New Delhi: Bauls of Bengal an integral part of the heritage of the State were showcased by the State Government at the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi on 67th Republic day. Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal and constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition.
Designed by Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee herself, the tableau portrayed rural Bengal through the model of a village, including a Bishnupur temple and terracotta statues. A team of 34 bauls, led by renowned singer Soumen Biswas of Murshidabad, would perform on the tableau.
The State Government decided to display Baul culture to also showcase the empowerment of folk artists through its Lok Prasar Prakalpa. Launched by the State information and Cultural Affairs Department, the scheme has enrolled 55,000 folk artists under it, and another 5,000 would be included by March. Under the scheme, the State Government provides a monthly retainer fee or pension (for artists aged above 60) of Rs 1,000 and an allowance of Rs 1,000 per performance. The Government wants to ensure that each artist gets a chance to give four performances a month.
All kinds of folk music and dance are being promoted by the State Government, so much so that the annual Biswa Bangla Lok Sanskriti Utsav (Folk Culture Festival) has been started from this year onward. The programme was recently held on a floating stage at Lal Dighi near Writers’ Buildings.
In 2014, West Bengal bagged the award for the best tableau for portraying Chhau dance of Purulia, which is a popular genre of Indian tribal martial dance. In 2013, Bengal’s theme was Basanta Utsav of Santiniketan and in 2012 it was the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
Meanwhile, the Republic Day celebrations at Red Road in Kolkata witnessed tableaus of the departments of Panchayat and Rural Development and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, under the Department of Commerce and Industries.