Looking at those people singing on the stage, wearing a knee-length attire kept me wondering, why do they choose a life like that?
Bauls..... that is how the world knows them, are basically the wandering monks, but there are many who taunt them as vagabonds.
Renouncing wealth and proclaiming love is what they tune their life with. But don’t they need money to live a life? What is this life they look for even in this world where 2 months baby get raped or a man is killed because of his religion?
Sitting on the straws under a tent in a winter evening, I was enthralled watching them performing at the Baul Fakir Utsav, 2018. But these questions hovered my mind all the time.
This 2-day congress brings Bauls from various corners of Bengal. The embracing, selfless voice without an ego is enticing; and maybe that is what captures the heart most. You have to listen every word to understand what they want to convey. They talk of humanity, unity, truth of life, basic living and love. They sing songs of Lalan Fakir and their Gurus, they sing their own creation while whirling with their musical instruments lost in translating the meaning of life.
Wearing an ocher-colored attire and playing an Ektara doesn’t make a Baul. A real Baul lives a life based on Deho Sadhana, and Mana Sadhana, and that is not easy. Some say, they live a repulsive life, whereas, some say they are free birds.
This Utsav starts at 6 am in the morning and ends at 4 am. You can hop in at any point of time, only if you want to understand them.
A song is not only made of music, but it combines words as well. So when you hear them, listen to what they say. The songs have a rustic touch without any classy elements, yet very true to every strata of society. Bauls never bind themselves to the conservatism existing in the society and their songs reflect that belief.
A Baul once said, “The entire world is my home. We walk anywhere and are welcome anywhere. When you walk, you are freed from the worries of ordinary life, from the imprisonment of being rooted in the same place."
It is hard to realize what the Bauls have achieved, but these so called illiterate dancing monks are way more learned than the mass, and you can tell that from their songs. So, if you are in Shantiniketan during the time of Keduli Mela, or if you are in Kolkata during the Baul Fakir Utsav, give yourself a chance to experience the divine, love, mysticism from the earthen voices of the vagabonds and step into a land of fraternity.