whose rise brightens the world. Then I adore Gazi, the kind-hearted, who is saluted by Hindus and Muslims’. Then he would narrate the story of Gazi’s birth, his wars with the demons and the evil spirits, as well as his rescue of a merchant at sea.
Bhaoaia is a popular folk music of North Bengal especialluy in Rangpur and Dinajpur District of Bangladesh. Bhaoaia is derived from the word Bhao or Bhav that means mood.
There is also murshitdi, marfoti, voktimulok, kavi gaan famous folk songs in Bangladesh.