Wandering troubadours from Bengal will add a musical touch to Durga Puja in Patna this year.
Bauls — folk singers based mostly around Santiniketan in Bengal — who wander from place to place, carolling devotional songs to the tune of ektara (a one-stringed musical instrument), are not often heard in Bihar. But this year, Tarun Sangha Durga Puja organisers at Vasant Vihar Colony have invited bauls to perform on Ashtami (the second day of the four-day festival).
“This is the first time that we are organising a cultural function at our puja,” said Abhijeet Biswas, the secretary of the committee. “We have been celebrating the puja in a traditional manner for years. But this time, we thought of making the celebrations a little more colourful.
“What could be better than baul music? It has a distinct style; its lyrics are full of mysticism. Such music is not very common in Patna. For the state capital residents — especially those who belong to the Bengali community — it would be a wonderful experience.”
A Calcutta-based troupe of singers has been invited.
A number of other events would also be organised for the festival. Visitors would be able to witness a conch shell-blowing competition and a dhunuchi naach (a traditional dance with earthen pots filled with burning coir) on Navami (the third day of the festival).
“We shall also organise a drawing competition for children and an open house quiz,” said Biswas.
All participants would get trophies and certificates. “We don’t want to upset anyone as Durga Puja is about fun and celebrations. So, every participant would get a gift or prize,” Biswas said.
Folk music is not the only one on offer this puja. Those who prefer classical can go to Chajjubagh Sarbojanin Durga Puja where Calcutta-based sarod player Pritam Pal and table player Sudip Kumar Chatterjee will perform on Saptami (the first day of the festival on October 21).
Quizzers can try their wits at the pandal on Navami. But they would have to be knowledgeable about the lives and works of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
Sagar Bhattacharjee, one of the members of the Chajjubagh Sarbojnin Puja Committee, said: “The other attractions of our cultural programme would be a dance performance by Sudipa Bose and Group on Ashtami evening. She is a noted Patna-based Bharatnatyam dancer associated with Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir.” Arunima Chatterjee, a Patna-based classical singer, would also perform on the same evening.
A conch shell-blowing competition would also be organised for married women on Navami. “Women in Bengali households play shankha (conch shells). But over the years, we have found men give a tough fight to women. It is one of the main attractions of our programme,” said Bhattacharjee.