Searching for the true meaning of soul and finding purpose of life are the subconscious factors that are the main reasons of travel. Nestled amidst lush foliage, a quaint settlement of few hundred becomes one of the largest congregations of man for 5 days, every January. For the thirsty traveller, lusting for the meaning of life, the sheer spirituality of the place is an humbling experience. Jaydev-Kenduli mela, has been organised for the last 600 years in memory of poet Jaydev and his holy dip in the river Ajay on Makar Sankranti. Bauls, fakirs, kirtaniyas and sadhus, all descend down in hordes to celebrate this pious occasion, where the Krishna took mortal form to finish Jaydev’s “PADA” in Geetagovinda. Thus, this ultra-secular festival becomes a celebration all forms of music and love. After a decade of being a pilgrim every year to Jaydev mela, here is my list of top 5 unmissable things in the mela.
Taking a dip in the holy river of Ajay on Makar Sankranti dawn.
It is a sight to behold as thousands of devotees, travellers or souls in search for peace together march towards the water’s edge and rejoices while taking a dip in Ajay. It is a transcending experience. Even the chilly winter morning doesn’t seem to matter as you feel the water rejuvenate your mind and soul.
Visit the Radhavinod temple
Established in 1683 by the Queen of Bardhhaman, this terracotta wonder of architecture is an awe-inspiring sight. Do visit as it offers a great opportunitry to browse through the marketplace, find rare trinkets and meet wonderful people.
Listening to bauls all night long at “Bhaba Pagla Mancha”
Kenduli mela is the home of thousands of Akhras each with its own share of godly bauls, but Bhaba Pagla is perhaps the most prestigious stage for the legendary bauls. Just close your eyes get lost among the hordes of audience in trance and feel the utter love and spirituality of every word spoken and sung.
Staying at “Moner Manush Ashram”
One of the only permanent settlements in and around the mela, Moner Mansuh Ashram is the home of Sadhan Bairagi, a heavenly man of devotion and knowledge. His ashram welcomes everyone, irrespective caste class or creed. Pitch a tent in the outer courtyard or stay in the Akhra, this quaint ashram with mud and hay huts, is frequented by the most unique and talented individuals, as well as attracting foreigners and VIPs.
Never leave without witnessing dhulat. The bauls believe that everything returns to dust i.e. ‘Dhula’.
Thus the culmination of the mela is a grand procession by all the bauls where they sing, play with abir and greet one another. It is indeed the biggest celebration of love.
Well in this age of digital and capitalism, this small piece of unaltered history is a respite for the tired and unhealthy soul. It is a place where man can drop all pretention and be one with music, with life and with spirituality.