Slideshow | “The Melodies of the Banam: One of the ancient musical instruments of the Santals” (Museum Day 2018) – West Bengal

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Museum Day Celebration 2018 at Bishnubati

The 5th Museum Day was celebrated on 9th December 2018 at Bishnubati. To create awareness and educate the people about the importance of their cultural heritage the Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust (GBAT) and the Museum of Santal Culture (MSC), Bishnubati, has been organizing a Museum Day since 2014. This year, the theme of the programme has been The Melodies of the BANAM. This is a one-string wooden music instrument, akin to the lute or fiddle. The art of banam-making and playing is gradually lost from the collective memory of the Santals. Therefore the GBAT and MSC, in collaboration with the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, had organized a banam-making workshop in August 2018. Sixteen banam-makers from the Districts of Birbhum, Hooghly and Purulia participated and produced beautifully artistic banams. The completed banams were unveiled during the Museum Day celebration and played before the audience for the first time by the banam-makers.

Besides presenting the banams, the elders of Bishnubati and Ghosaldanga village presented some traditional Santals songs that are rarely sung nowadays. A Karam group headed by Karam guru Rabon Baski, who presents the Santal mythology through recitation, songs and dances also presented various songs related to the rituals of birth, marriage and death. Students of the RSV school and the junior leaders also presented a Dasai dance and a Santali play respectively.

The chief guest of the celebration was Dr. Ratan Hembram, Head, Dept. of Santali & Member, Centre for Adivasi Studies and Museum, Vidyasagar University, Midnapur.

The special guests of the programme were Prof. Ranjana Roy, formerly Dept. of Anthropology, Calcutta University; Dr. Doneshwar Manjhi, Head, Dept. of Santali, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan; Mr. Som Murmu, traditional banam-maker and -player, Bekajol, Birbhum; Prof. Debasis K. Mondal, Dept. of Anthropology, Calcutta University; Prof. Kumkum Bhattacharya and Prof. Ranjit Bhattacharya, Santiniketan; Mr. Samiran Nandy, Santiniketan; Dr. Santosh Kr. Soren, Kolkata; Mr. Sunder Manoj Hembrom, Bandel; Prof. Sudipto Mukherjee, Baharampur; Mr. Rahul Bose, Khanjanpur, and the villagers and students of Ghosaldanga and Bishnubati. The programme started in the afternoon and ended at midnight with common dance and music by the villagers.

Photos and report courtesy Dr. Boro BaskiSunder Manoj Hembrom (by email 17 December 2018)

Date and venue

9th December 2018 at 2:30 pm, at Museum of Santal Culture, Bishnubati, Birbhum


Ramjit Mardi-8670244810; Bimol Baski- 8116142104; Bhabini Baski-9932250251 and Boro Baski- 9002188716

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Since its inception in 2007, the ‘Museum of Santal Culture’ mainly served as a community centre. With assistance of the Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation (Amsterdam) it was able to organize workshops for flute making, drum playing, photography from 2011 onward; and also publish children’s books, audio and video albums on the life of the villages – captured by local children – before producing the present catalogue.

The development of the Museum of Santal Culture was taken to the next level at Oslo, during the Bodding Symposium 2015, by tying up with the prestigious ‘Museum of Cultural History’ (Norway). This bond was further strengthened by Prof. Øivind Fuglerud and Dr. Anne Habu Karin during their visit the Museum of Santal Culture in September-October 2017.

As a  follow-up, Dr. Tone Bleie (Professor Public Planning and Cultural Understanding at the Arctic University Tromsø, Norway and co-organizer of the 2015 Symposium), visited together with Prof. Øivind Fuglerud. This provided our visitors with a welcome opportunity to jointly celebrate the International Museum Day at Bishnubation 9th December together with members of local communities.

Source: photos and information courtesy Dr. Boro Baski (by email)

Dr. Boro Baski works for the community-based organisation Ghosaldanga Adibasi Seva Sangha in West Bengal. The NGO is supported by the German NGO Freundeskreis Ghosaldanga und Bishnubati. He was the first person from his village to go to college as well as the first to earn a PhD (in social work) at Viswa-Bharati. This university was founded by Rabindranath Tagore to foster integrated rural development with respect for cultural diversity. The cooperation he inspired helps local communities to improve agriculture, economical and environmental conditions locally, besides facilitating education and health care based on modern science.

He authored Santali translations of two major works by Rabindranath Tagore, the essay “Vidyasagar-Charit” and the drama Raktakarabi (English “Red Oleanders”), jointly published by the Asiatic Society & Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) in 2020.

Other posts contributed by Dr. Boro Baski >>

Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
Registration under Trust Registration Act 1982
P.O. Sattore, Dist. Birbhum
West Bengal-731 236

For inquiries on Santal cultural and educational programs, please contact:
Mob. 094323 57160 or