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Photo-Essay: Bauls and Fakirs at the Joydev Kenduli Mela

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By Md. Intaj Ali

Joydev Kenduli Mela (Fair) attracts a lot of Bauls and Fakirs, who perform their mystic and soulful songs. The fair is held every year on the occasion of Makar  Sankranti and is attended by a large number of tourists from all over the world.

There are a few organized festivals held annually in West Bengal like the Joydev Kenduli Mela that celebrate the poetry and music of the Bauls and Fakirs in such a divine, spiritual, and philosophical manner. It’s an annual three-day festival held in Joydev Kenduli in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Joydev Kenduli is regarded as the birthplace of poet Jayadeva and coincides with Makar Sankranti, which marks the beginning of winter harvest, considered auspicious.

The Bauls and Fakirs of Bengal are a spiritual sect of traveling minstrels whose songs of joy, love, and longing for a mystical union with the divine soul have enchanted the audiences for long.  Originally, the Bauls were nonconformists, who rejected the traditional social norms to form a distinct sect that upheld music as their religion.

The unique philosophy of both the Bauls and Fakirs has a tremendous impact on people, whether they are from the cities or villages. People from all over the world attend the fair and stay awake through the night to listen to their songs. These three days provide enough joy to last for the whole year, until people return again.


Radhabinode Temple carved in terracotta style



Temporary tent at the Moner Manush Akhra


Halim Fakir and Chand Bibi at the time of their performance


 Sadhan Das Bairagi


People gather to take a holy dip in the Ajay River



The manab bedi (human altar)


 Baul songs performed at the Moner Manush Akhra


 Sadhus and their followers



Unique combination of dance and painting

You may listen to some of the songs of the Bauls and Fakirs I uploaded on the Youtube Channel on the occasion of Joydev Kenduli Mela. Follow the links:


Md. Intaj Ali is a research scholar at the Center for Comparative Literature, University of Hyderabad, India. Email:

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2 Responses to “Photo-Essay: Bauls and Fakirs at the Joydev Kenduli Mela”


    Today I met with Bholanath Das Baul at Metro rail and felt glad. Hope, this year’s Poush Sangkranti at Joydeb Mela we will meet.


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