Kenduli Mela is held at Kenduli in Birbhum district in January, known for congregation of ‘Bauls’ or wandering minstrels of Bengal.
Fairs and Festivals are like a breath of fresh air that provides relief from the drudgery of everyday existence. Indians in particular are very fond of mirth and merry making.
The Kenduli Mela is a fair held in Kenduli, birth place of the famous poet Jaidev in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Kenduli is at a distance of about 42 km from serene Shantiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s abode of peace.
The Kenduli Mela in Birbhum is most well known for the gathering of the Bauls, a group of mystic minstrels. They are the bearers of a unique musical tradition, who are identified by their saffron attire and distinctive musical instrument, the Ektara.
Bauls have the proud distinction of being included in the list of ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ says UNESCO.
The Baul community earns their livelihood by singing. The most interesting characteristic of their songs is that they convey profound philosophical view points of life using simple expressions.
They dexterously use inoffensive expressions in place of the ones considered offensive and yet succeed in evincing their view point. You have the scope to listen to them if you visit the Kenduli Mela in Birbhum.
The Kenduli Mela in Birbhum gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the music of these wandering minstrels who believe in the simplicity of love and life. You are sure to be impressed by their magnetic performances.
The Kenduli Mela in Birbhum is held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. This occurs each year in mid January. You are sure to enjoy this premiere festival of the Bauls who are indeed cultural assets of the land.
The Cultural Fair, Joydev Kenduli Mela, is organized in memory of the saint poet Jayadeva on the occasion of Poush Sankranti or Makar Sankranti. It starts on the last day of the Bengali calendar month, Poush and continues up to 2 Magh.
The start of the fair commemorates the auspicious day on which Jayadeva is claimed to have taken a bath at the Kadaambokhandi Ghat of the local Ajay river at the village of Jaydev Kenduli.
In 1982, the district authorities took control of the fair to provide a better environment, a good sanitation system, drinking water, lighting and security.
Several thousand Bauls, a community of wandering minstrels who sing devotional songs to the music of the Ektara (one stringed instrument), assemble at the fair. Therefore the fair is also referred to as Baul Fair.
The Bauls stay in 160 temporary hermitages at Jaydev Kenduli for around a month. These Bauls appear to have inherited the legacy of Saint Jayadeva’s songs.
However, in recent years, the greatest Baul fair of the state is gradually losing its character, as the Bauls have been outnumbered by Kirtanias, who too perform in the Mela to gain popularity.
The fair, which is believed to be centuries old, caters primarily to the entertainment and joy of the village folks. Everything from cooking utensils to fishing nets are sold in the fair.