Amid the coronavirus scare and lockdown where the people have been leisurely spending their time indoors, a quinquagenarian of Udalguri district is contrarily investing his time to produce ‘Dotora’ and ‘Dogor’ – the two popular musical instruments used in various genres of folk music in Bengal and Assam.

Though the art of crafting the instruments require good craftsmanship, Naren Deka, a fourth grade employee of Tangla Girls High school and an inhabitant of Milanpur locality of Tangla town  Udalguri district  who had imbibed the skills three decades back is putting best efforts to keep himself engaged in the leisure period and produce the instruments.

Over the years, the folk musical instruments of Assam are over taken by the Western musical instruments and the apathy of government to encourage such craftsmanship  have also  posed  threat to the  indigenous skills which is dying a slow death.

Deka while sitting in the courtyard of his home has been diligently focusing on giving the instruments final touch up which he said took him one and half month time and he has targeted to produce 40-50 Dotora and Dogor each.

Deka told this correspondent, “I have imbibed the art of making them during my youth when I was unemployed but after getting absorbed in the school as a fourth grade employee, I only played the instruments in cultural shows but the lockdown period has given me the opportunity to make some of them and invoke the interest of the young generation who these days only knows about guitar and allied western music instruments.”

Deka also believes that such indigenous craftsmanship is a labour intensive sector and its products belong to the tradition of highly skilled activities that require long hours of painstaking manual labour.

“I feel there is an ample  market demand  and wider reach for these products we need to tap the market, and the government must mull to formulate policies to ensure a life of dignity for the artistes,” Deka said.

Deka further reiterated that Assam’s indigenous folk musical instruments are deeply rooted in the socio-cultural traditions with a rich heritage of skills and talent that needs to be preserved, perpetuated and promoted.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com