Baul Fakir Utsav, Kolkata’s biggest annual celebration of the artistic diversity and cultural heritage of Baul and Fakiri tradition, celebrated its 15th year on 11th and 12th January 2020 in Kolkata. Over 120 artists from throughout West Bengal and Bangladesh gathered for two days and nights to perform and share their techniques, inspiration and, of course, bond with a predominantly urban audience and followers.
Today the ‘Baul’ and ‘Fakiri’ songs of Bengal need no introduction. Once limited to rural mystic and exotic experience now has a broadened urban following. In 2008, UNESCO included the Baul tradition in the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Even though these mystic minstrels comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable. The Baul Fakiri Music tradition is one such art form where the artists offer themselves and their creations for one’s mind and heart to flow. For years, the visiting bauls and fakirs have entertained and encouraged us to open our thoughts and made us aware of the collective efforts that is our responsibility towards the community.
The Utsav or the ‘festival’ provides a platform for celebration of nation’s heritage targeted at large audiences as well as subtle artistic interventions, which engage with themes of identity, community cohesion, peace, social inclusion and sharing of public space in the future. The festival also offers opportunity for socio-economic benefits to local communities, as a source of employment along with national and international exposure. An official estimation of 20000 plus music and cultural enthusiasts attend this festival on a regular basis. Over 100 volunteers from Kolkata including artists, musicians and technicians help produce a wonderful experience. A cultural landmark by itself this unique festival presents a platter of cultural experience at the heart of our City of Joy. Footfalls include an eclectic mix of eminent personalities from corporate, film, theatre, television, media, art, students from various universities along with music lovers from all walks of life.
This festival is organised by a group of like-minded people solely out of love for this traditional art form and heritage, thus we are largely dependent on self-funding and personal donations in addition to advertising and in-kind contribution from the community. All proceeds go towards organising this festival and welfare of number of Bauls and Fakirs who are in urgent need of financial and health support. The Baul Fakir Utsav Samity Trust conducts yearlong activities towards welfare of these artists and curation of this heritage.
This year’s Special Line Up
Day 1 – Saturday, 11 January 2020
2 Pm. Onward
Golam Fakir (Nadia)
Lakshman Das Baul
Day 2 – Sunday, 12 January 2020
2 Pm. Onward
Paban Das (tbc)
Golam Fakir (Murshidabad)