UNESCO has started to implement the Project entitled the Safeguarding of Baul Songs (Bangladesh). This cultural expression was proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.
This Project is financed under the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage .
Context and Objectives of the project:
The Bauls are minstrels living in rural areas of Bangladesh , some of them are settled while others travel from place to place. Baul is an unorthodox mystic movement, distinct from the other religions of Bangladesh although influenced by them. The Bauls' specificity lies in their way to think up humankind's relation to God. There is no caste system, no specific deity or sacred place, no organized religion for them, and they consider that God resides in the human body. They are admired for their freedom as well as their beautiful poetry, music, song and dance which aim at spiritual liberation.
Today, the Baul movement has regained popularity, but the Baul songs preservation is endangered by the critical impoverishment of rural Bangladesh . The Bauls have no financial resources and they have to divide their time between practicing Baul songs and earn a living in agriculture or farming, some had to sold their properties. As a consequence, some Bauls now use modern instruments and change the original features of the songs rather than following the original Baul style, hoping to attract audience and earn money. This threatens the original Baul tradition, all the more that this knowledge is transmitted orally.
The objectives of this project due to end in October 2010 are to ensure that new generations of Bauls are properly trained in accurate performance of Baul songs and to raise awareness on the value of this tradition.
The Project's activities include:
- Capacity-building: (workshop for transmission of skills, seminars)
-Research and publications (field survey in various districts, preparation and publication of a book in two languages and a CD with 50 songs)
- Promotional activities during the Baul festival (Holding of a festival of Baul songs gathering practitioners from different regions of Bangladesh and West Bengal ( India )).
This project will contribute to move the revitalization of this cultural expression forward and encourage exchanges between Baul communities.
Copyright : 2013 Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO