Monday, September 5, 2016

শালমৰা 


Image Source: Internet

নাম শালমৰা
মাজুলীৰ বুকুৰে এচপৰা
ইয়াত উকিয়ালে
নৈৰ পানী বোৰে শুনিপোৱা।

কথাতে কয়, বোলে-
শালমৰাৰ টেকেলী, জেংৰাইমুখৰ আপ ং
জপনা মুখ নৌ পাওতেই ঢলং ঢপ ং ।

এফালে গাঁও ফুলনি
আনফালে পানী আৰু পানী
পানীততো নগজে ধান 
শালমৰাৰ মানুহৰ বাবে আকালেই ভৰাল।

ধন ধান নাই
আছে আলতীয়া মাটি 
তাৰেই শালমৰাৰ মানুহে বনাই 
কলহ-টেকেলী।

ফাগুন মহীয়া ৰাতি
শালমৰা  এৰি গুছি যায় মুহিৰামৰ নাও
এহেজাৰ এশটা টেকেলী বান্ধি, বনিজ বেহাবলৈ
লক্ষীমপুৰ, তেজপুৰ, পাছিঘাট, ডিব্রুগড়

নাৱে বোলে টুলু ং ভুটু ং 
ব'ঠাই বোলে বাও
মুহিৰামৰ এটাই চিন্তা-
ঘুৰি আহি বা গাঁওখন ইয়াত পাওনে- নেপাও।

যোৱাবাৰ শাওনত
নামঘৰটো পানীত গ'ল, কুৰিঘৰ মান উচন হ'ল
বৰবাটটো একেবাৰে দুফাল হ'ল।
Image Source: Internet

বৰবাট দুফাল হ'ল
শালমৰা দুখন হ'ল
সৰু শালমৰা- বৰ শালমৰা
সৰু শালমৰাত নতুন নামঘৰ হ'ল
বৰ শালমৰাতো এটা হ'ল

এটা বোলে কংগ্রেছৰ
আনটো বি জে পি ৰ

জানো পাই!
এইবোৰ ভাবিলে মুহিৰামৰ কিবা মুৰটোহে ঘূৰাই।

ভাল নেলাগে পায়!
বান অহাৰ আগেয়ে
মানুহবোৰে নিজৰ মাজতে লাগি  যেতিয়া আলি এটা চিঙে।

এইয়া...লক্ষীমপুৰ আহি পাও পাও
মুহি ৰামৰ এটাই চিন্তা
ঘুৰি আহি বা দুখন শালমৰা দেখা পাও নে নেপাও।


বি দ্র ঃ শালমৰা মাজুলী নদী-দ্বীপৰ অন্তর্গতঃ এটুকুৰা অঞ্চল। বানৰ সংহাৰৰ পৰা মুক্ত নহয় যদিও ইয়াৰ শিল্পী সকলে  অভাৱ আৰু নাটনিৰ মাজতে নিয়মিত ভাবে শিল্পকর্ম কৰি আহিছে। এই অঞ্চলৰ মাটিৰ কলহ- টেকেলী অসমজুৰি বিখ্যাত।

ৰচনাঃ দেৱজিত বৰা
কালঃ ২০১৫

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Politics of performance and the creation of Darangi Identity: looking at the Ojapali performance of Assam

Published Research Article:

Journal: Research in Drama Education: An Journal for Applied Theatre and Performance
Published by: Rouledge, Taylor and Francis Group

ISSN: 1356-9783 (Print) 1470-112X (Online) 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13569783.2016.1220245

