Ghatu Gan a kind of folk song, also known variously as ghetu, ghantu, gantu, or gadu, song. Etymologically, ghatu is derived from the word ghat, or riverbank. At one time the ghat was not just the place where villagers bathed and fetched water, but also the place where boatmen anchored their boats, where merchants displayed their wares, and where people congregated. Different forms of entertainment arose, including what are known as ghatu songs because they were sung at the ghat.
A gay culture underlies ghatu songs and dances, which are predominantly erotic and usually based on the relationship of radha and krishna. According to tradition, ghatu songs originated in the early sixteenth century, when a Vaishnava (follower of chaitanya) of Azmiriganj village in the district of sunamganj renounced domestic ties and began to spend his days in the guise of Radha separated from Krishna. Gradually, the number of his disciples increased. The boys among his disciples dressed like the companions of Radha and danced and sang songs expressing emotions of love and separation. In time, these boys formed the first ghatu group and composed ghatu songs.
The part of Radha would be played by an adolescent youth in woman’s clothes, his girlish beauty and feminine gestures and mannerisms attracting and entertaining the mainly male audiences at the ghat. In general, the desk of boats on rivers, lakes and canals in the rainy season when village people have ample leisure, provided the most appropriate setting for ghatu songs. Subsequently, ghatu songs were also performed in places other than ghats.
Sometimes ghatu groups competed with one another in performing a dialogue between Radha and Krishna.
Once popular in eastern mymensingh, northern comilla and western sylhet, ghatu songs are now losing their popularity because of alternative modes of entertainment and social transformation. [Shahida Khatun]