Baul and Fakiri music is a rich, vibrant and living folk heritage of Bengal of the Sufi genre. The Bauls and Fakirs are the wandering minstrels who sing about love, humanity and devotion. Their philosophy carries influences of Hindu Bhakti Movements and Sufism that emerged in the seventeenth century. The Bauls and the Fakirs have been practising this from time immemorial with their music. Baul songs have a very distinctive place in the cultural sphere of West Bengal as well as Bangladesh. Baul songs have carved out a niche in the world of music and also form an important part of Bengali literature. With Ektara in one hand and often a small drum called Bnaya fastened to a belt around their waist, the Bauls and Fakirs immerse in singing their philosophies and captivate a wide range of rural as well as urban audience. In their practise which is known as Sahajia Sadhana, Bauls look for God nowhere but in the human body. They think one can free oneself from earthly attachments through their belief.
Murshid or Guru is the steersman, who takes the devotee to God. The message of unconditionally following the Murshid is conveyed through Marfati songs. In this project, 1192 Baul and Fakiri artists from 5 districts viz. Bankura, Birbhum, Bardhaman, Murshidabad and Nadia have participated.
Bauls present their music with simple words and heart-touching tunes. A typical Baul team comprises of 1-2 vocalists and instrumentalists like Dotara and Dhol players, one Flutist, one Dubki / Khanjani player. Generally the vocalists use Ektara or Dotara while they sing. When performance is done on stage the vocalists render their songs on mike in a standing position and at times they also dance to the music. Many times vocalists use lapel. The instrumentalists sit at the back in a semi-circular form. When they perform in akhras, infront of a small audience, the vocalists and the instrumentalists sit in a circular form. Generally no microphones are used.
Total 1152 Baul and Fakirs from Nadia, Bardhaman, Birbhum, Murshidabad and Bankura districts are covered under the RCCH initiative.