Baul singers

A unique opportunity to meet six authentic master players and singers of one of the most fascinating musical cultures known to mankind, listed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list.

The Bauls are not rare: in Bengal, the historical land lying between Bangladesh and Indian West Bengal, you can see them everywhere. They wear typical colourful robes and speak their own language. Their songs are sung to the accompaniment of the ektara, basically a single-string lute, and the dotara is more of a mandolin with four strings. The khamak is a drum, played by pulling out a string to a certain rhythm. This produces a sound comparable to “the burp of a monkey that just ate a frog”. Among these, the harmonium, bamboo flutes, the dhol drum or cymbals seem rather normal. What is essential for Baul songs is poetry and its deep and universal message, overshadowing the dogmas of Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism: the Bauls refuse to identify with any organised religion, to build temples and worship gods, thus being very similar to the Sufi mystics. They believe that God exists in the body and is reachable by everyone, and in many ways: songs, ecstatic music, mysterious rituals and exercises. The word Baul means crazy, possessed or stricken with a holy blessing.