[Assam] baresohoriya bhaona II

xourov pathok xourov at yahoo.com
Thu May 24 09:08:56 PDT 2007

Yes, the website has some good info.  I found this article particularly informative.


The website seems to be designed by a web-design company called WebX.  The link is in the bottom of the website.  

The youtube.com videos were uploaded by someone called SANDIPON, which are also linked from the website.  You may be able to reach him via his youtube account.

Since the site may go away at some point, I have taken the liberty to cut and paste the article below.

----- Original Message ----

From: Dilip/Dil Deka <dilipdeka at yahoo.com>

To: xourov pathok <xourov at yahoo.com>; assam at assamnet.org

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 11:37:33 AM

Subject: Re: [Assam] baresohoriya bhaona II

Thank you, Xourov, for leading us to the Baresohoriya Bhaona site. I always wondered what 

Baresohoriya Bhaona was about. Now I know a little more.

  The website is well planned and well presented. Do you know who built the website?




 Barechaharia Bhowna – a cultural asset

 Pabitra Kr. Nath

  Jamugurihat  has immensely been contributing to the wide-ranging spectrum of vast Assamese  culture with its glorious institution of Barechaharia Bhowna. Barechaharia  Bhowna Mahotsava is an institution of Shankari culture which has a chequered  history of more than two centuries. Barechaharia Bhowna has already gone beyond  the extent of the state and has been reckoned with natioinal importance. It is  the largest socio-cultural extravaganza of the north east India. 

Barechaharia Bhowna, in brief, can be said to be the simultaneous performance of  Bhownas by different village-troupes at a particular place. Bhownas are  generally performed on or 3 nights. The style of presentation of quite a number  of Bhownas under the same mandap (top-cover) is really unique. The exuberance of  the people to participate in it and purity of form are two other striking  features of this Mahotsava.

The fifteenth century saw the emergence of neo-Vaishnavism, inculcated by  Shankardeva. The artist, poet, social reformer of transcendental genius had a  wide social outlook based on principle of human equality. He had initiated a  socio-cultural and religious movement bringing about drastic changes in all  walks of life of the contemporary society, the influence of which is still being  felt. His establishment of Namghars (hall for congregational prayer) and Satras  as social-cultural and religious centres is a rare instance in the world. 

He wrote Ankia Nats to be staged in Satras and Namghars and accordingly  performances of the same flourished in the Satras and Namghars. In is a period  of efflorescence in drama, dance, music, literature. His approach was all  encompassing and his contribution in building a unified social order is  stupendous. Srimanta Shankardeva aimed to spread the message of neo-Vaisnavism  to the masses and he used the occasions such as Bhownas with a view to gathering  people together. What we call today Assamese culture actually stands on the  foundation of Vaishnavite culture of which Akia Bhowna is a colossus.

Shankardeva was inspired by the India classical tradition of drama associated  with religion. He had a thorough understanding of Sanskrit dramaturgy as  envisaged in the Natyasastra. A poet, an artist, actor, director, singer and a  producer Shankardev had proficiency in Sankskrit rehetoric and prosody. He gave  Assamese culture a new aesthetic taste along with moral and spiritual values.  During his extensive pilgrimage he is expected to study some of the theatre  forms prevailing in some of the regions he had come across. Shankardeva took up  Bhowna as a medium of attaining great virtue and an institution of popular  entertainment. The elements of folk culture are so fused with it making their  synthesis a difficult task.

In an apparent view Barechaharia Bhowna is said to be a production of Vaisnavite  culture. But, a minute observation enables us to identify many elements of  agrarian culture dissolved in it. This post-harvest festival is actually a blend  of Shankari and agrarian culture. Let us trace it back and throw light on the  path of its evolution for clear understanding. However, we refrain from detailed  discussion in this write-up to paucity of space.

In 1769 AD Mowamoriya revolt broke out and in the early part of 19th century the  Burmese invasion took place. In such political and social upheavals myriads of  persons had to shift their place to north bank of the Brahmaputra from Nagaon  and upper Assam districts. In search of a safe and fertile land a portion of  them arrived and settled in present day Barbhogia, Chilabandha and Murhadol  Mouza of Jamugurihat. The area was being inhabitated by people belonging to  various communities, such as Koch, Rabha, Kachari, Mising and Kaibarta. The new  group of people settled down at different villages. Cultivation was the main  source of income of the populace.

It is worthwhile to mention here that density of population in the bank of  Jia-Bhoroli, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, ie western part of Jamugurihat was  comparatively more during that period. Fertility of land and importance of  waterways were in all probability the reasons. (The trend has been reversed due  to crosion of Jia-Bhoroli, growing importance of road transport etc). There was  peaceful coexistence among the people belonging various castes and communities  and thereby socio-cultural activities were initiated. The village life nestled  in such scenic spells of nature was an ideal one for any socio-cultural  initiative. The population was divided into many tribes and groups with diverse  ritualistic and cultural discipline difference from each other. But they rose to  the necessity of living together with certain common interest. The people  hailing from south bank were under influence of Satra and naturally had interest  in Sankari culture. As a result, a
 process of assimilation of culture between  new group of people coming from south and that of early dwellers began.  Barechaharia Bhowna owes its birth to the prolonged and collective thoughts and  efforts of devout farmers who were trying to make the quest to find new way of  cultural life.

