Every year, since 2006, Kolkata has been witnessing an international urban conglomeration of predominantly rural folk performers from India and Bangladesh. Known as the Baul Fakir Utsav, a festival to celebrate the ethos and tradition of a group of mystic minstrels from either side of the border, whose membership mainly consists of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims. Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable.
In 2008, the Baul tradition was included in the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.
The festival came into being when a group of cultural enthusiasts decided to revive the art form of folk music which was losing its charm due to lack of soulful listeners, interest and investment. The entire event was self-sponsored by a group of like-minded people and associates, completely out of love for this traditional art form. The Baul Fakir Music tradition is one such art form where the artists offer themselves and their creations for one’s mind and heart to flow, and such events help us to open our thoughts and make us aware of the encouraging combined efforts that is our responsibility towards the community.
After a decade of existence, in view of Baul Fakir Utsav’s popularity and relevance in today’s world and impact on the youths and the general cultural scenario in Kolkata, in 2017 Baul Fakir Utsav Samity Trust was formed to continue this journey. In addition to organising the Utsav and preserve the cultural heritage of Calcutta, the trust also aims to support the Bauls and Fakirs through financial backing and health care arrangements.
- Organising the Annual Baul Fakir Utsav
- Curating festival content, other researched discussions and performances, and making it available for academic purposes and general viewing, guided by current intellectual property rights and ethical considerations
- Promoting, upholding and sustaining the baul and fakiri culture, sect and folk form in the region and other countries (e.g. Bangladesh).
- Supporting and facilitating welfare activities for the bauls and fakirs – e.g. Emergency medical help, long term and short-term treatment, retirement support, family education and legal support
- Linking with other bhakti and spiritual music traditions, artists and audience of the world
- Promoting social consciousness, volunteerism and cooperation
We are located in Jadavpur, Kolkata close to the festival area. However, through our supporters, volunteers and trustees we work in Birbhum, Murshidabad, Nadia and Jalpaigudi districts in West Bengal. Our performers come from 8 districts of West Bengal, Kabir-singers of central India or the Sufi qawwals from various states like Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. We also have a large contingent coming from Bangladesh, especially from Kusthia, Sylhet and Faridpur.
List of Trustee & Governing Body Members
2019 – 2020
- Paramita Bhattacharyya (President), Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and cultural activist
- Meghendranath Bandyopadhyay (Secretary), Development sector professional
- Arpita Ghosh (Treasurer), Government servant, Artist and cultural enthusiast
- Anandarup Ghosh, Entrepreneur and cultural activist
- Nitai Ch. Das, Noted artist and follower of baul tradition
- Kartik Das Baul, Noted artist and follower of baul tradition
- Dilip Ghosh, Noted artist, entrepreneur and cultural enthusiast
- Manas Acharya, Noted artist and singer, cross border cultural activist
- Samrat Singh, School teacher, painter, noted singer and follower of fakiri tradition
- Goethe Institute
- Alliance Francaise
- Lalon Charcha Kendra (Bangladesh)
- Lalon Academy Kusthia (Bangladesh)
- Deputy High Commission Bangladesh
- Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC)
- Jadavpur University
- Satyajit Ray Film Institute
- ICCR, Kolkata
- The Travelling Archive
- Fiddlers Green