The dusty hinterland of Bengal will come alive with sonorous Baul songs in a bustling industrial city.
Sabuj Shahar Mela, a two-day offering of folk cultures of Bengal and Jharkhand, will kick off at Jamshedpur’s Sabuj Kalyan Sangha grounds on January 25.
In its 19th edition now, the fair will be held at the Telco address like it was last year. Earlier, it used to be held at Aambagan grounds, Sakchi.
This year, hosts feel the biggest draw will be Kartik Das Baul. This celebrity folk singer and his seven-member troupe, will enthral the audience with mystic numbers. The fair will also be a platform where Bauls will meet a band, the Calcutta-based GeNext group called Prachir.
“We want to promote folk culture of both Bengal and Jharkhand, give the present generation brought up on a diet of Bollywood and television the chance to experience the offbeat. We want youngsters to know their roots,” said Achintam Gupta, president of Shahar Mela Committee, which is teaming up Sabuj Kalyan Sangha for the fest.
Kartik Das Baul has performed at the India Festival in Washington DC way back in 1985. He has sung in Atlantic City for Banga Sammelan and in Hiroshima for the Wall Festival. He is also a regular face of the Bengali fusion band Oikyotan with ex-Krosswindz singer, Bonnie.
Baul is a folk music genre that encompasses Vaishnavite and Sufi elements. The genre had a profound influence on Rabindranath Tagore. Besides Baul, the fair will have Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrulgeeti, modern Bengali songs, Purulia Chhau and dance dramas.
And after gorging on culture, there’s also the chance to tuck into some delicious Bengali cuisine. From machher jhol (fish curry) to begun bhaja (deep-fried aubergines) to Makar Sankranti fare such as traditional peethe and puli (kind of dumplings stuffed with grated coconut or thickened milk) and payesh (a traditional rice-and-milk dessert), the fair will offer foodies plenty of choice. In keeping with the taste of the times, it will also have Chinese and fried snacks.
“But the musical treat is the main draw,” said Gupta.
Last year, the fair had witnessed a footfall of 1,500 per day. People had also flocked to food counters for the homely steamed rice, lentils, machher jhol and sweets.