HG Watch: A Bengali Folk Song Paying Homage To The Journey Of Life

HG Watch: A Bengali Folk Song Paying Homage To The Journey Of Life
Edge of Humanity

Popularised by Bangladeshi singer, Abbasuddin Ahmed, the song, Amai Bhasaili re, Amai Dubaili Re (You have set me adrift / You are causing me to drown), is a part of Bangladeshi poet Jasimuddin’s collection. For long, Jasimuddin has been widely celebrated for his pastoral ballad sagas. This song belongs to the genre of the ‘Bhatiali’, which includes songs sung by sailors and fishermen in West Bengal and Bangladesh alike while sailing across the rivers (a common occurrence in the similar landscapes of Bengal and Bangladesh) in search for survival. These folk songs have their roots in the obscure past of the region and have been handed down orally across generations. Soulful and simple on the outside, the songs carry deep philosophical messages, telling you about the arduous, yet blissful journey of life.

The song is purely metaphorical, comparing the boatman’s journey to the journey of life, with its significant share of ups and downs. Just like the boatman is riding through the waves to look for sustenance, mankind is also precariously holding onto the thread of life whilst tiding over the bad times. The song is a celebration of life, which, in all its joys and sorrows, is ultimately a leap of faith.

Over the years, the song has been recreated by several stalwarts of music across South Asia. In unprecedented times such as these, when we are trying our best to hold on to hope whilst wishing and praying to the boatman to have us reach the other side of these treacherous waters safely, Amai Bhasaili Re continues to fill us with hope.

Here’s a version from the 1959 Bengali classic, Ganga.

The folk song was also recreated in Hindi by singer and music director Hemant Kumar as ‘Ganga Aaye Kahan Se’ for Hemen Gupta’s 1961-hit Kabuliwala.

A more modern rendition from Coke Studio Pakistan:

Here’s Manna Dey’s version:

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