Music of Bengal: Folk Music

It is not easy to trace the root of Bengali music back to very old times, but it has experienced a wide variation. The earliest music in Bengal must have been influenced by the worshiper Lord Vishnu, which can be found  Geet-Gobind by Jaidev. Bengali music can be classified into different categories, each so unique and soulful:

  • Folk Music
  • Classical Music
  • Devotional Music or Shyama-Sangeet
  • Rabindra Sangeet
  • Nazrul Geeti
  • Atulprasadi
  • Adhunik Bangla Music
  • Ganasangeet
  • Bangla Band Music


In today’s series, I will focus on Folk Music. Like its contemporaries from the West, Bangla folk music is a tree in itself, so diverse and each branch is so beautiful and soulful. Will attempt to classify it:

  • Baul
  • Bhatiali
  • Kirtan
  • Other folk songs (Jeeban mukhi type)

Bangla  folk music has its traces both in the present West Bengal,India and Bangladesh. Especially, Baul and Bhatiali folk music and songs have been influenced by great thinker, singers, ballads from both sides (it was one state at that time, pre- 1947)

Baul songs sung by specific groups of traveling mystic minstrels known as Bauls. Baul music celebrates celestial love. It carries the influences of  Bhakti movements as well as the Sufi movements. One of the biggest exponent of this form is the philosopher poet, Lalon Fakir. In current  times, Purnochandra Das Baul is quite a  name across the world.

Bhatiyali is a traditional form of folk music in Eastern Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal). Bhatiyali is a traditional boat song, sung by boatmen while going down streams of the river. S.D.Burman did a lot of experimentation with this form of music in his compositions.

Kirtan are religious songs usually sung in chorus, mostly in praise of Lord Shri  Krishna and Gouranga.

Embedding few of my favorite folk songs:

Sohag Chand sung by Nirmalendu Chowdhury.

Allah Megh De sung by S.D. Burman (from the film, Guide)

Oh Nanadi sung by Swapna Chakraborty

Bajo Gouranga


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