Barpeta Satra

By Juthika Das

Doul Festivals of Barpeta Satra

Doul festival is a famous festival in India. Apart from the rest of the country it is also a colourfully celebrated by the people of Assam, specially it is the tremendous occasion for the people of Barpeta.During the “doul utsava” the hearts of Barpetians are overwhelmed with festivity and joy. It is a festival of colour and happiness. Doul festival is a great source of happiness among the people of Barpeta. During this festival the people of Barpeta forget their sorrows and agonies and celebrate this festival with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm. Doul utsava is also called ‘holi’ or ‘Fakuwa’. In the month of “phagun” and “Chot” the spring comes, the world is filled with the green leaves of the trees, the flowers bloom, birds used to sin sweet songs, the gentle wind blows with fragrance and everything of this world changed into a different one. And it this sweet moment when Doul Utsava of Barpeta celebrated.

Holigeets of Barpeta are remarkably popular which enthralls the heart of every Assamese. These holigeets are the exquisite compositions in praise of Lord Krishna. People from different places visit Barpeta Satra with a view to see this doul utsava.

Doul utsava was started by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva after his great work chihnajatra and wrote some holigeets too —

“Range phagu khele chaitanya banamali
Duhate phagur gunda sichanta murari.

At Barpeta, Mathura Das Bura Ata first celebrated doul festival in the model of vaikuntha(heaven) because doul utsava was first celebrated in heaven. Thereafter, doul festival has been celebrated with satriya parampara (traditionally) till today at Barpeta satra. Barpeta satra is called Ditiya vaikuntha(second heaven) puri also.

Doul festival is celebrated three to five days. The three days Doul is called “Burha Doul” and four or five days Doul is called “Deka Doul”. According to the tradition four days doul is held in the month of “Phagun purnima” (full moon) and three days Doul is held in the month of “Chot purnima”(full moon).The first day is called gandha or banhutsava. It is an important day on which Vaishnavas bring nal,khagari and ekara for meji. That evening Mahaprabhu Doul Govinda and Kalia Thakur are brought out from manikut ghar to mathar chotal with gayan bayan. Mahaprabhu is then brought near the meji and after alighting the meji, mahaprabhu takes seven rounds around it. It is called meji puoa or magh puoa. ( We believe that now onwards winter is move out ) atachbaji  (Fireworks) or phanuch are the main attraction of gandha. people of Barpeta dance with colourful joy and gaiety during this festival.

Mahaprabhu is brought to jagmohan ghar after meji puoa and in asacred moment at night mahaprabhu is brought to doul ghar walking around the seven steps(sapta thak) and then the people of Barpeta sing the holigeeets with great enthusiasm –

Phagu khele karunamay
ananda kumara
devara durlava keli
phagur bihar.

The second day is called bhar doul. The Vaisanavas have naam-prasanga at jagmohan ghar. On that day after completing the morning song ojapali and gayan-bayan is held. Dhuliya nritya is also a memorable show which is held during these days.

The last day is called phakua or suweri. In the morning mahaprabhu is brought out from jagmohan ghar and is placed in the former place inside the kirtan ghar. At noon Kaliya Thakur and Mahaprabhu are again brought to mathar chatal, and the people of Barpeta showers phakuguri with joy. Holigeets and its echoes are spread all over Barpeta-

“Aji range range akakar
aaha bhai khelo sabe
mili prane pran
aaji Barpeta bardhame chouishe phagu ure
abir chandan badanate
aaji basanti kino rang dhaliche
parane parane naba siharan jagiche.

In this memorable day mahaprabhu and kaliya thakur are seated on a beautiful dola and as soon as mahaprabhu gosain reaches from Baradi satra, the Vaishnavas bring three mahaprabhu to kanara satra with a view to have heketa. In this jatra many people assemble and sing holigeets-

Aaji khele holi
range brindabane
gopa gopi sabe nache
phakur anande

Mahaprabhu returns from kanara satra. As Lord Krishna is not premited to come in by Lakshmi after his return from the house of Ghunucha a mahaprabhu is to prevented by the Vaishnavas with four bamboos  in front of Kirtan ghar. These four bamboos are divided among three haties-uttarhati-two bamboos, nahati-one bamboo and dakhinhati- one bamboo. After breaking these four bamboos Mahaprabhu walks around kirtan ghar seven times. Thus, after seven days with Ghunucha, Lord Krishna returns to Lakshmi. Lakshmi defeats Lord Krishna and after being defeat by Lakshmi Lord Krishna gives Rs 300 and then is admitted into Kirtanghar. Like this, the bhaktas of mahaprabhu fine him of Rs 300 and brings kalia thakur to bhaj ghar or Monikut.

