Sattra Darshan : An evening to remember

While half of India was cursing at the shameful performances by the Indian cricket team, I alongwith many fellow Delhite Assamese, had a wonderful evening enjoying the ‘Parijat Haran’ bhaona at the Chinmay Mission Auditorium in Lodi Road, new Delhi. It was the valedictory session of the two day long ‘Sattra Darshan – Celebrating Sattra Institution of Assam’ program organized by the Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC) in association with Assam Sattra Mahasabha and Assam Association, Delhi. The theme of the meet was ‘Nationalism through Cultural Revolution’ and attempted to bring together the thoughts of Swami Vivekenanda and Srimanta Shankardeva. Few companies like ICO-AOD, IFFCO and SBI sponsored the event.


The bhaona presented by Titabar unit of Sattra Mahasabha was presented in the traditional ways. 'Parijat Haran' is one the 6 original bhaonas written by Shankardeva. The last time I had seen such a presentation of bhaona was probably 20 years ago, when my grand grand father (a sattradhikar himself) expired. Since then I had seen some presentation of bhaona by cultural groups of Sualkochi, near Guwahati. But they were more of costume drama than actual bhaona. The packed audiences, which include many non-Assamese, appreciated each of the scene with applause.


The meet seemed to have achieved its objective of presenting Shankardeva to a larger Indian audience. The art and culture introduced by Shankardeva is unique to Assam, not something imported from Bengal. Like our Bihu dance, Sattriya Dance and Bhaona are our own heritage. 


The main point that came up in speeches by many is that ASSAM IS THE ONLY STATE WHICH NEVER CAME UNDER A MUSLIM RULE. And yet today the local population faces extinction in the face of Muslim influx. The Madanis and Khaadanis have become Kingmakers of present Assam. If Assam is to survive, it will have to look back into the ways of Srimanta Shankardeva. The way he brought about a cultural revolution to show light to the society, we will have to bring a new revolution by reviving the Sattriya traditions. A reawakening is required for the Assamese society.


The traditional Bhaona form had become almost extinct. But being able to see it again after such a long brought delight to the face of every Assamese who were present last night. Meanwhile, Asom Sattra Mahasabha has put up a website. I think the site is still under construction. But it has some useful information. You can visit this site at Asom Sattra.

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