History and Origin:
"Baul" song is one of the major kind of "Folk" song. The origin of the word Baul is debated. The word "Baul" has its etymological origin in the Sanskrit word "vatula" ( "mad" from vayu-air or wind) is used for someone who is crazy. On the other hand some modern scholar give different
opinion that it may be derived from the Sanskrit word "vatula" but it means enligntend by the wind to point of losing ones sanity detached from the world and seeker of truth. the origin of Bauls is not specified yet.Though Bengali word Baul has seen text in 15th century. the Bauls were recorded as a major sect as early as mid 18th century. Regarding this origin of sect one recent research suggest that Bauls are descendants of a branch of Sufism called ba'al.
Life of Bauls:
There are two classes of Bauls- asentic who reject family life and another is live with family. Bauls who reject their family and do not have fixed dwelling, they move from place to place, one akhda to another akhda.
In addition Bauls who live with family, children and other relatives, live in a secludded part of the village and they do not mix freely with the member of community.
The music of Baul is called "Bauls Sangeet" is one kind of folk song. It is generally performed by hermits who are the followers of Sufism.Though Baul songs are incorporated with simple word, it carries deeper meanings. But it is a matter of regret that these songs are losing popularity day by day because of urbanization and westernization.
Baul songs are performed with very little musical support where vocal is the main carriers. The number of instruments is limited and very simple, the instruments which are used in Baul Sangeet are given below:
1. Ektara ( One stringed "plucked drum" drone instrument )
2. Dotara ( A long naked fretless tute )
3. Khamak ( One-headed drum )
4. Duggi ( a small hand held earthen drum )
5. Dhol, Khol and Goba ( Similar as duggi )
6. Kartal and manjira ( A small cymbals )
7. Bamboo flutes etc.
Nowadays some other thin instruments are used in baul sangeet to create spacial effect but described instruments are the main feature.
In Bangladesh the district of Chittagong, Sylhet, Maymensing, and Tangail are famous for Bauls. In addition Kushtia Lalon akhda ( Lalon- the greatest of all Bauls ) is another famous place in Bangladesh. Two most important fair, Kenduli Mela and Pous Mela, held in West Bengal for Baul music. Bauls come from far off places to participate in these fair. For the last few years another unique Baul show has been organized in Calcutta called "Baul Fakir Utshab". From where we can get 48 hours baul music experience and a chance to meet the greatest baul Singers ever.