SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

SSAI Sanglaap Art and Culture Annual Meet


Date: 3 December 2020Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 3 December 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Webinar

Language, Lyrics and Philosophy of Maizbhandaris in Chittagong (Bangladesh)


This performance webinar will be led by three eminent artists of the Maizbhandari Moromi Goshti with a discussion led by Prof Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury on the significance of Sufi influence in the regional culture of Chittagong, the spread of Maizbhandari philosophy to other parts of Bangladesh and an international outreach. Artists will respond to an interactive discussion on the content and style of singing and comment on their lived experience of belonging to a community of regional qawal and among other Sufi singing practitioners. Prof AY MD Jafar will explain the composition of vernacular songs using translations and their significance in Maijbhandari philosophy as a distinct cultural genre of the region, influenced also by specific language development through the articulation of folk songs and its consumption. Prof Abul Quasem will add to the discussion as a linguistic expert on Chittagong language spoken by some 14 million people of greater Chittagong (Districts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban) and Akyab (of Myanmar). The language is recorded as one of the dialects of Indo-European-origin Bengali Language, vocabularies having phonetic and semantic resemblances with the other neighbouring dialects of Bengali language. However, a good percentage of its vocabularies are drawn from non-Aryan sources though the amount/percentage of which has not yet been confirmed in empirical scholarship. As an old seaport, Chittagong had been open to migration and import of languages and cultures, resulting in deviation of this language from Standard Colloquial Bengali (SCB), and could easily be made a different one like Assamese. The language has never been accepted as medium of instruction in educational institutions, formal functions and electronic media. However, the current interest in its rich folk, literary and oral tradition in the form of religious poems (Maizbhandari songs) has led to a revival of a writing system (without the existence of a formal script), in parallel to the regional singing traditions.

The discussion and performance is followed by Q&A.

Chair and Discussants: Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SOAS South Asia Institute), Prof AY MD Jafar (Maizbhandari Trust), Prof Abul Quasem (Cox Bazar University), Prof Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury (Ex-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chittagong (CU) 

  • Syed Jaber Sorwar is the Cultural Secretary of Maizbhandari Moromi Goshti, Teacher at Maizbhandari Sangeet Niketon and Enlisted Artist, Chattogram Betar & Bangladesh Television (Chattogram Center).
  • Sajjad Hossain Arman is Member Artist of Maizbhandari Moromi Goshti, Qawal & Artist, Bangladesh Television, Chattogram Center).
  • Nayan Shill is Member Artist of Maizbhandari Moromi Goshti, Massranga Magic Bauliana 2019 Winner and Radio & Television artist.


Googleform (link for the webinar will be emailed to the registered attendees)

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute and Maizbhandari (KA) Trust Bangladesh.

Contact email: