The tradition of `Kirtan’ – symbolizing the Bhakti movement and widely practiced in Bengal, Odissa, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Jharkhand and Vrindavan – constitutes one of the fundamental elements of our country’s pluralist and syncretic culture. Over a period of time the `Kirtan’ has also experienced significant doses of transformation in matters of composition, style and transmission. The spate of globalization has particularly contributed to the divergence and convergence of different forms of this genre of devotional songs. Time has come to undertake a comprehensive study of this facet of Indian cultural tradition. The present project has been conceived in this context. It will have two distinct aspects. At one level there will be a documentation of types of `kirtan’ currently in vogue. This will involve research trips to festivals and places where `kirtan’ is still practiced, collection and collation of archival and library records pertaining to `kirtan’ available in public and private domains, and digitzation of the collected material. At another level the project intends to upload the collected and collated material on a dedicated website to ensure its survival for posterity. The project has considerable relevance. It will create a new repository for the reconstruction of the cultural history of Bengal, nay India. The transmission of the fruits of the research will provide a new entry point that can be effectively utilized for generating a new social appreciation of the musical and performance form of `kirtan’. At a time when the world is afflicted by sectarianism, crash individualism, blind competition and violence of all sorts, the `kirtan’ with its message of love, sympathy, toleration and amity can be effectively used to promote the cause of social harmony. The particular cultural form, represented by `kirtan’, can surely be a source of sustenance for peaceful social co-existence.

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