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1971: Songs of Liberation - A Classroom Resource


Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Download the PPT by clicking below.

1971-Songs of Liberation
Download PPTX • 146KB


This could be turned into a group activity with each activity assigned to a different group of students.

Activity 1:

  • Step 1

Listen to the song Purbo Digante.

PURBO DIGANTE On the eastern horizon a new sun is rising - blood red! A time of high tide in the ocean of humanity - blood red! The time to tear all shackles is here. The days of oppression are now coming to an end, The tyrants are trembling in dread. Out of the resistance nurtured by blood and fire, A new morn comes to a new Bengal. Unfurl the flag, let the drums of war throb in our blood, Let the campaign progress at lightning speed. Tear through the repressive net of the foe.

[This is a very basic translation of the lyrics of the song for those who do not know Bengali.]

Written by Gobindo Haldar and composed by Samar Das, the song was labelled as 'Shongramer Gaan' (The Song of Struggle) and helped to motivate the Muktijoddha (freedom fighters) in East Pakistan in 1971.

  • Step 2

Focus on the language, the lyrics, the melody and tempo. Identify the mood and the dominant emotion/s. Who was the song aimed at and what might have been the aim and the possible impact? How does the song make you feel as you listen to it today?

Working as a group, note your observations in this mind map.

  • Step 3

Now listen to 'La Marseillaise'.

'La Marseillaise' is the national anthem of France. The song was written in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg after the declaration of war by France against Austria and was originally titled 'Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin' (War song for the Army of the Rhine)

Again, pay attention to the lyrics, etc. These are two very different songs in terms of time and space. But are they really very different? Think about it and work on a comparative study using a Venn diagram.


Activity 2

  • Step 1

Listen to the song 'Bongobondho Dake Re'.

Version 1

Version 2

The videos above are two versions of the same song. The first one is shorter and has the English translation of the lyrics as subtitles, which may make it easier to understand.

The second is longer and has a different 'feel'! You can listen to one or both depending on the time available.

  • Step 2

Next listen to the song 'Shono Ekti Mujiborer Theke'

Written by Gauriproshonno Majumdar and composed and sung by Angshuman Roy, this song spread the message of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and inspired freedom fighters to fight for their country.

  • Step 3

Working as a group, discuss the portrayal of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the two songs. Note your findings in the given templates. How do they help us to understand his popularity? For most of the actual War of Liberation he was in a jail in West Pakistan. Yet he remains Bongobondhu, the Father of the Nation. Why do you think this happened? Use the resources to assess his leadership through a graphic organiser.

Download the resources by clicking below:

Songs - Group 2 Resources
Download DOCX • 99KB


Activity 3

  • Step 1

Listen to the song 'Bangladesh' by George Harrison from the Concert for Bangladesh.

  • Step 2

Working together as a group, discuss the meaning of the lyrics. Why do you think the 'people are dying fast'? What could a ‘great disaster' mean here? Is there a reason for repeating the word 'Bangladesh' so many times? Make a note of these and any other references that may appear significant.

  • Step 3

Go through the references given below.* Note the conflicting aims of the Concert for Bangladesh aimed at raising funds for the people of the region, and the official US policy.

The concert poster showed a starving child with an empty plate. What, do you think, was the significance of the poster?

  • Step 4

The Concert for Bangladesh was held on 1 August 1971. Using the Breaking News Generator template (, create two different news stories that may have been telecast by two channels for the event—one that was sympathetic to the official stance, and one that was critical of it. The two perspectives should stand out clearly.

*Click below to download sources.

Songs Group 3 Sources
Download DOCX • 35KB


  • Step 5

Complete the speech boxes for the two photographs, with possible exchanges between the two men in each picture in the context of your findings from the given sources.


Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger

George Harrison and Bob Dylan

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