|Babita malkani with models and Baul Singers.|
Designer Babita Malkani has always been inspired by various cultures, different cities and their traditions. This time, travel took her to the state of Bengal where the distinctive style of dressing and unique set of musical instruments of the Baul singers, caught her attention. The Baul religion of these artists plays muse in her new collection, aptly titled “Iktar”.
Baul music is a folk music style that originated in West Bengal and Bangladesh in the 19th century, but their music is over 1,000 years old. Known as wandering minstrels, as they are nomadic in nature, their lyrics and music are typical of the soul-searching genre.
These mystical minstrels are known to have created a neo-religion, which is rootless in conventional religions and not confined to any borders; they celebrate music as a religion. The Baul religion is an amalgamation of many different cultures: Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism and the study of yoga. It believes in celestial love and their devotional music transcends religion.
Elements of this exceptionally liberal folk music cult and its style flows in Malkani’s drapes, with a similar mysticism and free-flowing charisma distinctive to the Baul style. The collection infused by a syncretism of traditional and modern, characteristic to the religion. Malkani has unified Indian art with the Boho-glam look in self-developed fabrics like cotton silks, Habutai silks and specialised hand-textured fabrics, to present the kind of draped look the Baul singers are known to don.
Her collection feature three different looks that span a variety of moods from serene to glamourous, and will overall present a chic look with a touch of Indian style, maintaining a global, cutting-edge feel.
Using techniques like block printing, spray and hand printing, dyeing techniques, surface ornamentation and light embellishments, the prints on these fabrics will see motifs related to the Baul religion: Bengali scriptures, abstract interpretations of Baul instruments like the ektara and the Baul singers themselves represented in graphic forms.
The show began with a fusion performance of Bengali folk music, Sanskrit shlokas and the chimes of the church bells, to signify the oneness of the Baul religion. In completeness Babita’s collection just like her holds no religious borders and celebrates music as religion.
Photo credit: Limelight PR