Baul Fakir Utsav in Kolkata

#1 Nov 14th, 2011, 18:24
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Bauls are Bengal's versions of Sufi musicians existing for centuries and was brought to world stage for first time by none other that Rabindra Nath Tagore.

from wiki:
Baul (Bengali: বাউল, are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal. Bauls constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition. Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many sects, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims.[1][2] They can often be identified by their distinctive clothes and musical instruments. Not much is known of their origin. Baul music had a great influence on Rabindranath Tagore's poetry and on his music (Rabindra Sangeet).[3]
Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable. In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.[4]



Baul Fakir Utsav is a 48 hr continuous music festival held in the month of January in south Kolkata (Saktigarh, Jadavpur).
facebook link
google map of venue link:

The 7th version of festival will be held from 7-Jan (10 am) to 9-Jan (8 am) 2012 - it will be a 48 hour non-stop event with Baul Fakir stalwarts from West Bengal and Bangladesh.
~Khak~

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#2 Nov 14th, 2011, 18:34
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news article on baul music gaining acceptance in cosmopolitan Kolkata

http://www.telegraphindia.com/111052...y_14011336.jsp
#3 Nov 14th, 2011, 18:43
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Thank you for sharing the information.
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#4 Nov 14th, 2011, 20:56
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Year before last when I went with a lot of enthusiasm to the festival I was shocked to find most of the organisers completely drunk - I personally know some of them - and some of the bauls too have now become alcoholic. The first thing that Gaur Khepa told me, when I went to see him after some 20 years was "amar mod koi?" "where is my liquor"?
I beat a hasty retreat promising never to go back.
A couple of decades ago when I was a regular and avid listener of baul music they used to smoke weed, which is part of their tradition and culture. But alcohol used to be taboo. But now those values have gone with the wind.
I had a tremendous cultural shock at the festival.
#5 Nov 14th, 2011, 21:20
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Damn. Hope the drinking hasn't affected their music- or that unique bhakti/suphi fervour. That would be a pity.
#6 Nov 14th, 2011, 22:11
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The congregation of Fakirs from Bangladesh was a major attraction though. That kind of gathering of Fakirs from BD doesn't happen anywhere in India and for me it was a first. Bangladeshi Fakirs, I found, all play the violin !!! That was a curious finding for me.
#7 Nov 15th, 2011, 03:58
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I thought both weed and drink are OK with Bauls? Not surprised to hear of them drinking. Don't they commonly flout any taboos and dogmas and traditions? (Well, they'll go by their own "sub"-culture, of course. Which may well vary among sub-sects, I think.)

Of course the idea would ideally not be to become an alcoholic, or a dopehead for that matter.

Anyway, thanks for your posts, Khak. Hope to make it to this festival one day At the Joyadeb Mela so many years ago, me no longer smoking we sure boom-shankared it up on bangla (Bengali arrack, i.e., an Indian hard liquor, to the outsider reader) instead with some local attendants, though strictly Bauls these will not have been. Although related to some local ashram which I was made to understand was somehow affiliated to them they were.
#8 Nov 15th, 2011, 14:49
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Got information on another Sufi music festival held in Kolkata - Sufi Sutra.

Details of next event given below
Sufi Sutra

Time Friday, 03 February 2012 at 11:00 - Sunday, 05 February 2012 at 22:30
LocationMohar Kunja, Kolkata

3 days International Sufi Music Carnival. Workshop at daytime and concert in the evening. 9-12 teams to participate, including International and National ones. Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Azerbaijan, UAE, Denmark, Kashmir, Nizamuddin to play. Over 50000 audience expected. Songlines (Europe's leading music magazine) partnering for sufi exhibition and will cover the festival. National Geographic to cover the festival. ICCR and UNESCO partners.

website: http://banglanatak.com/
#9 Nov 15th, 2011, 14:58
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Bauls used to believe in a few absolute truths about their lifestyle - never leave your kaupin and never drink liquor. Stick to your profession of "madhukari" - which is a euphemism for begging. This philosophy was explained to me by Gaur Khepa himself about 30 years ago in Shantiniketan. He used to take pride in explaining to me and others how he survived in cold Poland (then a Communist state) without drinking a drop of liquor when he went there sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. And how he never let go of his kaupin - a certain hand made brief that sanyasis wear.
He used to smoke weed like a chain smoker smokes cigarettes.
Today Gaur Khepa is an alcoholic and many of his sponsors are too. Many of his brethren are alcoholic too. Some of the older "pure" bauls are still part of the old school and detest liquor. But the younger generation has lost its scrupules.
I am not a puritan or prudish about these things but when a community gets detached from its roots and culture it leaves me very sad and disillusioned.
#10 Nov 15th, 2011, 23:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calcuttan View Post A couple of decades ago when I was a regular and avid listener of baul music they used to smoke weed, which is part of their tradition and culture. But alcohol used to be taboo. But now those values have gone with the wind.
Smoking weed is ok because it is "part of their tradition and culture", but drinking somehow means losing all values and scruples?!
.
#11 Nov 15th, 2011, 23:16
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Suricate - I am not passing any value judgement on whether it is good or bad to smoke weed or drink liquor or adopt begging as a profession. I am saying Bauls had a certain culture and lifestyle based on age old tradition and customs. They are deviating from that in the modern era.

If some tribal community members who walk around naked, started wearing jeans (as it has happened in Andaman & Nicobar and in many places around the world) I would be equally shocked.

That does not necessarily mean I am advocating nudity for every one or I am saying nudity is good or bad.

PS: By the way, those who are drinking haven't given up smoking ;-)
#12 Nov 16th, 2011, 01:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khak View Post Got information on another Sufi music festival held in Kolkata - Sufi Sutra.
OK Khak, that's it. India, next stop: Kolkata & surrounds Jan.-Feb.
#13 Jan 9th, 2012, 14:02
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I attended baul fakir utsav on sunday......attaching some pictures.

Almost all famous baul fakirs based in west bengal were there.......also big group from bangladesh and paris based paban das baul & mimlu sen......it was a fantastic experience.....

there was big turnaround of crowds inspite of incessant rains........apart from main stage the bauls were also performing in their own akharas.....

grass and booze were seen but only in the corners away from main crowd...it did not affect experience of pure music lovers......

this is a must event see for folk music movers of Kolkata
Attached Images
bfk1.jpg bfk2.jpg bfk3.jpg 
#14 Jan 9th, 2012, 14:36
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Lovely pics, thank you Khak for posting. (Pity no musical accompaniment............)
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#15 Feb 3rd, 2012, 11:28
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by capt_mahajan View Post Damn. Hope the drinking hasn't affected their music- or that unique bhakti/suphi fervour. That would be a pity.
this is the point ! And, I am more or less regular in their Program of Holi (there are some threads in IM) and Sufi Sutra is again a nice event..... we are really not that worried about who is drunk or who is taking narcotics or whatever; it is all about their "performance". So far I am able to enjoy their performance safely with my friends/family members .... I am happy.

Today is the opening day of Sufi Sutra 2012 : Click Here...

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