Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Performing Arts

Bhatiali Gaan

Songs of River and Life

Bhatiali belongs to the low-lying areas of Bangladesh. These songs express simple joys and sorrows of boatmen.

Reasons for selection

The people of Bangladesh live by harvesting crops and fish. Rivers play an important role in their living. For years rivers have influence on the sorrow and joy of the people of Bangladesh. For this people, culture and river are deeply interrelated in songs of Bangladesh.

Area where performed

Rivers and low-lying areas of Bangladesh

Essential elements of the performing art


Detailed explanation

Bhatiali is a very popular song in the community of boatmen. It is native to the bhati or low-lying region.

The term Bhatiali derived from the word bhati, which means the river-coast. Though these songs are related to rivers, it also reflects the sorrow, pain, joy and longing of the people of bhati regions. It narrates the customs of the fishermen, boatmen and farmers.

Most of the lyrics of Bhatiali characterised by a feeling of longing of the soul for eternal. The dominant theme is love and pains. Bhatiali may express simple joy too.

This type of song is generally sung in a high pitch. As the boat plies along with the current, the vast endless rivers inspire a sense of wonder - longing to see his destination and the boatmen start singing in full-throated ease, giving expression to his feelings. His voice rises and falls in keeping with the movement with the heaving of water.

The Bhatiali songs of Bangladesh can be easily distinguished from that of West Bengal by the style of singing. Bhatiali songs of Bangladesh is based on tune and melody which is very slow and more sustained. Bhatiali is sung solo.

Publication and textual documentation

not yet available

Audio documentation

Radio Bangladesh, Agargaon, Dhaka.

Visual documentation

Bangladesh Television, Rampura, Dhaka.

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

does not exist

Data provider

Mr. Azad Rahaman
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts)
Address: Segunbagicha, Ramna, Dhaka - 1000 Bangladesh