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Bauls of Bengal – an integral part of Bengal – would be showcased by the state government at the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi this time.

This comes after Bengal missed the opportunity for displaying its tableau last year following Centre’s rejection of the state government’s proposed tableau theme on chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet Kanyashree.

The rejection was made on the plea that Kanyashree was only a scheme of Bengal and not something to depict the state&’s culture and variety, which is the essence of the tableaus. This apart, Centre had also argued over the uniqueness of the scheme since it had a similar “Beti Bachao Beti Padao" scheme.

Cautious this time, the state government has decided to display Baul culture and through it portray the Lok Prasar Prakalpa – another pet scheme of Miss Banerjee – for empowerment of the folk artists. Launched in 2012, by the state information and cultural affairs department, the scheme has presently enrolled 55,000 folk artists under it and another 5,000 are expected to be included by March.

Under the scheme, state government provides a monthly retainer fee or pension (for artists aged above 60 years) of Rs 1,000 and allowance of Rs 1,000 per performance. State government wants to ensure that each artist gets a chance to get four performances each month.

A team of 34 Bauls led by renowned singer Soumen Biswas of Murshidabad would perform at the tableau. The Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal and constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition.

Designed by Banerjee herself, the tableau would portray rural Bengal with a model of village including Bishnupur temple and terracotta statues. All kinds of folk music and dance are being promoted by the state government so much so that the annual Biswa Bangla Lok Sanskriti Utsav (Folk Culture Festival) has been started from this year onwards.

The programme was recently held on a floating stage at Lal Dighi near Writers’ Building recently. In 2014, Bengal bagged the best tableau award for Chhau dance of Purulia, which is a popular genre of Indian tribal martial dance.

The second and third awards were given to Tamil Nadu and Assam respectively. In 2013, Bengal’s theme was Basanta Utsav of Shantiniketan and in 2012 it was the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

Meanwhile, the Republic Day celebrations at Red Road would witness tableaux of the departments of panchayat and rural development and micro small medium enterprises and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation under commerce and industries.