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Baul Music

Bauls are the traditional folk singers of West Bengal, India, who sang their way into the hearts of the villagers with their mellifluous songs with a mystic aura. The Bauls have their own distinct religious belief as a mixture of Hinduism, Sufism and Yoga. At the same time, they have kept a good distance from any kind of religious establishments that existed in the Indian society.

Baul Music is the music of the Bauls and is essentially folk in nature. These songs are intricately woven into the rich and diverse cultural history of Bengal. Bauls use a number of musical instruments to embellish their compositions. The most common instrument is the "ektara", a one-stringed drone instrument. It is the carved from the epicarp of a gourd, and made of bamboo and goatskin. Dotara, dugi, dhol, Kol, Kartal and Mandira are some other instruments used and all these instruments are noted for their traditional simplicity.

In the video, it is Parvathi Baul, an artist who is largely responsible for the revival and spread of this art form, presenting Baul music. She is one of the very few women practicing Baul. An alumnus of Santi Niketan, she has taken this good old tradition of folk-cum-mystic music to countries like Japan, USA, France and Switzerland.

Baul music has also the distinction of being one of those art forms which is nominated by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the 'Oral and Intangible Tradition of Humanity'