BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
KOLKATA, 1 JANUARY 2023
After a hiatus of almost two years the Joydeb Kenduli Mela also popularly known as Baul Mela will be held from 14 January to 17 January this year in Birbhum district.
A high level meeting was organised in which MSME minister Chandranath Sinha, DM of Birbhum, Bidhan Roy and ASP of Bolpur, Surajit Kumar Dey and others were present.
It has been decided that the holy bathing will continue this year for the pilgrims and security have been further beefed up.
Due to the outbreak of the covid -19 pandemic in the past two years, this popular Joydeb Kenduli mela could not be organised.
The covid situation is normal in the state and the district administration has allowed the organisers to hold the Joydeb Kenduli Mela like in previous years.
The Joydeb Mela is a fair of Bauls or singing minstrels, held in Kenduli, birth place of the famous poet Joydeb, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Kenduli is situated in the Birbhum district, about 42 kilometres away from Santiniketan, Tagore’s abode of peace.
“The unique musical tradition of Bauls has been included in the list of ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO and we are very happy that this year the Baul Mela is back in Joydeb Kenduli ,” said state tourism and IT minister Babul Supriyo.
From Kolkata it takes about 4 hours to reach Joydeb Kenduli. The Gangasagar Mela also srats at the same time on the day of Makar Sankranti.
The famous Navaratna Radhabinod temple is the main attraction in Joydeb Kenduli. This temple was built in the 17th century. Now the temple is under the “Archaeological Survey of India. It is also the birthplace of peot Joydeb or Jayadeva.
Jaydev Kenduli has long been considered as a possible birthplace of the poet Jayadeva, who had composed Gita Govinda in Sanskrit. The epic poem Gita Govinda which concentrates on Krishna‘s love with the gopi, Radha, in a rite of spring. This poem, which presents the view that Radha is greater than Krishna, is considered an important text in the Bhakti movement of Hinduism..[
He was believed to be the court poet of Raja Lakshman Sen, who ruled in the 12th to 13th century. The image of Radhamadhav set up by him is daily worshipped. The asana (mat) on which the poet sat and obtained siddhi (salvation) through meditation is carefully preserved.
The fair is organized in memory of 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 Ajay river at 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 for the fair and as such it 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 Jayadeva songs.
However, in recent years, the greatest baul fair in the state is gradually losing its character, as the bauls have been outnumbered by kirtanias, who perform in the mela to gain popularity.
It is not known whether Nobel Lauretae Rabindranath Tagore ever visited Jaydev Kenduli. However, many personalities linked with Santiniketan such as Kshiti Mohan Sen, Nandalal Bose, Provat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Ramkinkar Baij, and Santideb Ghosh visited Jaydev Kenduli and contributed substantially towards the spread of its name outside Birbhum and added to its fame.
The fair, which is believed by some to have been there for around centuries, caters primarily to the requirements of village folk. Everything from cooking utensils to fishing nets are sold in the fair. Several hundreds of stalls are set up.