Bengali Folklore
Folk Music
Folk Theatre
Shyama Sangeet
A very rich branch of hindu devotional songs (bhaktigeeti) or hymns to goddess Kali - presumed to be the epicentre of all energy/force (Shakti) of this Universe. Tantrik sadhus (monks) and household people alike, for fear or for love of Kali, sing Shyama's praise on the streets, in the paddy fields, on river boats. Kali, in these songs, is the metaphorical mother whose kind attention and favour is sought with utmost eagerness to help with all material and spiritual problems. Lyrics are generally written for appreciation of the ordinary people - but often may involve themes and concepts far beyond their reach. Similarly, the compositions of the musical notes are for the average persons' consumption but may at times touch the pinnacle of the most difficult of Indian rags.

One of the most prolific composers of the Shyama Sangeet was Ramprasad Sen. His nineteenth century gems are still as popular as they were in his lifetime. It is hard to imagine another legendary composer like Ramprasad who could apply household metaphors and riddles with beautifully crafted words - that described complex theosophical topics and concepts - to unique yet simple tunes. His words and tune were capable of extracting the last ounce of appreciation for and devotion to goddess Kali either from the singer or the listener. His songs are lovingly known as the Ramprasadi or Prasadi Songs. Countless Ramprasdi songs became an integral part of folk (or Jatra) plays. Wherever a devotional import was required, in any play, Ramprasadi was the answer.

Although not strictly limited to only Shyama Sangeet, probably at a more sophisticated level, devotional songs of Atulprasad and Rajanikanta Sen can be mentioned in this general category. Directed at educated audience, these songs are deep in devotional spirit, language and tonal variety. Their subject matters too are many and varied.