From Dhubri to Sadiya and from Silchar to Jonai, Assam is dancing, and humming. One can hear the sonorous songs of Bhupen Da and Rabindra Nath Tagore being rehearsed at one place, and then be mesmerised by the lyrics of Jyoti Prasad and Bishnu Rabha at another. If this is not enough, Bihu and other ethnic dances are bound to captitvate her imaginations.
This is precisely what is being attempted by the Government of Assam Sanskritik Mahasangram initiative which begins on November 10, 2023 and will continue till February 7, 2024. Of course, the effect of the initiative will go well beyond the date, just the way it has started creating ripples well before the main event.
Take the example of Arman Rahman of Sonari’s Ward No.7 in Charaideo district. For over a month when he first came to know about the Mahasangram, Arman has been relentlessly practising Bhupendra Sangeet, Jyoti Sangeet and the melodies of Bishnu Rabha. His mission is to get selected and perform these genres at the State level in February. “This is a stage for people like me. I have been learning music from Class III onwards. I am lucky that I will be competing in such a prestigious cultural event,” Arman told Asom Barta.
From November 10 to November 30, Assam will host the first phase of these competitions in six categories at various levels (Pl see box). The enthusiasm for this is sky high as in the case of Poppy Saikia of Chiring Sapori in Dibrugarh. She and other enthusiasts like her reached out to the Additional District Commissioner for registration of their wards. “Our team is called “Tainy”. It means girl in the Tai language. We are hopeful of advancing to the State-level. Besides a Bihu dance, we are practicing a Hajong dance. Our children are also rehearsing Tai-Ahom and Tiwa dances,” Poppy told this reporter.
Kashmira Patra is a student of MDK College in Dibrugarh. She hails from Gorudhoria Patea village. She has been rehearsing Bishnu Rabha’s Logon Ukoli Gol daily ever since she came to know of the Sanskritik Mahasangram.
Sonitpur district is equally buzzing with music and dance. Enthusiasts in numbers have registered themselves. One of them being Kristi Borthakur, a Class IX student of Maharshi Vidyamandir. “I am looking forward to learning a lot from the Mahasangram. The idea for me is not to aim at winning it but to improve my music skills.” Similarly, Niyorkona Bora, a Class XI student of Darrang College, who has some experience of participating at an All Assam-level competition, said that she is taking part in all categories of the music section.
Howli in Barpeta district of Assam has been a cultural centre of lower Assam for decades. Barnali Karmakar (12) here is a student of the Sapta Sangeet School. She has already selected her favourite songs which she would sing during the Mahasangram. “She is very interested in music. Locals are also impressed with her talent. An opportunity like this will be a platform for her to make a mark,” Barnali’s mother Rita told this newsletter.
On October 10, the logo, portal, symbols, jingle, kits meant for the adjudicators were unveiled by Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma. He said in his speech that MLAs have been advised to spend up to 10% of their MLA funds towards this major cultural initiative besides Khel Maharan.
This one-of-its-kind cultural initiative is targeted to touch the lives of 10 lakh participants wherein the State Government will expend ₹30 crore by organising the various phases of the competition at 3,000 places. The State-level competition will be held in Guwahati, while the grand finale will take place on February 7.