Folk artists in West Bengal spread the message of communal harmony.March 13th, 2008 - 4:39 pm ICT by admin
By Soma Mitra
Birbhum, Mar 13 (ANI): Traditional musicians in West Bengal, known as the ‘Bauls’ continue to spread the message of communal harmony through their devotional hymns.
Strumming the lute and beating the tambourine, these folk performers draw attention and do not seek alms. Since time immemorial, they have been educating people and addressing various social issues.
Donning yellow or orange garbs with the symbolic red ribbon, these singers are well known for their incomparable style of folk song presentation.
These wandering minstrels of Birbhum District enthrall their audience wherever they go.
“It is one of the intriguing features of the culture and heritage of Bengal and what inspires and aspires me most is the fact that these people, the Bauls, have got a rich culture,” said Arup Banerjee, a local listening to the Baul music in a train.
The catchy rhythm and the easy to understand lyrics instantly captivate the masses who listen to the songs in rapt attention.
Some say that the ancient art form originated during the Aryan civilization while others say it was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a monk and a social reformer who was the inspiration.
Nonetheless, it is surprising that even today, the Bauls, survive on whatever little they get from the locals in the form of rice, vegetables or clothes.
The Bauls who can be seen performing in trains, buses, on streets, in villages have in the past undertaken the mammoth task of spreading awareness about deadly diseases like AIDS and cancer through their songs and musical street plays.
“We educate people through our music. We, the Bauls, sing songs that have an element of devotion, an element of love, a message of belongingness, we talk about the courtship between lovers. We are taking forward the legacy that has been bequeathed by our ancestors. It is our duty. We go from one village to another and entertain people with our music,” said Gopal Das Baul, a Baul musician.
Among the Bauls, family members including women and children gather in the backyard of the hut and practice music for hours.
The Bauls do not receive any formal training but inherit the art form and music sense from the elders.
Interestingly, even the musical instruments like Ektara and Kahamak, the two main traditional instruments, are made by the Bauls themselves.
In Birbhum District, which is home to 5000 Baul families, the day breaks with musical notes and the setting sun has been a witness to the musical rhythms since ages. (ANI)
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