A traditional musical art fair in West Bengal
Kenduli Mela is a traditional fair that celebrates the unique musical art of Baul community, a group of mystic minstrels, in Bengal. This fair is organized in Kenduli, the town of Birbhum district, the native land of Bauls. This festival begins with Makar Sankranti, on January 14, and ends on January 16. This is a three-day long affair that pulls crowd from all over the country. Kenduli is at a distance of about 40 km from serene Shantiniketan. So if you are planning to start your new year with something new and different, then this fair is a “must see” for you.
ATTRACTIONS OF KENDULI MELA
Kenduli is the birth place of the famous poet Jayadeva, the creator of Geet Govinda. The district of Birbhum, also known as the “lal matir desh” is the land of the Bauls and their divine music. The main attraction of this fair is the Bauls. Their music is said to be divine. Singers like Parvathy Baul have taken the art to the world too. Bauls are easy to identify. They wear saffron coloured robes with beads made of “tulsi” and have uncut, coiled hair. The major purpose of a Baul’s life is to spread the ecstatic form of folk music to the world and they lead a wanderer’s life, traveling from one place to another.
Holy dip in the river
Though Kenduli Mela is not as grand as the Gangasagar Mela, it has its own charms. This fair might not attract too much urban visitors or photographers, the local people themselves make this fair beautiful. The mornings are chaotic in this festival as people rush to take a holy dip in the River Ajoy. Geet Govinda is based on the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. It is the belief of the local people that anyone who takes a dip on this auspicious day in the River Ajoy has his /her wishes fulfilled. If you secretly love someone you know where to wish and pray!
The rituals of the festival are mainly carried out by the Bauls and the “sadhu-sanyasis” who arrive at the Mela and mark the beginning of the Mela. This is also known as “Agaman”. On this day, the holy bath in the River Ajoy takes place along with Bauls and Kirtaniyas singing in their “Akhras”. This ritual continues on the second day as well. On the third day, the Bauls and the Kirtaniyas visit each other’s Akhras. The fourth day is the final day. On this day the Mela breaks or ends. Bauls refer to this break as “Dhulat” which means dust. The Bauls believe that one day everything will end and turn into dust. That’s why they refer to the end of this festival as Dhulat. On this last day, the Bauls visit each other’s “Akhras” and celebrate with “Abir Khela” by putting coloured dust on each other. The day ends with a happy note by embracing each other.
It is said that poet Jayadev was a Shaivite and his wife Padmabati was a Vaishnavite. Their “Jugal Sadhna” inspired the poet to create Geet Govinda. Their paintings are the most popular thing that one can find in the stalls of this Mela. Other than that the fair has several stalls from eateries to clothes, cooking utensils to toys etc.
How to go
Bus service is available from Jambuni bus stand at Bolpur to Jaydev Kenduli. It will take around two hours. One can even hire a car from Bolpur which is around 40kms from Kenduli. Apart from this, one can even opt for train too. Several trains are there from Sealdah to Bolpur which will take around three hours. After that, the car and bus services are available from Bolpur.
Where to stay
Though many people choose to stay at the fair grounds, it is not advisable since the weather around January is way too cold. Local villagers rent out rooms and ashram accommodations are also available but they are not very comfortable. It is advisable to stay in Bolpur and travel to the fair.
So what are you waiting for? Visit this non-pretentious music festival today to have an experience of a lifetime.