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

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Performing Arts

Saari Gaan

Songs of Boatmen

Saari songs are connected with boats and rivers. It is a kind of rhythmic community song.

Reasons for selection

Bangladesh's topography is dominated by rivers, canals and lakes, and boats have been one of chief means of transportation, especially for the rural people. Saari Gaan is a vital example of the inspiration of labour along with a rhythmic touch of folk music.

Area where performed

low-lying or river areas

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Saari songs are the songs of boatmen. The oarsmen and boatmen sit in a line and sing this while plying their oars. There are some distinct characteristics in Saari songs:
(a)This is a type of working song.
(b)It is a group song.
(c)It is rhythmic song.
(d)Mainly sung by males.

This type of folk song still exists as it is deeply related to work or labour. The main theme of Saari songs are folk culture, love and knowledge about God.

Saari is a community song. The boatmen start singing and oarsmen sitting in line join in it.

Saari songs also include dance. In this dance of boatmen, the rhythm of the waves and the flow of the rivers are beautifully captured by a series of evocative movements. The boatmen's life story as told by the lilting song is presently by a sequence of finely charted expressions.

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

Azad Rozana
Research Officer, Music
Center for Education, Creative and Performing Art
Address: 64/C Green Road, Dhaka - 1205 Bangladesh