This article arises from my academic research, ‘Performing history, identity and cultural politics: A study on the Ojapali performance of Assam’ completed at Jawaharlal Nehru University in July 2015. Ojapali as a performance has been much studied; however, it has not been examined in relation to Darangi cultural identity. Here, I am interested in the relationship between performance and cultural identity and how, as a cultural practice, performance can support the creation of other identities.
KEYWORDS: OjapaliIdentityAssamDarang
Assam, a state with red rivers and blue hills situated in the north eastern part of India, is often depicted in romanticised terms. Vibrant cultural forms from Bagurumba to Bihu dance are significant cultural signatures of the region. The pre-colonial history of Assam mainly tells us about two parts: Koch state (Western and Northern parts of Brahmaputra river) and Ahom state (Eastern part of Brahmaputra river), although different dynasties ruled these areas over the various historical periods. Today, the Koch state is regarded as Lower Assam and the Ahom part is known as Upper Assam. In terms of culture, Assam is heterogeneous, but due to political factors Upper and Lower is not equally represented as far as cultural policies and platforms are concerned. I argue that the very tendency of projecting Upper Assam’s Sivasagar District as the ‘cultural capital’ of the state plays a hegemonic role that works against recognising and valuing cultural performance from Lower Assam. Darang is a district situated in the northern part of river Brahmanputra in Lower Assam. The generally accepted historical narrative is that this district became the hub of Ojapali performance when Darangi Dharmanarayana ruled over it during 1615 A.D. to 1637 A.D. As the king was a devotee of serpent goddess Manasha, he patronised poet Sukabi Narayanadeva to write Padmapurana, a piece of poetry about the myths of Goddess Manasha. This poetry forms the basis on which the Ojapali is performed in Darang. With the gradual shrinking popularity of Ojapali in other parts of Lower Assam, Darang became the hub for Ojapali performance and during the 1990s, intellectual and cultural representations began to describe Ojapali as the ‘culture’ of Darang. Various pieces of research, mostly coming from the literature department of Guwahati University, have canonised the notion of ‘Darangi’ as cultural identity and thus the term ‘Darangi Culture’ came in to discourse.

Ojapali as a performance

Nabin Chandra Sharma argues that Ojapali, as an epic storytelling form in Assam, derives from the Kathakata tradition. The Kathakata tradition is an ancient epic storytelling practice in India and various performance forms that feature epic narrative are believed to have originated from this tradition (Sharma 1996Sharma, N. C1996Asomor Poribeshya Kola: OjapaliGuwahati:Bani Publication., 12). The word ‘Kathakata’ means ‘narration’, therefore one can assume that the main intention of performances like Ojapali was to narrate stories. Ojapali includes moments of dance and drama and five or six performers are involved in a performance. The performers are generally male and the performance has been passed on from one generation to another. Performers represent ‘Oja’ and ‘Pali’. Oja is the leader of the troupe and the others are Palies. Pali, who stands at the right side of the Oja (called Dainapali), plays an active role in assisting Oja. Oja starts singing songs and then Dainapali takes over, with the help of other Palies. The performance text of Ojapali, based on mythological stories, mainly revolves around serpent goddess Manasha and the stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Although it is a religious performance, the popularity of Ojapali is sustained because of its grotesque aesthetics and versatility. Oja and Palies also sometimes introduce their own story, which mixes with the epic story. During the Indian Independence movement (1947) and the Assam movement (1980), this performance text was filled with the slogans and songs of the movement. Generally, Ojapali performers are related to communities that are close to agriculture and this is also reflected in their performances (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Oja Lalit Chandra Nath and his group during a performance in Manasha Puja, Mangaldoi, 2012.
To see the rise of Darangi as a cultural identity and read the politics of performance in relation to this identity in the context of Assam, we need to go back to 2000, when the Sattriya dance of Assam was awarded the status of ‘8th Classical dance of India’ and state machinery started to represent it as an ‘approved’ dance. This arose from a struggle of 42 years, and the Sattriya dance received this status when Dr Bhupen Hazarika, the legendary singer from Assam, became the chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademy (the national academy of Dance, Music and Theatre in India). But the issue of classicisation of Sattriya was first raised by Dr Maheshwar Neog in 1958 in the first ever dance seminar in independent India, organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademy. Neog, in a paper presented at the seminar, not only mentioned Sattriya but also Ojapali and Devnati or Devdasi dance forms from Lower Assam. Later, Neog commented, ‘There are three dance forms in Assam, which carry the classical elements in it. 1. Sattriya dance, 2. Sabhagowa and Rang gowa Ojapali, and 3. Devgharar Nati (Devdasi) Dance’ (Neog 1990Neog, Maheshwar1990Sattriya DanceNew DelhiSangeet Natak Akademy., 85). In the same seminar, Suknani Oja Lalit Chandra Nath, Kinaram Nath and other performers demonstrated Ojapali.
Surprisingly, the intellectual circles of Assam became obsessed with the classical recognition of Sattriya but nobody mentioned Ojapali. Some scholars argue that this was because Sattriya has inherent institutional status arising from their base in Sattras – the cultural centres for Vaishnava culture, with the Vaishnavism movement an important socio-religious movement in Assam. Ojapali lacked such a base and hence Sattriya was privileged. However, if classical status was awarded on the grounds that Sattriya has classical elements in it, then so does Ojapali. There is evidence of Ojapali influence on the language, elements and gestures of Sattriya. We also find evidence in the works of Neog about the classical elements of Ojapali – ‘The Ojapali chorus is imagined to be precursor of the orchestral band or gayana-bayana (drummer-singer) of the later dramatic performances, while Shankardev’s Sutradhara who persists all through the representation, has his proto types in the Oja of Ojapali’ (Neog 1985, 45). Sutradhara is the narrator or the anchor of Ankiya Bhaona, a theatre tradition introduced by Shankardeva to propagate the ideology of Vaishnava. Whilst seeing both performance forms, one encounters certain similarities in terms of body language, gestures and gaits. Nabin Chandra Sharma’s argument that Ojapali is one of the agents of the Kathakata tradition in Assam (Sharma 1996Sharma, N. C1996Asomor Poribeshya Kola: OjapaliGuwahati:Bani Publication., 12) suggests in fact that Ojapali originated much earlier than the Sattriya dance. This point raises questions about the official recognition of Sattriya as a classical dance and the neglect of Ojapali performance.

