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The Bauls of West Bengal

India has been a land where the ways of life have constantly and organically evolved. In its pluralistic existence, traditions, rituals and customs have remained largely integral to life, and often these have, with cross-cultural influences, morphed into new streams of philosophical thought, spiritual flavour and artistic expression with amazing diversity.

The Baul dancers, are a fine example of a wandering tribe from West Bengal, in Eastern India, that perform in open spaces, much like the modern-day Street Theatre, expressing through song and dance, the dialectic between Man and Divinity. The instruments are fairly simple and primitive yet highly effective. The string instrument that accompanies the singer is a single-string, Ek-tara” and the Dubli or a sort of dholak. The dancers make-up and costumes are elaborate in keeping with the lofty subject that engages them and all humanity, ie, the human predicament.

The performances are always engaging, soulful and dramatic as the clip below:

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