“Sandhya samayat karia anek utsava

Doular bhitar goiya pailanta Madhava.”Aand thus ends this famous doul festival of Barpeta.

Maghor Damhi

Bihu is the national Festival of Assam. Bihu is also known as “Domahi” or “Domhi” for the people of barpeta. Magh bihu is very popular, especially for the people of Barpeta where Bihu is celebrated with satriya tradition( Parampara). This Domahi is the Domahi of Bhog, which means to taste the sweetness of Pitha, Laru, sandoh etc. In this festival the farmers granary is full and the women folk are busy making various delicacies. Magh bihu is the
festival of eating and enjoying, because of which it is popularly known as Bhogali Bihu.

Magh bihu is celebrated at Barpeta satra in a different light. Domahi is the main source of unity for the people of Barpeta satra, which has been observed traditionally for hundreds of years. As it has been observed traditionally, it naturally unite the people into the one thread of unity and this unity was made by our duo gurus Mahapurush Srimanta sankardev and Mahapurush Madhabdeva through his vaishnavism.

The day before Magh Bihu is called “Uruka”. In uruka, the boys make bhela ghar with “Birina Ban” and enjoy the whole night making fun and having a feast in the “Bhela Ghar” made by them. Meji is the main source of enjoyment which is called “Bhelamag”. The youths bring “Birina” and “nara” for “meji’. The lightening of the meji is also an enjoyable tradition. After “Meji puoa” the bhaktas distribute Prasad and the people take “Tilak” from the
ashes of the meji and taking the blessings from God as well as for peace and prosperity . The people of Barpeta also arrange feast in different localities. The mind of the people is also sublime at this moment and  this purity of mind compels them to unite with one another. And with satriya parampara this tradition remained same and no modernism can be able to touch it. The boys also make” chouka”, and “alubhaji” amidst  much merriment. The people of Barpeta satra welcome this festival very  ardently. Besides other tradition there are lot of other things done in Bhogali Bihu with satriya parampara Naam- prasanga is one of the main events of the people of the satra. Barpeta Satra is infact famous for its Chaidhya Prasanga and without prasanga no satriya prasanga is complete. On the first day of Magh Bihu the Ayatis of barpeta satra usedto go “ Mitha Aamar Tal”( at Keteki Bari) singing naam- prasanga. “ Charit Tola”( The Life history of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev and Sri
sri Madhabdeva) is the main tradition of these ayatis and it is very
beautiful. The Ayatis rmember the life and the tradition of our Dujana Gurus. Afterall Naam- prasanga is the main source of tradition for the people of barpeta . somany ayatis take part in this “Charit Tola” programme.

Though it is a time of economic hardship for the Barpetians,yet the Barpetians observed this festival with pomp and gaiety. These Barpetians tried their level best to keep our tradition alive and no modernism and no ill culture can be able to demolish our tradition. And it happens only for the unity among the Barpetians. And this tradition of unity bounded the Barpetians into the one thread of brotherhood and peace.

Bohagor Damhi

It is well-known to all that Bihu is the national festival of Assam. There is a saying that the word “Bihu” comes from the word of Tai language “Boi- Hu”. “Boi” means worship and “Hu” means cow. And the full meaning of it is   to worship the cow. And in the course of time the word “Boi-Hu” becomes as Bihu. Among the three bihus Rongali or Bohag Bihu is the festival of welcome of the Assamese New Year. Bihu is the backbone of Assamese culture. It is the festival of happiness, love and affection for the Assamese people. Rongali or Bohag Bihu is celebrated for seven days. During these days the heart of the young girls and boys cheers up and blooms with tremendous joy and gaiety. They are awaiting for this Bihu eagerly in order to get together and the weavers are also remained busy in weaving “Bihuwan (Gamocha)” which is the sign of honor and love and affection for the Assamese people. The price value of these “Bihuwan” or “Gamocha” may be the cheapest one, but it is the symbol of honor and respect for every Assamese. Hence, the Assamese people feel pride by offering a Gamocha to the guest who comes to visit Assam and the honor of this Gamocha is far more valuable than anything else. All over Assam Bohag bihu is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. But Barpeta is exceptional one. Here Bohag Bihu is celebrated with Satriya tradition and Barpeta satra is the main place of this tradition. The age old tradition remained here hundreds of years. We the people of Barpeta cannot think of any festival without Barpeta Satra. So, Bohag Bihu celebration in Barpeta is different than other part of Assam and we called it in our colloquial language Bohagor Damhi.

