Project 365: Day 341 – Swaying to a Baul in Bucharest

7th June 2015 – Bucharest, Romania

Passed down in a history of oral traditions, with not a written word.

In the company of only the Ektara strum and the Duggi beat.

The Baul had me in a trance, although not a word was registered.

Sometimes music transcends meanings. Not an easy feat.

Parvathy Baul in Bucharest, Romania

Another great Indian artist that everybody needs to be aware of. – Parvathy Baul in Bucharest, Romania

For the third time in a row, I was back in Herestrau park. But little did I know that today would be my favourite one.

2 days ago, I was here to check out the public parks and the lake. And yesterday, I came to see the Namaste India fair. Well, I came back today for the same festival, but specifically for one act. Parvathy Baul.
I am from Kerala, and one of the artists that every Keralite should know – if they don’t know her already – is Parvathy Baul. Born in West Bengal, she now lives in Trivandrum and has been expanding the Baul music to global shores. I have only seen her sing on youtube, and was never lucky to be in the same city as her, to catch a live performance. And even in my wildest dreams, I would have never expected that such an opportunity would come knocking thousands of kilometres away, in the city of Bucharest, Romania.
The Bauls are mystical musicians from the state of Bengal, who follow an eclectic religious order which is a mix of different religions, and back it up with a unique musical tradition. So, you may meet a Baul who is a Hindu or a muslim. But what matters is not their religious origin, only their music. Considered by many to be equivalent in soul-stirring sounds to the Mevlana musical order of Turkey, the Bauls were even an inspiration to Rabindranath Tagore and his poetry. And their life is so simple that, despite being an international performer, Parvathy Baul still visits rural villages in Kerala, and performs the Baul music, to preserve the rustic originality of the music.
Accompanied only by the Ektara (a one-stringed instrument) and the Duggi (a small drum), she had the whole audience mesmerised here in Bucharest too, all of them moving to the sound which the Ghungur (anklets) on her feet made when she danced along with the words she sang.
And the words themselves? I did not understand even one Bengali word, but they were the most soulful, divine sounds that I have heard on this side of the ocean.
Click here for the previous day’s post. Or you can follow this project from Day 0, by clicking here

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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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