Assam Mahotsav
The organisers of the 17th edition of Assam Mahotsav addressing a press conference at Jorhat on Saturday. Image credit - Northeast Now

The 17th edition of Assam Mahotsav promises to take the Jorhatians on a roller coaster ride through the cultural traditions and customs of six ethnic communities of the state.

There will also be the performance of almost extinct Raati Bihu, a workshop on how to craft jewellery and other items from coconut husks and bamboo.

The visitors will also be able to gather knowledge on how to get arsenic and iron-free water at Rs 6.06 per 200 litres.

Various competitions will also be organized at the festival.

Addressing a meeting at Jorhat on Saturday, Dilip Kumar Bordoloi,  president of Intandem, the organisers of Assam Mahotsav since 2001,  said the festival now has become an annual event.

He said the festival which usually provided a platform to one tribe to showcase their culture, food, and tradition but this year it is going to be a multicultural event.

“In earlier years, we had showcased the Tiwas, Misings and Sonowal Kacharis. This year it will be a mix of six communities – Chutia, Sonowal Kachari, the tea tribes individually (Santhalis, Orangs, Mundas, etc.) and the Tai Khamyangs with their unique Buddhist traditions,” Bordoloi said.

January 17 and 20 are the days which have been set aside for the tea tribes and Chutias respectively, to hold discussions on the development of their literature and exclusive musical instruments and for the performance of their songs and dances.

Intandem member Prasenjit Rajkhowa explained Raati Bihu, which he said was almost extinct.

“Raati Bihu takes one back to the roots of Bihu when it was danced freely in the harvested paddy fields at night. In this Bihu, only unmarried girls are allowed to dance and youth can join them to play the pepa only if permission is granted by the girls,” he said.

“Although this is mentioned in the curriculum of classes IX and X, the teachers also describe this as a Bihu dance only performed at night, which is wrong,” he further said.

Rajkhowa also said on January 27, there will be a demonstration of how water can be made free of arsenic and iron by a process, which is extremely cheap.

The Assam Mahotsav, which was postponed from December 25 to January 12, will be held from January 16-29 at the JDSA field next to the stadium.

Intandem is making arrangements for setting up 120 stalls with a separate part for indigenous handicrafts and handlooms of the different tribes of Assam.

Assam Mahotsav
Tai Khamyangs erect these structures as a feature of Buddhist faith. Image credit – Northeast Now
Tai Khamyangs erect these structures as a feature of Buddhist faith. Image credit – Northeast Now

“The Assam Mahotsav is not only to do with the ethnic and indigenous customs and traditions, folksongs and holding but it also promotes a vibrant trade in the region and beyond,” said Dilip Bordoloi.

Arup Duarah, another Intandem member, said the Tai Khamyangs will construct a pillar akin to the meji as part of Buddhist traditions on Maghi full moon night at the venue.

The Mahotsav will be inaugurated on January 16 by Assam’s first woman Vice-Chancellor Dr Malini Goswami of Assam Women’s University here.

Among those who will be felicitated are Sattriya artiste Tankeswar Barbayan, Assam’s first  National Institute of Sports coach in Athletics Mohan Borah and Bokota based  Mohan Saikia who will conduct the Bamboo workshop. Intandem member Rajkumar Duara said Mohan Borah had been instrumental in discovering sprint queen Junmoni Saikia of Majuli.

There will be competitions in cooking, ethnic wear, drawing, and modern songs among others.

One can contact at 9435478294, 7002508639 or 7002662936 for details.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com