As all we know that Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhabdeva established Barpeta Satra  in 1573 AD in order to  preach the Neo- Vaishnavite culture . Barpeta satra is enlightened by the light neo- Vaishnavite culture of   Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva and Sri Sri Madhabdeva. For the people of Barpeta, the ‘Kirtan Ghar’ or Barpeta satra is the main source of Bohagor Damhi. The inhabitant of Barpeta united into the one thread of unity which bounded the people of Barpeta together. There is one culture as we can see in the midst of Barpetians, and that is satriya culture. Barpeta is a place of homogeneous culture, whereas Assam is a place of Heterogeneous culture. And all the people come to Barpeta Satra with a religious attitude. We cannot see the youths of Barpeta here performing Bihu dance in the open field of the locality like other parts of the state.

Bohag Bihu or “Bohagar Domhi is celebrated at Barpeta satra and Barpeta for seven days like other parts of the state. The first day is called here “Goru Bihu” or “Goru Domhi”. It is observed like the other parts of the state, where we change all the accessories of Cow to new one. The next day is called” Bor Domhi”, as it is the first day of Bohag. In this day , early morning people strike on the foot of other people with the tree of “Hatisura” ( elephant tree). And there is also a saying that by striking with the “Hatisura” the people also gets strength and can be able to work like the elephant. On this special day people at Barpeta also along with the other parts of the state, take bath with “Mah and Haladhi” and the Younger’s take blessings from the elder by giving “Bihuwan”. After than the people of Barpeta proceeded towards Barpeta satra or Kirtan Ghar  and knell down in front of “ Guru Aashan”  for the peace  or wellbeing of the society and theirself. It is already mentioned that all the festivals of Barpeta are  satra based and  without satra or Kirtan ghar it is incomplete.  In this first day of Bohagar Domhi after the regular prasanga, one astrologer come and explain in detail how the ensuing new year will be passed  in the state or country and also said about the good and bad sides of every Zodiac signs of  every human being. During this time of Bihu (Damhi) along with “chaidhya prasangas” “ Gayan- Bayan, Gosha Kirtan, and ojapali “ are also performed at Barpeta satra. And during these seven days the “ Bansaras or Haties” performed Ankiya Bhaonas ( Yatra) at “Tupar Chotal” in front of the main prayer hall( Kirtan ghar). Mentionable that the birth and death anniversary of the followers of  Mahapurush  Srimanta Sankardeva and  Sri Sri Madhabdeva couldn’t be found properly. That is why the “ Tithis”( Birth and Death anniversary) of those followers are observed during these seven days of Bohagor Damhi and five days of Maghor Damhi and at Barpeta satra it had been perhaps observed during the time of Mathura Das Bura Aata, the first Satriya of Barpeta satra.

There is also a tradition among the women of Barpeta that in the evening of “Bor Domhi” they used to collect vegetables (specially pot-herbs) which is in our colloquial language called “Sathek Tola”  and prepared a dish call Sathek ( Means seven variety of pot-herbs , mixed and prepared).

Bohagor Damhi here at Barpeta ended  in the seventh day of Bohag. That day is called “ Naam Domahi” or “Ath damhi”, because there is a great performance of “Thiya naam ” by the devotees of Barpeta which is unique perform art of Barpeta only. “ Thiya Naam” is held with the union of  22 haties,  ( mainly means thul ( main)   three haties- Dakshin Hati covers -6 haties, Nahati covers- 5 haties and Uttar hati covers – 11 haties). On that day thousands of devotees assembled together with a mind of unity and join in this famous  “ Thiya naam” at Barpeta satra. This thiya naam is at first started in front of “ Dalan”( main entrance door of the satra). The devotees  performed “ Thiya naam” with geart cymbols and enjoy it fully.  The heart of Barpetians enthralls with great devotion to lord Krishna as the compositions of the  Thiya naam is the  praise of lord Krishna. The devotees bring raw sugar on this holy day with aniseed and placed it at the “sarai” and take blessing in front of the kirtan ghar for peace and tranquility. Thiya Naam is also called “ Bir Naam”. There is a saying that this Thiya naam is so called Bir naam because  in the royal palace of king Bolli, the daityas  sang song jumping and dancing, hence as this Thiya naam is performed standing  and  jumping mode like the  daityas . The devotees here at Barpeta satra started the Naam in front of the entrance door under the shade of “ Chandra Taap” and later on enters into the  satra campus singing Naam and at last knelt down at Mathar  Chotal asking excuses to the lord Krishna and Guru dujana  ( Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev and Sri sri Madhabdeva) for any omission and commission in performing the “Thiya Naam”.There is a common believe among the people of Barpeta that  by performing this “ Thiya Naam’ they can be assured themselves that no evil power can be able to touch Barpeta, the second heaven  of the world and this believe still made the satra a unique one. After that the Bohagor Damhi is end up.