Traditional Bengali Muslim Wedding Songs

in Module
Published on: 28 June 2018

Chandrayee Dey

Writer, Researcher and Journalist

Traditionally in a Bengali Muslim family, neighbours, relations and community women, locally called biye gauni, were invited by the head of the family to come and join a wedding and perform during the marriage rituals and ceremony. Their performance included songs, dance and kaap (comic performance). Women were and are the sole practitioners of this tradition. In part these were ritual songs rich in cultural motifs; but the themes of these songs were not restricted to just the ceremony of marriage; it revolved around the everyday reality of a common Bengali Muslim woman. These orally composed songs unfold a broader socio-cultural scenario, as reflected in the mind of a woman confined within the boundaries of family and community. Today, this traditional performance is in practice mostly in a few remote villages in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Occasionally, stage performances in outskirts and theatre productions in urban areas contribute to the overall social impact of this tradition. This module will focus on the living traces of traditional Muslim wedding songs in West Bengal.