Abol Tabol

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Abol Tabol
Cover page of the book.
Author Sukumar Ray
Country India
Language Bengali
Genre Poetry
Publisher U. Ray and Sons
Publication date
September 19, 1923
Text Abol Tabol at Wikisource

Abol tabol (Bengali: আবোল তাবোল; About this sound listen ; literally "weird and random") is a collection of Bengali children's poems and rhymes composed by Sukumar Ray, first published on 19 September 1923 by U. Ray and Sons publishers. It consists of 43 named and 7 unnamed short rhymes, all considered to be in the genre of literary nonsense.


Bengali readers were exposed to a new nonsense fantasy world by the poems in Abol Tabol. This selection offers the best of Sukumar Ray's world of pun-riddled poetry.


আর যেখানে যাও না রে ভাই সপ্তসাগর পার,
কাতুকুতু বুড়োর কাছে যেও না খবরদার!
সর্বনেশে বৃদ্ধ সে ভাই যেও না তার বাড়ি-
কাতুকুতুর কুল্পি খেয়ে ছিঁড়বে পেটের নাড়ি

A portion from Sukumar Ray's Katukutu Buro

শিবঠাকুরের আপন দেশে ,
আইন কানুন সর্বনেশে!
কেউ যদি যায় পিছলে প'ড়ে,
প্যায়দা এসে পাক্‌ড়ে ধরে ,
কাজির কাছে হয় বিচার-
একুশ টাকা দন্ড তার।।

A portion from Sukumar Ray's Ekushe Ain

His collection had several characters which became legendary in Bengali literature and culture. Some characters even have found idiomatic usage in the language.

Some of the most famous characters in "Abol tabol" are:

  • Kath Buro (Poetry: Kath Buro)
  • Head Officer Burrobabu (Poetry: Gnof Churi)
  • Kumro Potash (Poetry: Kumro Potash)
  • Sat Patro (Poetry: Sat Patra)
  • Chandidaser Khuroe (Poetry: Khuror Kal)
  • Bombagarher Raja (Poetry: Bombagorer Raja)
  • Hunkumukho Hyangla (Poetry: Hunkumukho Hyangla)
  • Ramgorurer Chhana (Poetry: Ramgorurer Chhana)
  • Tyansh Goru (Poetry: Tyansh Goru)
  • Shashthi Charan (Poetry: Palowan)
  • Panto Bhoot (Poetry: Bhuture Kando)
  • Nera (Poetry: Nera Beltolay Jay Kobar)
  • Katukutu Buro (Poetry: Katukutu Buro)


Editions of Sukumar Ray, in chronological order. Each edition here has its distinct merits.

Nonsense Rhymes. Translated by Satyajit Ray. Calcutta: Writer's Workshop, 1970.

  • This volume by the author's son is the slimmest and is difficult to find.

The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray. Translated by Sukanta Chaudhuri. New Delhi: OUP, 1987.

  • The standard edition for many years.

Abol Tabol: The Nonsense World of Sukumar Ray. Translated by Sampurna Chattarji. New Delhi: Puffin, 2004.

  • This edition, the most complete, also has works from Khapchhada, Bohurupee, Other Stories, Haw-Jaw-Baw-Raw-Law, Khai-Khai, and Pagla Dashu.

The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense, edited by Michael Heyman, with Sumanyu Satpathy and Anushka Ravishankar. New Delhi: Penguin, 2007.

  • This volume includes, among other Indian nonsense texts, several Ray translations by Chattarji, including some that are not in her solo edition of Abol Tabol.


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