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With a culture as rich and multi-dimensional, the music composed and produced in Bengal is as rich and diverse as any other in the world. From classical to rock and folk to devotional along with a wide range of emotions- sadness, anxiety, love, devotional and spiritual that go hand in hand with it, music in Bengal encompasses and surpasses every genre. Classical Bangla Music like the classical music forms of India is basically sculpted on the musical nodes called Ragas. Many of the Ragas that are native to the classical Bangla music can also be found in the Hindustani classic or Carnatic classical music. The most popular form of Bengali music is the Rabindra Sangeet developed by Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. This highly prophetic and intellectual music form is popular among the educated factions of society. It is made up of a collection of over two thousand songs and is considered to be the most defining expression of Bangla music. Developed by the great revolutionary KaziNazrul Islam, the Nazrul Geeti is extremely motivational and revolutionary in nature and gained prominence during the freedom struggle. Even though it wasn't used for commercial purposes like the RabindraSangeet was, it gained immense popularity among the people due to its revolutionary feel and powerful tone. A popular form of Bengali folk music is the Baul Sangeet, very similar to modern western folk music. The BaulSangeet acts as a medium to interact with God with its aim to assist man to find God in himself. The lyrics are highly intellectual and spiritual. Adhunik Sangeet translates into "modern songs". During the period just before independence, several new genres emerged mainly in the form of playback songs for movies. Most band music and Bengali rock come under this genre.


A state renowned for its rich cultural variety, dance is an essential part that showcases the culture of West Bengal. Each region in the state has its own unique dance form to exhibit, based not only on the culture and history of the region but on worldwide themes that affect society and art as a whole. This remarkably unique feature of blending both the international themes with regional culture and tradition is another highlight of a culture so rare in the world. The Brita dance is a traditional folk dance of West Bengal performed by women who seek blessings from the Gods so the wishes of their children are fulfilled. The dance is also performed when a person or their loved ones recover from a contagious or life threatening disease. The Gambhira dance is a dance performed mainly during festivals in the state. The theme of this devotional folk dance is based on social, political and moral problems of contemporary society. Popular in the north Bengal districts, the dance is a solo performance in which the participant wears a mask while performing. The Santhal dance is an extremely vibrant and cheerful dance which is performed by both men and women of the Santhali tribe. The theme of the dance is related to gender issues and land rights. It is performed to celebrate spring festival in which the glory of nature is praised. One of the most well-known forms of dance is the Lathi dance. Performed in the first ten days of the Muslim festival of Muharram, it expresses the different emotions of human life like remorse, celebration, anger, pain and love. The Chhau is one of the most widely practiced tribal dance forms in the state. The dance ranges from celebrating martial arts, aerobics, and athletics to a structured dance with religious themes found in Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism. The stories enacted by the dances are taken from the great epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Last updated on: Monday, 2nd May, 2022
Information Source: Department of Information & Cultural Affairs(I&CA), Government of West Bengal
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