Posts Tagged ‘Bauls


সহিজযা বাউল উত্সব (Sahajiya Baul Utsav)

Bauls are the wandering minstrels, the mystics of Bengal enlighten by a divine madness.


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


From outcasted they became fashionable, à la mode. From tribal villagers to Bengali intellectuals or even Kolkata’s middle class, we’re all seeking the Bauls of Bengal *.


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


“Promiscuously borrowing cultural elements from the religious traditions around them—particularly Vaisnava Hinduism and Sufi Islam—while rejecting their prescriptive requirements, the Bauls’ personally oriented pursuit of spiritual perfection also made them reject caste. While such attitudes have caused them to be attacked by religious authorities and scholars, during the nineteenth century there arose an increasing interest in their musical traditions”**.


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


“For poet Rabindranath Tagore, the Bauls’ songs represented a quintessential element of Bengali culture and he, along with his colleague Kshitimohan Sen (grandfather of Amartya, another Nobel from Santiniketan!), emphasized the humanistic, anti-sectarian, and heterodox attitudes expressed in some of their songs, and Tagore particularly valued their poetic diction and musical qualities as a stimulus to his own artistic inspiration, even incorporating Baul characters into his plays and famously portraying them, himself, on stage in private performances.”**

















Ami ke bhaiami janlem na /Ami ami kari kintu ami amar thik haila na / Kotha haite alam ami, tare kai guni!”

“I haven’t discovered who I am, brother, / I keep saying “I”, but the “I” hasn’t really become mine. / Do I ever enquire where “I” have come from?”


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


Conversation with a Baul, on a river’s bank in Vikrrampur, East Bengal: “We follow the sahaj way (…) and so leave no trace behind us.” “Do the boats” the Baul continued, “that sail over the flooded river leave any mark? It is only the boatmen of the muddy track, urged on by their petty needs that leave a long furrow behind. This is not the sahaj way.”*


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of « Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity » by UNESCO.


Sahajiya Baul Utsav


Born in Murshidabad District, West Bengal, Paban Das is one of the few international Bauls, wandering between Paris and Bengal with his partner Mimlu Sen, author of Baulsphere – The Honey Gatherers, Random House, 2009. This year they’ve organised a two-days-&-nights festival – Sahajiya Baul Utsav in Lohagar – leaving their guests one short day rest after the tormented Joydeb Mela.


Sahajiya Baul Utsav Sahajiya Baul Utsav















Sahajiya Baul Utsav




Sahajiya Baul Utsav




Sahajiya Baul Utsav












* Seeking Bauls of Bengal, Jeanne OPENSHAW, Cambridge University Press, 2004

** from (Website based on the work of ethnomusicologists Charles Capwell, Shubha Chaudhuri, Daniel Neuman. Bauls performances and interviews, movies, texts and solid bibliography)


Sahajiya Baul Utsav

Other sources:

“Baulsphere” and “The Honey gatherers” by Mimlu Sen, Random House, 2009-2010

Moner Manush is a Bengali film directed by Goutam Ghose and based on the life and philosophy of Fakir Lalan Shah, noted spiritual leader, poet and folk singer of Bengal in the 19th century

En français:

“Bengale, l’Inde mystique”, Grands Reportages, n°345, août 2010—August-2010_18992.html






জয়দেব কেন্দুলি মেলা (Joydeb Kenduli Mela)

Did you really think that Indian countryside was a place to get rest? Well, at least not during “Makar Sankranti”!

There is a popular saying in Bengal: Baro Mase Tera Parban, literally “thirteen festivals in twelve months”. Makar Sankranti (or Poush Sankranti) is one of them, the major harvest festival in India. The transition of the sun from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn marks the beginning of a “holy phase” and holy is always a good opportunity to celebrate. New Melas and festivals, as multiplying bread, take place all over the state every year.

Held on the last day of the month of Poush (14th january) for many decenies, Joydeb Mela is mainly a music festival but as the Poush Mela it attracts craftsmen from the whole region, mainly selling wooden kitchen supplies, handmade covers or cheap jewellery. During 5 days, the 3 000 inhabitants of Kenduli Village welcome thousand and thousand of pilgrims who come mostly to listen to the bauls, the Wandering minstrels, the Mad Ones, bearers of a unique musical tradition, included in the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

The fair is held on the banks of the Ajay River which is not only of some historical interest – the fair celebrates the great poet Jayadeva on the day he is claimed to have taken a bath at the Kadaambokhandi ghat of the river around 800 years ago – but also quite convenient as the joyful intruders are summarily accommodated in tents and huts, lacking proper sanitation system.

I couldn’t assist to the mela but I’ve got there just on time for the festival-goer’s last bath and last meal. Quite magical to wander on the river’s bank between those half-naked bodies, men, women, children, elders all together taking that “holy dip”. More than their “sins”, I think it is the fatigue of those nuit et jour festivities that they’re eager to wash from their bodies and mind before jumping on the roof of a much-too-crowded bus.

Striding along one of many temporary venelle, you’re suddenly caught into a crowd attracted to one man of imposing stature shouting “tumi khabe? Tumi khabe?”. This is the free lunch distribution. I’ve dared to take a glimpse above a plastic tent before being dragged myself into one of those improvised cantines.

And after a substantial meal of rice, dal and vegs – unless your gourmandise and temerity drove you to a stall of deep-fried-anything – the mere sight of those désuets manèges makes you a little dizzy…

Joydeb Mela brought to you by…