The competitive presentation of tableaus in the 67th Republic Day Parade, this year, saw the display of a variety of tableaus from different states of the country among which the tableau of West Bengal, showcasing ‘Bauls of Bengal’, has been adjudged as the Best Tableau by the panel of judges from the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar conferred the award at a ceremony in Rashtriya Rangshala Camp on Thursday in the national Capital. R D Meena, Principal Resident Commissioner, Government of West Bengal, and R N Basu Roychoudhury, Director of Information, Government of West Bengal, received the honour on behalf of Government of West Bengal.
The Bauls, the wandering minstrels of Bengal, represent a distinctive spiritual and musical tradition that had its roots in the Bhakti and Sufi movement.
The folk singers, coming both from Hindu and Muslim communities, spread the ideals of peace, brotherhood and mystic philosophy through simple words and metaphors. Baul is not a religion, but rather a way of life. Ignoring all kinds of religious and ritualistic autocracy, social stigma and caste barriers, Bauls try to find their Mon Amie (my love) or Moner Manush (Man of the Soul or the Infinite Self) through music. Ektara, Dotara, Khamak, Nupur, Premjuri, Dubki etc. are commonly used instruments of Baul music. Baul singers travel from one village to another or sometimes stay in akharas or monasteries.
Traditionally, Baul songs talk about the relationship between man and the Supreme Being and the ways to attain spiritual liberation. But in recent times, their music also conveys social messages and creates awareness about government schemes in villages of Bengal. They are an integral part of the Lok Prasar Prakalpa scheme of West Bengal, under which financial assistance is being provided to folk artistes.
The Baul genre has been recognised among the ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO. The West Bengal tableau this year was accompanied by the song Sob Loke Koy Lalon Ki Jaat of legendary Baul exponent-Lalon Fakir. A team of 24 Baul singers from various districts of West Bengal performed on the tableau.
Earlier also, in the Republic Day Parade-2014, the tableau of West Bengal, portraying the theme of ‘Purulia Chhau Dance’, was adjudged the best.