The buffalo-keeper’s song
The 'bhawaiya' songs from Assam and parts of north Bengal revolve around the 'maishal' or buffalo-keeper
The extraordinary media interest generated by the theft of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s seven buffaloes, the investigation into their theft and finally the recovery of the stolen buffaloes prompts me to focus my attention this fortnight on buffalo songs, and on songs focusing on animal life. Music in general receives little or no attention in the media, but thanks to Khan and his lost-and-found buffaloes, there just might be some takers for buffalo songs! The obvious choice would be to recall the comic “Meri bhains ko danda kyon maara…" from the 1970 Hindi film Pagla Kahin Ka, where the great Manna Dey provides the playback voice for Shammi Kapoor under the baton of composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan. But if there were any effort to look beyond Hindi film music and obvious recall, one would be led to the tradition of bhawaiya songs from Assam and parts of north Bengal. The lyrics of many bhawaiya songs revolve around the maishal or buffalo-keeper, and are therefore further classified as maishali bhawaiya.