A journey that began in Sadiya’s Anka Village from the house of a Government school teacher on September 8, 1926 has continued unabated in the annals of Assam’s cultural landscape. Like a gypsy, Bhupen Hazarika, the son of Nilkanta Hazarika and Shantipriya Das, has planted his musical and humanistic steps at every nook and cranny of the State.
Last month on September 8, the Directorate of Culture celebrated his 97th birthday with an all religion prayer at the Samadhi Kshetra of the Bard. The All Assam Students’ Union celebrated it on the banks of the Dighalipukhuri, while the Bhupen Hazarika Cultural Trust celebrated Sammannay Divas with a two day programme at Debraj Roy College in Golaghat.
In the same programme, Naga statesman and peace activist Niketu Iralu was named as the recipient of the Bhupen Hazarika Integration Award (Xomonnoy Bota) 2023. The award, instituted by the Bhupen Hazarika Cultural Trust in 2013, is given away annually. Its first recipient was Lata Mangeshkar.
Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma taking to social media spoke of how Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika united the composite Assamese society with his renditions, and compositions. Dr Sarma wrote that Bhupen Hazarika’s colossal personality and talent influenced music, literature, arts and culture, cinema and politics of Assam which, in turn, made him an adorable personality in the country.
It is worth recalling that it was during the chairmanship of Bhupen Hazarika that Xattriya Dance was given the classical status.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, took to the social media to inform others how Bhupen Hazarika had contributed a song in the State’s first film Mera Dharam, Meri Maa.
Educationist Amarjyoti Choudhury while talking to Asom Barta called on the importance of a wider debate on the cultural contribution of the Bard, despite the fact his ideology has been widely appreciated. “His oft quoted statement that music is an instrument of social change has to be taken to heart by the next generation who must feel his presence around them,” Choudhury said.
He added that the Government should continue to organise programmes around Xudhakantha. He also called for a library at the Kalakshetra for the next generation to know more about the legend.
Singer Rupam Bhuyan is one of the ardent followers of the ideals and music that Bhupen Hazarika represented. “We see a true artiste in Xudhakhanta. The present generation should not confine him to music alone. That would be a mistake. His creations have touched the composite life of Assam. His Manuhe Manuhor Babey has delivered a universal message for humanity,” the talented Bhuyan told this reporter.
He said that Bhupen Hazarika’s songs should be taught through textbooks in the form of poems while insisting that his compositions have global spread, including neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Directorate of Culture has, meanwhile, initiated steps to set up a museum in Sankardev Kalakshetra whose preliminary work has already been completed. The Museum will help generations remember and know more about a personality whose creations have transcended time and space.