Music that could go on forever

 Under the canopy of an old raintree in the courtyard of the Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin, the earthy Bauls were in their element; singing of god, love and longing. Baul music goes back a long way. The sect of musicians from West Bengal combine heterogeneous spiritual and religious traditions, a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sufi Islam — probably a good message for our fragmented societies today. The Baul community, which according to some sources, can be traced back a millennia, profess universal brotherhood and refuse differences of race, caste and religion. They wander from village to village detached from worldly possessions, except for their instruments.

 

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Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable, and their music has also influenced popular Indian music.

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Baul music is unlike other traditional Indian classical music. It does not take recourse in classical instruments, such as the sitar and tabla.

 

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The group of five performing at the Brunton, showed off their simple instruments to the rapt audience. The ancient accompaniments were as simple as their singing - an ‘ektara’ has only one string while a ‘dotara’ has two - apart from their distinctive percussion, called the ‘dubki’.

 

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The Bauls sing with emotion and with joy, breaking into dance every now and then. Their singing is unrestricted by time and they can host performances that stretch across days. Their gypsy-likeclothes and carefree style add to the whole effect of freedom. 

Image Gallery: Baul concert

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