Posts Tagged ‘Santal


সাওতাল গাইযে় (Santali singer)

Just a short interlude musical to entertain you while I process the hundreds of images and tunes that have invaded my head, body and hard disk those last few dense days of Push Sankranti.

I’ve met this young but tempered singer last summer in a village near Illambazar, West Bengal. Her ballade and gestures stayed on my mind ever since. She is a proud little Santal, the largest tribal community in India, and sings in Santali, the language they managed to preserve despite waves of migrations and invasions such as Aryan, Hun, Mughals, Europeans.

More on the santali people, who is part of Santiniketan’s vie quotidienne, coming soon!


শান্তিনিকেতন (Santiniketan)

That’s where i should have started. I should have started with this map from french aquarellist and traveller Titouan Lamazou’s carnet de voyage through India. I was a town planner in a former life, i should have located my Santitown.


I should have started with the story of this beloved land and its original owners, the Tagore family. The story of the father, Debendranath, who found the place so peaceful that he renamed it the “abode of peace”, Santi-niketan, and founded it’s ashram, Upasana Griha, in 1863. The story of the son, Rabindranath, who believed in the good deeds of Nature on Education and started Patha Bhavana, the school of his ideals. This idealism and a humble nature, reflected in his work – poems, writings on education, philosophy – granted him the Nobel Price in 1913. The school became one of the central universities of India and it reputation of excellence and avant-garde attracted illustrious students as Indira Gandhi, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen.


I should have started with Tagore’s own words describing Santiniketan’s quietude.

“A shadeless red-earth road led to Bolpur along the eastern edge of the Ashram. Few used that road as the town was still uncrowded with only small number of houses in it. The rice mills had not yet started to darken the skies with their smoke or to poison our food. There was a total rest and quiet everywhere… In this quiet and sparsely populated garden of sal trees I started, with the help of Brahmabandhob Upadhyay, and with a handful of boys, a school for children. I used to teach underneath an old jam tree.”