Posts Tagged ‘Paban Das Baul


Route2Festival, a revolution underway

150222 Route2Festival Flyer2

Some might call it a “revolution”, others an “experiment” or a “beautiful initiative”.

Whatever it was, we loved it!

150222 Route2Festival PorgramWho had the idea first? Who took the first step? Who knows, who cares.

They were a bunch of friends, they had a dream and they made it happen.

150222 Sougata Roy C

 “Traditional to modern. Experimental to post-modern”

The whole experience rested on 4 solid pillars:

eco-friendly // collective // experimental // non-profit

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And – of course – a wonderful selection of artists and performers.

(Both on-stage and in the audience actually)

150222 Sougata Roy C.4 Day 2 of the festival began peacefully with a morning raga performed by Sougata Roy Chowdhury – eminent sarod player – Subhajyoti Guha on tablas and Hania on tampura. 150222 Sougata Roy C.3 Although the strong sun wasn’t very good for the instruments, they played beautifully and set up the bar high for the upcoming artists. 150222 Edith1 150222 Babli After this first performance, festival-goers had time to relax and discover the place: Babli farm, also an experimental initiative located at the edge of what remained of the “Choupahari Jungle”, near Santiniketan. Organic farming, guest-house and canteen, it is NOT-A-RESORT. 150222 Resting area1 Route2Festival’s team worked very hard to accommodate the place the best way possible for the festival-goers and one of their best ideas was this semi-underground resting place. We felt at home and among friends. But that’s maybe because we were!150222 Kaushik's magic1Rest, board-games, make-up and… Kaushik’s magic tricks which let us all bouche née, speechless. By the way Kaushik, we are still trying to figure out how you did it!! 150222 Kaushik's magic6 150222 Make up1 Young parents will have to admit, another great idea the hosts had was the “kids corner”. Quite unusual in India, well thought, the little ones had a blast and we had a break. 150222 Kids corner2

150222 Monami NandiThe program went on with a dance performance by Monami Nandi along with Titas Sen and Anshuman dey. Interesting mix of traditional and contemporary performance. 150222 Monami Nandi12Monami reminded us of those devi who ornament Konarak Sun temple’s bas reliefs, great sensuality and a hint of kinkiness. 150222 Monami Nandi' 150222 Audience Blue stageMoved to the “Blue arena”, the audience could attend to Krishnakali, a performance by Alternative Living Theatre. Little too dark and experimental for some, an interesting and unexpected experience in any case. 150222 Alternative Living theatre5And there she came, Parvati Baul, singer, painter and storyteller from West Bengal. 150222 Parvati BaulBorn as Mousumi Pairal in a traditional bengali family, she was not intended to become a Baul, a wanderer, a mad-woman. Trained as a hindustani singer and dancer, Parvati crossed path with Phulmala Dashi, a woman Baul singer, while she was studying in Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. She embraced the Baul‘s living tradition with all her soul. 150222 Parvati Baul8A high-pitched voice, an incredible energy, an unbelievable long hair and very strange psychedelic background. She put a spell on us all and set the mood for a frenzied evening. 10911264_1615618482002459_5703698536301150669_oNice little surprise of this festival: Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao, a beautiful and dreamy animation movie who captivated the audience from 2 to 92 years old. 150222 Gitanjali Rao5The organizers had planned another screening but, due to the presence of very young souls, they cancelled the second movie. Anyway, it was time to head back to the Green stage for another incredible performance. 150222 Sound2 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki9Believe it or not, the first time I crossed path with Nathu Lal Solanki was 8 years ago in a small apartment of a residential area in New Delhi. The tenant was almost evicted for him place after this master drummer from Rajasthan shaked the edifice’s walls with his powerful beat. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki6The Nagara player – traditional drum from Rajasthan – came with the vocalist Chugge Khan and both were accompanied for the first time by the bengali sarangi player, Debashish Haldar. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki12And the magic worked! The young and not-so-young got up and dance. The bengali ladies forgot all propriety and shaked their… saris. Vibrant. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki Dance2As usual, it’s not easy to pass on the atmosphere using still images and words.

As usual, the best happens off-stage, behind the scene. Unexpected encounters, bonding, fusion… Seeds are thrown and new opportunities might arise. 150222 Parvati Baul&Nathoo Lal Solanki1And on a complete different registre, Jazzeando kept us up and dancing. A french drummer, an north-indian key-board performer and a new-yorker vocalist who got together in West-Bengal to share a common passion for latin-jazz. 150222 Jazzeando1The night was still young, but some of us even younger. We had to head home even before  the lights and sound were off and festival-goers found the way back to their tents and bungalows for a good night of sleep among the trees. 150222 Jazzeando3

So, after this wonderful first experiment, what’s next?


Siempre que te pregunto

Que cuando, como y donde

Tu siempre me respondes

Quizas, quizas, quizas

150222 Babli7

Long live Route2Festival!

10273203_1600909590140015_6731538105881015550_o To learn more about Route2Festival and some of the artists mentioned above: – Route2Festival: – Sougata Roy Chowdhury: – Parvati Baul: – Gitanjali Rao: – Nathu Lal Solanki: – Jazzeando:


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