Bichar Gan a genre of folk song on religious and spiritual themes sung by two contesting groups. At the outset, the contesting singers select a topic, which they develop through questions, answers and counter questions. At the beginning only bauls sang bichar gan, using them to explain how one should pray when there were divergent opinions. Over time, it spread among folk singers belonging to different styles.
During a performance, the audience sits around the stage upon which two bayati (singers) compete with each other. They select a topic and then one of the singers asks a question to which the other replies in song. This continues for some time, with each group trying to outperform the other.
These songs are usually based on Islamic stories and doctrines. The themes also include the relationship between men and women, between the spiritual leader and his followers, etc. The performance may last for several days. During a performance, the main singer stands and sings, while the choristers sit beside him and repeat the refrain.
Bichar Gan is also known as Baul song in greater dhaka and eastern sylhet, Fakirali Gan in tangail and mymensingh, dhuya gan in jessore, Shabda Gan in khulna, Bhav Gan in kushtia and kavigan in chittagong. Now-a-days Bichar Gan is also widely sung in different parts of manikganj and faridpur districts. [Shahida Khatun]