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Bhatiyali


Bhatiyali traditional navigational song of eastern Bengal, sung in a specific mode, noted for its long-drawn notes. In riverine Bangladesh, boatmen spend a considerable time in their boats. While sailing downstream, they had plenty of time to sing leasuredly in the drawn out and elevated notes characteristic of the bhatiyali. In course of time, this song gained popularity particularly in mymensingh and sylhet districts.

At one time, there were five types of bhatiyali in Bangladesh. But some of these forms are more or less extinct now. The songs known as murshidi and bichchhedi are also forms of the bhatiyali. Strains of bhatiyali can be found in Bangla folk drama, especially in the form known as gazir gan.

In many instances, the word bhatiyali is used in a song to point out the note of a specific verse. Usually in 'Pala' or panchali, the first verse of the bandana or hymn is referred to as the ujan (upstream) and the second verse as bhaital (downstream), for example: 'In the east, I salute the sun god/ When the sun arises from one side, light penetrates all sides'.

There are also references to bhatiyali songs and tunes in different texts. sekhashubhodaya refers to bhadu songs, which are sung in the classical mode of bhatiyali. Bhatiyali songs are also mentioned in srikrishnakirtan. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]