GB exclusive on Joideb Kenduli Mela
The Joideb Kenduli Mela, as it is called, is held every year on the last day of the Bengali month Poush and continues for three days. The fair opens on a day called ‘Makar Sankraanti’ or ‘Poush Sankraanti.’ The place where this mega fair takes place is called Joideb, Kendrobilbwo near Santiniketan, named after the great poet, Joideb. He is known for his verses on Sri Krishna, known as ‘Geeta Govindam.’ Lord Krishna himself is said to have completed the verse that Jaideb left unfinished, while he went to take a dip in the Ajay river before his midday meal. The verse goes as, “Smara garala khandanam, mama shirasi mandalam/ Dehi pada pallava mudaraam”, in Sanskrit. Religious minded people take a holy dip in the Ajay river to commemorate the poet and his creation.
For the Bauls, the mystic minstrels, Fakirs, Sadhus, Vaishnavs, Kirtoniyas, this is a perfect place for reunion, re-bonding and amalgamation. The otherwise quite village of Joideb, decks up in a carnival mood overnight. The three day long fair starts with the morning prayer songs called ‘Prabhaati’ in different akharas and ashrams. Popular among them are the Moner manush akhara of Sadhan Bairagi from Haat Gobindapur, Barddhaman, Sudhir Babar ashram in Tamal Tola of Lakkhan Das Baul, Bhoba Paglar ashram, Sudhir Khyapar ashram of Gautam Das Baul, Rina Das Baul, Shyam Sokha ashram and many others. The Kirtan akharas have outnumbered Baul akharas with time.
Intervention of funds from different sources has led to the mushrooming of various akharas. Use of loud speakers in most of the akharas makes it a very noisy affair altogether. The Moner Manush and Shyam Sokha however, try and keep their akharas noise free. Both maintain a suave and serene atmosphere away from the madding crowds. Colourful tents are seen here and there in the periphery of the akharas and on the banks of the Ajay river.
As one walks past the akharas, stalls and alleys, an aroma of gram flower fries, boiled tea, fried eggs and sweets hang heavy in the air. Inviting and intoxicating smell of Canabis also fills the air swaying many to a trans state. Sadhus and Bhaktas sitting around, passing on the chillam to each other is a treat to the curious visitors and photographers. The food and tea stalls are innumerable catering to the visitors 24x7 as the akharas are in full swing singing and dancing till the break of dawn.
For the amateur and upcoming singers and music band members, Joideb mela is a place for learning, jamming and networking. For the budding journos and documentary film makers this is a set up for the most popular subject to shoot on, ‘Baulism’. For the Baul, Fakiri and Kirtan lovers this is a perfect place for a treat of the verses on the deepest thoughts of composers, singers and philosophers. For the professional singers this is a right place for networking with the promoters and sponsors.
This year Moner Manush and Tomaltola ashram and other akharas were visited by veteran Baul singers, like Paban Das Baul, Halim Fakir, Anath Bandhu Ghosh, Kanai Das Baul and others. Narayan Das Baul, a well-known Baul, known for his melodious dotara playing, was missed. He died a few days prior to the fair.