Pagla Kanai: A Legendary Folk Poet & Musician of Jhenidah

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Offline Shamim Ansary

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Pagla Kanai: A Legendary Folk Poet & Musician of Jhenidah
« on: October 21, 2010, 10:36:25 AM »
Pagla Kanai (1809-1889), a mystic folk poet and musician was born in a peasant family in Lebutala village in Jhenidah district. His real name was Kanai Sheikh but he is better known as Pagla Kanai.

Pagla Kanai lost his parents in early childhood and was brought up by his sister. He did not go to school. He worked for some time at the local indigo factory. He was married but gradually became attracted to an ascetic life.

He was a natural poet and could compose songs spontaneously. His itinerant group of singers included Kala Chand Bayati, Hakim Shah, Karim Biswas, Indu Biswas and Karamaddi. They would tour the areas of Jessore, Jhenidah, Kushtia, Pabna, Rajshahi and Bogra singing in chorus, occasionally competitively.

Pagla Kanai used to compose basically mystical and spiritual songs. The main themes of his songs included the human body, the impermanence of the world, the mystery of life, etc. He composed songs about the Prophet muhammad (Sm) as well as hymns to krishna. In one song he observed: ek baper dui beta, taza mara keha nay/ sakaleri ek rakta ekghare ashray (Both are sons of the same father whether alive or dead/ Both have the same blood and the same place of rest). Dr Mazharul Islam included 240 of these songs in his book, Kavi Pagla Kanai (1959).

Pagla Kanai is buried at Jhenidah, where his birth and death anniversary is celebrated with due respect. Fans throng there from the respsct of their hearts.

[Ramdulal Roy]
From Banglapedia
"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"

Offline Shamim Ansary

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Re: Pagla Kanai: A Legendary Folk Poet & Musician of Jhenidah
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2010, 10:40:40 AM »
Legendary Pagla Kanai and his 'Jarigaan'
Cultural heritage on the verge of extinction
Ershad Kamol, back from Jhenidah

Pagla Kanai (1810-1890), a mystic folk poet and musician, was born to a family of peasants in Nebutola village in Jhenidah. Though he is popular as Pagla Kanai, his original name was Kanai Sheikh.

He was a poet with the ability to compose songs spontaneously. He composed what were basically mystical and spiritual songs. The themes of his songs featured topics such as dehotattta(analysis of human form), the transient world, and the mystery of life. He composed songs about Prophet Muhammad (SM) as well as hymns to Krishna. But, Pagla Kanai is popular for developing a Jari form titled Dhuajari, in which an incident is narrated in a rhythmic tone.

The origins of Jarigaan may be traced back to the early 17th century in Bangladesh when poetry was written on the tragic stories of Karbala. However, Pagla Kanai successfully used other myths such as Radha-Krishna, Monosha-mongala as well as contemporary social issues of his time and traditional Baul music in his compositions of Dhuajari. Through these, Kanai has analysed Sufism, meaning of life and other themes in his songs. In fact, he gave aesthetic presentation of Jarigaan, and subsequently earned a name in history. His songs were once very popular in many areas including Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Tangail, Faridpur, Pabna, Jessore, Kushtia, Khulna, Barisal and others.

A Dhuajari session may also take place between two Jarigaan teams. The teams render songs in a question-answer format. Towards the end, the team members put forward extempore arguments in an effort to prove their opponent wrong.

Pagla Kanai was the lead singer of a troupe. His itinerant group of singers included Kala Chand Bayati, Hakim Shah, Karim Biswas, Indu Biswas and Karamaddi.

But, not much initiative is taken to uphold the tradition. Dr Mazharul Islam included 240 of these songs in his book, Kabi Pagla Kanai. Professor Abul Ahsan Choudhury, M Monsuruddin have also written books on the same subject. Moreover, ministry of Cultural Affairs has built an auditorium adjacent to the shrine of Pagla Kanai, at the remote village of Nebutala, Madhabpur.

Unfortunately this rich tradition is on the verge of extinction. To celebrate his birth anniversary, a few of his followers, mostly above fifty, gather at his shrine and render songs. But, nowadays very few people are interested in Dhuajari. As a result the experts believe that the tradition of Pagla Kanai is fading away.

   
A view of the shrine (L), next to it is the newly constructed auditorium.
 
From The daily Star, September 12, 2006.
"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"

Offline Shamim Ansary

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Re: Pagla Kanai: A Legendary Folk Poet & Musician of Jhenidah
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2010, 10:54:54 AM »
Published On: 2009-04-06
Mystic Pagla Kanai’s 199th birth anniversary observed
Azibor Rahman, Jhenidah


‘Lathi Khela,’ one of the highlights at the Pagla Kanai birth anniversary celebration

The 199th birth anniversary of mystic bard Pagla Kanai was observed on March 4 in Jhenidah in a befitting manner. The programme was arranged by 'Pagla Kanai Smriti Shangrakkhan Shangshad' of Berbari village, Jhenidah. The anniversary programme began last Friday.

Mohammad Motahar Hossain, state minister for education, was present as chief guest at the opening programme. Local lawmaker Shafikul Islam; A.H.M Akhtarul Islam, assistant professor of English, Kushtia University; Babu Kanak Kanti Das, Sadar Upazilla chairman; police superintendent Jahangir Hossain Matabbar and Rashidul Islam, vice president of Jhenidah Sadar were present as special guests. The programme was presided over by A.K.M. Rafikul Islam, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Jhenidah.

Several stalls were set up around the 'Mazaar' (shrine) complex of Pagla Kanai. Visitors in thousands thronged the venue. A good number of devotees of Pagla Kanai showed up to pay tribute to the legendary mystic. Rinku (of "Close Up 1" fame) performed a good number of Baul songs on the occasion.

Pagla Kanai was born in Labutala Madhabpur village under Jhenidah district on March 18, 1809 (Falgun 25, 1226 in the Bengali calendar). Kanai was born to Messer Ali and Momena Khatun. This year, Kanai's birth anniversary was celebrated later as the date coincided with Muharram, said Ibrahim Hossian, joint secretary of Pagla Kanai Smriti Shangrakkhan Shangshad.

Kanai became renowned for his folk songs. He composed a good number of devotional songs but many of these have not been preserved. An auditorium and library named after him now stands near the Mazaar.

Pagla Kanai's passion and intense spirituality was evident at an early age, hence the locals started calling him "pagla" (crazy).

Kanai left his village to evade the oppression of the British rulers who forced the farmers to cultivate indigo. Dirt-poor Kanai became a drifter after his father's death. He became a cowherd. Many were taken aback by his eclectic spiritual songs and "dhua jaari." His spiritual inclination put him in touch with the bauls and fakirs of the area.

People from all walks of life used to throng his 'ashor' (performance) and listened to his songs for hours. And gradually his fame extended throughout the country.

Pagla Kanai's songs can be classified into 'jari,' 'dhua,' 'pala gaan,' 'kobi gaan,' 'murshidi,' 'marfati,' Islamic and more.

Scholars such as Mohammad Mansur Uddin, Dr. Mazharul Islam, Abu Talib, Amin Uddin Shah, Durga Das Lahiri and Upendranath Bhattacharya collected Pagla Kanai's songs and conducted researches on the bard.

The legendary baul passed away in July 1889.

Aulad Hossain, a descendant of Pagla Kanai said, "We are elated that his birth anniversary gets a major celebration but we also expect the government to take further steps to preserve his memories."

The Daily Star, 2009-04-06
"Many thanks to Allah who gave us life after having given us death and (our) final return (on the Day of Qiyaamah (Judgement)) is to Him"

Offline papelrezwan

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Re: Pagla Kanai: A Legendary Folk Poet & Musician of Jhenidah
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2010, 03:09:02 PM »
These type of music and activities are going to be extincted from the society due to modern culture.
Md. Rezwanur Rahman
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Daffodil International University
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