Barechaharia Bhowna Mahotsava has come down a long way to reach the present  state. Its antiquity is not conclusively known. Available evidences suffice to  establish that it began to be celebrate since 1797 in systematic manner. In the  initial stages its celebration was naturally not of high magnitude.

Traditionally, Barechaharia Bhowna Mahotsava is held at an interval of 5-7  years. From 20 to 30 village-troups or ‘khels’ organize this gala festival. A  ‘khel’ may be said to be an aggregate of people confined to one village. On  ‘khala’ (stage) is assigned to one ‘khel’. Every ‘khel’ has a Namghar and all  the Namghars are joined one by one to make a circle. There is holy throne at the  centre and the Bhagavat is placed on it. The ‘mandap’ is constructed in the  shape of a lotus and the number of petals of the lotus is equal to that ‘Khalar’.  One ‘nat’ is staged in one ‘khala’. The lotus shape of the pandal may be  constructed as to symbolize the devotion to lotus feet of lord Krishna. Though  its rituals pertain to religious taith the festival has equal significance as a  socio– cultural instiution. This louts– shaped pandal has fascinating beauty and  exhibits the speendor of our folk architecture. The pandal is constructed with  thatch. Village youths go out in
 groups and collect thatch and bamboos requried  for construction of respective ‘Khala’ (stage).

The music along with rhythmic feats on ‘Khols’ (drums) and ;tals’ (cymbals) is  echoed in the air giving sancity to the area during celebration of the festival.  The lyricism of its music and narration in Brajawali is worth–listening. The  audience is enchanted by the poetic flow of the stiries extracted from the  epics. There is strong ground to believe that Barechaharia once used to be  observed annually. In course of time, celebration of this Mahotsava was made  quadrennial. Huge expenses involved and some other socio– economic reasons may  be held responsible for the same.

Ankia Bhowna written and devised by Shankardeva and Madhavedeva is a dramatic  representation. Ankia Bhowna also referred to as a ‘rtitual play’ is a  combination of dance, music and drama.Shankardev made beautiful use of ‘Khol’  and ‘tal’ in Bhowna performances.The play begins with removal of curtain and the  drummers and cymbalists start concert. The dances also called ‘dhemalis’ follow.  After brilliant display of ‘purvaranga’ or ‘dhemalis’ the ‘Sutradhar’ enters the  stage and here begins the actual performance. Introduction of ‘Sutradhar in  Ankia Nat by Shankardeva is unique. A lagrge variety of dance numbers sprinkle  over the dramatic perfomance. Ankia– Bhowna there by contrbutes to healthy  growth of the exquisite dance from know as Satriya dance. However, apart from  the dances related with the performance of Ankia Bhowna, Madhavadeva and later  apostles added a few numbers to the repertoire of the Satriya dances.

Dances performed in the Ankia Nats and other dramatic representations are :

* the dance movements during the preliminaries called dhemalis,

* the dance of Sutradhar,

                                * the dance of Krishna popularly called Gosain Nach,

* the dance of the cowherdesses (Gopis) known as Gopi Nach,

* the dance of Krishna and Gopis during Ras–lila,

* dancing rhythms for all other characters of the Nat to enter and exit, 

* Jhumura, Behar Nach and Nadu Bhangi (in Kamalabari Satra)

Satriya dance as practised in Satras includes the dances cited over and Chali  nach and Ojapali. Striya dance has, in the recent times, drawn attention of the  people of the country and abroad.

Necessary arrangements including construction of pandal, volunteering, costumes,  cosmetics, masks, effigies and other accessories are made by villagers. Village  youths are entrusted with different works. The mask craft of Assam is of ancient  practice. The Mangoloid people originated and developed this form of craft. This  craft, today has developed with performances of Bhowna. Masks of different  characters for Bhowna are made in different sizes depending upon their needs.  Fabrication of bamboo strips for making mask are used and hengul and haital  (herbal colour) are used in decorating the mask. Simhasana (pedasral) where the  holly book is kept and enshrined is traditionally made of wood. The sculpture,  ural, gosa etc are some of the wooden works found in Bhowna. In making of craft  kuhila, bamboo and cane are commonly used. Making of mukut (headgear) for Bhowna  is also an example of Mangoloid culture. So Barechaharia Bhowna has been  promoting indigenous craft,
 sculpture and arehitecture.

Needless to say that Jamugurihat is a fertile ground for both folk and Shankari  culture. One Namghar in each village is a special feature of Jamugurihat. Ankia  Nats are performed in the Namghars. The boundless enthusiasm of the respective  villagers in observance of Bhowna adds to the gaiety of the occasion. People  from adjacent villages too pour in to enjoy the show. The spectators feel a  sense of solace. Very speciality of Jamugurihat is that majority of the society  have the skill in palying khol, tal in acting the role of Bhowna characters.  Some are exponent in dance of Sutradhar. Young boys undergo training of various  forms of Vaishnavite culture. Shankari culture is practised in the Namghars of  Jamugurihat and thus Jamugurians are making sincere and relentless efforts so as  to promote the culture.

