The three-day Lalon Festival, held to celebrate the 127th death anniversary of Baul legend Fakir Lalon Shah, will end on Thursday amid due fervour and fanfare.
The festival, which is taking place at Lalon's shrine in Chheunria, Kushtia, was inaugurated on Monday night by Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbul ul Alam Hanif. The event saw followers and admirers of Lalon gather and celebrate the spirituality that Lalon preached in his lifetime.
Addressing the ceremony as chief guest, Hanif said the philosophy of love that Lalon preached through his Baul music was not bound by any religious or communal bindings; rather, it transcended all boundaries and promoted humanity.
“We must carry his teachings within ourselves to build a secular Bangladesh, because he held humanity above all else,” Hanif said.
On Tuesday night, the second night of the festival, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal attended the festivities as chief guest.
“Lalon and his works are now a subject of research around the world. He went beyond creed and faith and promoted humanity and harmony. That is the philosophy that we adopted when we opened our doors to the Rohingya, and that is what drives us as we are working to resolve the crisis,” Kamal said when he addressed the attendees at the festival.
The festival is scheduled to end on Thursday night. Lalon's followers have already begun to leave the festivities, but that has yet to put a dent on the celebration.
Rehena, a Lalon devotee, said coming to the festival brought her peace and purged her mind of all worldly perversion.
“I will keep coming back here every year, because here, my soul gets purified,” she said.
Mohammad Ali Shah, the chief khadem of Lalon's shrine, said Bauls came to cleanse themselves at the festival.
“At the time of his death, Lalon told his devotees: 'I do not belong to any religion. My home will be my resting place. Sing my songs.' Since then, his followers have been celebrating this festival to uphold and spread his teachings through his music.
“Forgetting all divisions, thousands of his followers come here from around the country and the world. One does not need an invitation to come here; everyone who loves Lalon and believes in his philosophy is welcome,” he said. “We celebrate his life, and his music.”
Lalon passed away on Kartik 1, 1297 - October 17, 1890 - on Bangla calendar. Since then, Lalon Festival has been taken place on the bank of Kaliganga River, near his shrine, every year. The festivities include cultural programmes and discussion on Lalon's life and work.