Assam’s unique Holi a 3
While Assam celebrates Holi more or less the way northern India does, the festival of colours takes a unique form in one part of the state: Barpeta.
In most places in the country Toms Outlet , the festival is associated with the story of a devout Prahalad and his arrogant father Hiranyakashyap who schemed to kill his own son with the help of his wicked sister Holika. Holika was burnt to ashes while trying to immolate Prahalad and Holi became a symbol of victory of faith and devotion over arrogance and evil.
It unfolds as a three to five day event which starts with fireworks. In Assam’s Sattriya tradition, Holi is a festival of heaven. In Barpeta, Holi is a celestial celebration played in their own small earthly heaven.
Srimanta Sankardev was a 15th century saint scholar, poet, playwright and social reformer who steered Assamese culture towards a Neo Vashnavite movement. Present day Assam’s artistic, cultural and literary traditions bear the unmistakable stamp of his influence.
Sankardev’s Bhakti movement led to large regular congregations of devotees, evolving the institution of Sattras, a kind of monastery. These are today the hub of all Vaishnavit Toms Outlet e religious and cultural activities.
Barpeta Sattra is one of the important institutions of this tradition. It came up in the 15th century. Its founder is credited with having started the present form of Dolmahotsav in Barpeta Sattra.
It seems that Srimanta Sank Toms Outlet ardev, who travelled to far corners of India before returning to Assam to propagate his Bhakti movement, brought back the concept of Holi with him and it became a part of Assamese culture.
On the first day of celebration known as Meshadaha, the beard of a he goat is burnt in a fire lit in front of the Sattra. This is considered a symbolic ritual to mark the killing Toms Outlet of the demon Mahisasur.
Festivities in the following days revolve around the story of Krishna and his two wives, Lakshmi and Ghunucha. As the legend goes, Krishna, known here as Kalia Thakur, was already married to Lakshmi when he also promised to marry Ghunucha, the daughter of Indradinna.
His secret visit to Ghunucha was discovered by Lakshmi who in her anger wrecked the kingdom of Indradinna and reprimanded Krishna when he returned home after his dalliance with Ghunucha. Krishna sought forgiveness.
During the festival at Barpeta, as a symbolic visit of Krishna to Ghunucha, the idols of Mahaprabhu Dol Govinda and Kalia Thakur are taken out in decorated palanquins. People sing and dance to the tune of cymbals and drums. They throw Faku, a pink powder, in the air. Everyone is smeared in colours and joy.
The celebrations continue through the days and nights with singing of devotional songs and dance. On the final day, when Krishna returns to Lakshmi, the celebrations are at its peak. From early morning, people converge at the Sattra complex dancing and singing.
By evening, the massive temple complex is filled to capacity with devotees and onlookers. In spite of the huge gathering, there is no rowdiness.
When the palanquins carrying Dol Govinda and Kalia Thakur reach the gates of Sattra, the devotees form two groups, one each representing the brigades of Lakshmi and Krishna. The people of Lakshmi bar the entry of Krishna with two thick bamboos; Kalia Thakur’s followers try to force their way.
In what follows, crowds look like a sea of humanity swaying to and fro. Finally the bamboos give way, making great crackling sounds; there is a deafening applause from the crowd. The procession then proceeds to take seven rounds of the temple, with people aesthetically dancing and rejoicing behind.