Fakir Lalon Shah’s death anniv today

October 16, 2021

Today is the 131st anniversary of death of legendary mystic bard Fakir Lalon Shah, who had secured a unique position in the history of traditional music for his humanitarian songs, blending philosophies of different devotional traditions such as Sahajia Buddhism, Sahajia Vaishnavism, Sufism and others.
Lalon died on the first day of the Bangla month of Kartik in 1297, which was October 17, 1890 according to the Gregorian calendar, but his death anniversary is observed following the Bangla calendar.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy will arrange a programme marking the occasion. However, Kushtia Lalon Academy suspended Lalon Festival due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Lalon’s songs, considered by his followers as doctrines that should be adhered to, raise some universal questions through simple diction. The songs have attracted widespread attention for their mystical approach to humanism as well as their melodious tunes.
Since Lalon was found stranded on the bank of the River Kaliganga, affected by smallpox, nobody knew anything about his past, and Lalon did not disclose anything about his date of birth, identity of his parents or his religious background.
But some historians claim that Lalon was born in 1774.
He was adopted by the weaver-couple, Malam Shah and his wife Matijan, at Chheuriya.
They gave Lalon land to live on and the bard started composing and performing his songs being inspired by Siraj Sain, a sufi saint of the village.
Subsequently, Lalon learned about nature, human body and traditional philosophies from different gurus and expressed those in his songs, which, however, are rich in metaphors and double meanings.
In many of his verses on dehatatwa, Lalon has implicitly given his followers guidelines on how to go beyond the physical existence to the metaphysical world.
Lalon left no written copies of his songs, which were transmitted orally and only later transcribed by his followers.
As most of his followers could not read or write, a few of his songs were found in written form.
Rabindranath Tagore published some of the songs in the monthly Prabasi magazine in Kolkata.
According to experts, Lalon composed less than 2,000 songs. However, many rural bauls claim that the number would be over 10,000.

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