Many ethnic groups and tribes have made the mosaic of Aassamese culture.  Assamese culture is composite one. The very infrastructure of the composite  Assamese culture is totally indebted to Shankardeva’s utopian synthesis of  socio-cultural philosophy. Barechaharia Bhowna always attempts to capture and  convey the essence of it. It is encouraging exchange of ideas of performing arts  between different ethnic groups of the north east region.

Culture is born of a society and also grows with it. Unity and integratioin  among different races., castes, communities directly help in formation and  develolpment of culture. The population of Assam can broadly be divided into  three branches : the Austroloids and Mangoloids and Aryans. Majority of the  tribes of Assam are Mangoloid origin. But some have certain Australoid ethnic  traits. They came to Assam in different times. Australoid culture is basically  an agrarian one. Mangoloids in Assam were expert weavers. Some of them had got  admixtured with non-Mongoloid populations to varying degree. The tremendous  sense of belongingness and surge of group-spirit–two features that we experience  during Barechaharia Mahotsava are attributed to the Mangoloids. The Austral;oids  and Mongolids had laid the foundation of a culture, which in later period was  enrichened by the Aryans. 

Assam is the homeland of several races, communities  and tribes. They migrated to Assam in long past from different places. They had  their own culture and language. Admixture of different racial elements works a  great deal in socio-cultural integration of the society. It contributes  enormously towards establishing a spirit of harmony, cooperation and cohesion  among the diverse ethnic groups of Assam. The process of assimilation and  admixture is still going on. Assamsese culture does not belong to some race or  tribe and is therefore, rightly called a composite culture and the very feature  is reflected in Barechaharia Mahotsava too.

Barechaharia Bhowna is a grand expostion of Shankari culture. This contribution  of Jamugurians of Assamese culture weighs its worth in gold. Barechaharia is  vivid portrait of Bhowna culture nurtured against the backdrop of serene village  life. In 1969 the Mahotsava assumed a new dimension and received nation-wide  publicity. The erstwhile Secretary of NSD and other distinguished personalities  with scholarly persuit of national and international repute came over here and  watched Bhowna performances. The highly appreciated its cultural values in the  leading national dailies.

Social scientist Linton said, ‘Culture of a society is the way of life of its  members, the collection of ideas and habits which they earn, share and transmit  from generation to generation’. A culture however rich it may be fades in the  long run unless practised an promoted by the members of the society. It is an  imperative necessity for a culture to grow with society. It should be passed on  to next generation with higher value. Vaisnavite culture is the pearl of  Assamese culture of which Bhowna culture is in the key position. Barechaharia is  an ideal platform for excellance of Vaisnavite culture. It has been promoting  the elements, such as music, dance, literature and art of Bhowna culture.  Barechaharia is an institution with abundant materials for study of Assamese  culture. It deserves a place in the global cultural map. Apart from being rich  in idigenous art, craft, culture etc this glorious tradition is giving momentum  to cultural movement of the state.

Barechaharia Bhowna over the years has been preserving and promoting the Bhowna  culture. At a time when cost of various commodities is increasing by leaps and  bounds celebration of this festival has become and expensive arrangement. It is  incumbent upon the government and all other sundry concerned to patronize this  festival and to chalk out scheme for presenting this rich cultural heritage to  the unacquainted eyes of the people of Indian subcontinent and abroad as well.  At the same time one cannot deny of the neccessity of improvement of certain  areas of Bhowna performances. Moreover, performance of Bhownas by all villages  of greater Jamugurihat under the umbrella of Barechaharia needs to ensured.

Barechaharia Bhowna is a campaign for spreading cultural among the masses. It is  an attempt to exchange cultural ideas and their promotion. Barechaharia Bhowna  promotes social and cultural unity among the people of different races,  religions, communities and linguistics. This festiveal broadens our social and  cultral horizon and is therefore heartily accepted by all. To gain warm response  from the oeople of all walks of life is not an ordinary matter. This happens in  Barechaharia as because it is a people – based instiution. The tea tribal and  Nepali–speaking Assamese are also performing Bhownas with equal skill. Thus the  work of expanison of assamese culture is accomplished. It offer us a precious  opportunity for social and cultural unity. Many of the problems arisen out of  present– day situation may be remedied culturally.

It cannot be denied that majority of new generatrion, specially in urban areas  have a tendency to shrug our own culture off in the recent years. Elements of  cheap western culture have made inroads to our society. New generation is seen  to be obsessed with popular and modern western cultural. If this culture  onslaught continues danger of our society and culture is imminent. In this  situation it is important to harness the potential of Barechaharia. Promotion of  Bhowna culture is must for our cultural identity and it has assumed more every  significance with every passing day.Moderntiy does not speak for discarding our  own culture. Ours is a rich culture and culture is the identity with which the  members of the society are known. New generation should imbibe the cultural and  social values of Barechaharia Bhowna.


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