Baul Fakir Utsav at Jadavpur
by Sampurna Chakraborty
It all started with a discussion among friends, about how the art form of folk music is slowly losing its charm just due to the lack of soulful listeners. And therefore it was decided that with a collective initiation, these friends, formally called The Baul Fakir Utsav Committee, will organize a Baul Fakir Utsav (Music Festival) in the city.
Since 2006, Kolkata has been witnessing the festival for six years in a row. Musicians like Paban Das Baul, Shashthi Khyapa, Ranjit Gosain, Biswanath Das Baul, Gour Khyapa, Kalachand Darbesh, Debdas Baul, Mansur Fakir, Lalan Fakir from Patharchapuri, Arjun Khyapa, Kartik Das Baul, Chandrabati Ray Burman from Sylhet along with the entire community practicing this traditional art form, has been a part of this festival. Undoubtedly, the festival has gained popularity with time and 2010 was marked by success as it crossed borders and welcomed performers from Bangladesh. This year too, a team of performers from Kushtia and Sylhet added lure to the festival along with Shahjahan Munshi from Manikganj, Dhaka, Farezuddin and Moyna from Silchar next to other regular performers, from 8th January to 11th January, 2011. One also cannot avoid the increasing participation and enthusiasm that has escalated among the listeners. My eyes could locate people from various walks of life entering this musical islet of Baul Fakir Utsav at Shaktigarh in Jadavpur, south Kolkata.
The committee has also initiated a journal called Arshinagar from this year which will account for the Baul Fakir Music tradition. With this we can expect a serious and necessary discourse on the practice that might evolve. Another significant effort is the publication of Lalan Fakir's biography by Abul Ahsan Chowdhury by Gangchil publications which was until now not available in this part of Bengal. Sharing of such noteworthy assets will undoubtedly strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Here I would like to bring into notice of the readers that, as this event is not supported by any Government or corporate bodies but by a group of like-minded people and associates, completely out of love for this traditional art form, there are certain responsibilities that one should be aware of as in a community. Most of us are conscious, that certain traditional art forms and practices of our country are fading out, just due to the lack of interest, alertness, and investment.
The Baul Fakir Music tradition is one such art form where the artists offer themselves and their creations for our minds and hearts to flow and I believe such events will help us to open up our thoughts and make us aware of the encouraging combined efforts that is our responsibility towards the community.