Enjoy Soulful Baul Music At This Upcoming Fair In Bengal

Language is not a bar when it comes to enjoying the songs sung by this itinerant minstrels of West Bengal
Photo credit neelsky / Shutterstock.com
Photo credit neelsky / Shutterstock.com

Kenduli, a small village in Birbhum district of West Bengal is known for its annual Baul Mela, held in mid-January, when the traditional itinerant singers, the Baul, assemble to pay their respect to the 12th century poet Joydev and engage in night long musical performances. But if you have missed it or not able to attend it during that time, here is another opportunity to enjoy the company of the singers and listen to their soulful music.

Since 2014, Baul Ashram in Bannabagram in Burdwan district of West Bengal, is hosting a congregation of the Baul musicians. This year, it will be held from November 25 to 27 at the Ashram, which is about 150km by road from Kolkata.

Singing Baul songs and being a practising Baul are two different things, said Amitava Bhattacharya, founder and full-time director of Banglanatak dot com, under whose aegis the fair at Bannabagram is being organised. &lsquoBaul is a philosophy and music. Baul music celebrates humanity, urges people to overcome the barrier of religion, caste, creed,&rdquo he said, &ldquoIt is not religious music but spiritual music.&rdquo Metaphors are the most interesting part of Baul song.

The genre of Baul music the Indian system of guru-shishya parampara (the teacher-student tradition). The congregation at Bannabagram will be attended by nearly 250 participants, including teachers and musicians from 33 akharas in West Bengal.

Apart from West Bengal in India, Bangladesh too has a large number of Baul followers. In 2008, Baul songs of Bangladesh was inscribed on UNESCO&rsquos Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2005). &lsquoThe Bauls are mystic minstrels living in rural Bangladesh and West Bengal, India,&rsquo the note acknowledges.

So if you are fond of traditional music and want to know more about the Bauls of Bengal, a visit to Bannabagram is a must. The Ashram, located at the edge of a forest, is a destination by itself. Spread over 1.13 acre of land, it is surrounded by greenery, has simple but clean and comfortable stay facilities, a restaurant, etc. You may also combine a visit to Bannabagram with a visit to Shantiniketan (Bolpur is about 25km away by road).

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