A week for Bhatiali of Bengal, 2021

Mukto Arts organised “A week for Bhatiali of Bengal”, supported by the National Lottery Heritage fund. This digital art project integrated Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage, dating back thousands of years, to a wider audience while creating a cultural resilience among the British Bangladeshi diaspora.

‘Bhatiali’ is a traditional folk form of music related to the river, boat, and the rural Bengal life that is mostly sung by boatsmen while going down streams of the river. Lyrics of the ‘Bhatiali’ traditionally consist of metaphorical and emotional verses about the waters and boatman and fisherman’s life. The songs have a strange character. Because they are born on a living river with all her moods, they are honest and real. On the other hand, many lyrics portrayed stories of the pathos, joy and ecstasy of deprived brides because boatsmen were the only sources to send and receive information across the loved one.

After researching the subject matters, our lead artist Mukta Chakravarty incorporated its key elements into a painting and wrote scripts for a short film to illustrate illustrations in an audiovisual format. These will connect fine art, music and poetry to showcase the substance of Bangladeshi cultural heritage.
Additionally, musicians, storytellers, researchers, academics and local public representatives, well-versed on the matter, participated in four online seminars and visual discussions connecting stories and research findings along with the live ‘Bhatiali’ music. Each seminar highlighted the importance of cultural heritage in strengthening national and ethnic identity, narrating beautiful melodies and stories connected to the ‘Bhatiali’ of Bengal. Besides, an online publication was published synthesising stories of ‘Bhatiali’ written by different writers.

Funded by The National Lottery Community fund

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