The scene of marginalisation

Scholars have long discussed identity as an outcome of social interaction. The kind of identity Darangi cultural practitioners reproduce and represent is not overtly visible. State machinery projects Upper Assam, and really just the ‘Sivsagar’ district, as a cultural capital. There is therefore an often invisible cultural gap between Lower and Upper parts of Assam. Since the turn of the millennium, Ojapali has experienced a decline. Young performers became less interested in learning the performance and now it faces a challenge in terms of its survival. Most Ojapali performers are from poor families and new generations of Darangi people have been forced to join the industrial labour force as agricultural work is no longer profitable. During my field work, I met Phularam Nath, a performer, who said,
I have spent most of years performing Ojapali with Lalit Chandra Nath Oja but now I can’t survive by doing only Ojapali. It is no more profitable for me. I too have a stomach, so I have to sacrifice even if I have a strong interest towards the performance. (author note: Lalit Chandra Nath Oja is the doyen of Ojapali and the first recipient of Sangeet Natak academy award for Ojapali)
Ojapali of the Darang district is confined to a few families, such as Lalit Chandra Nath, Kinaram Nath and Dharmeswar Dutta. It is important to mention here that family legacy plays a vital role in the survival of this performance because the new generation learn the practice from their fathers and grandfathers. During the time in which performers were more attached to agrarian activities, this intergenerational exchange was the only source of Ojapali’s survival (Figure 2).
An attempt was made to support Ojapali in 2010 by the then Director of North East Centre for Cultural Relations, Mr O.P. Bharti. He set up a school under Sukanani Oja Lalit Chandra Nath and appointed some expert practitioners as instructors. After three years, the course closed as the authority stopped funding. Medini Mohan Nath, son of Lalit Chandra Nath Oja said, ‘The school was a hope for us to keep alive the art form, but we were surprised, why has the centre had done this without even informing us?’ (Bora, 2015). Here, the roles of government funding agencies might be critiqued for how they treat an art form like Ojapali and a turn to Baz Kershaw’s description of culture and power is clarifying. He comments that culture often benefits the ‘ruling class’ as it is ‘largely the function of cultural production to reinforce the structures of power by promulgating a dominant ideology which operates in the interest of such ruling classes’ (Kershaw 1992Kershaw, Baz1992The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural InterventionNew York:Routledge., 14). And so, the question is, are the ruling classes still using these art forms for their own political benefit?
It is sad that till date only two Ojapali performers have been conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademy award, the highest award of the country for performing arts, only to Lalit Chandra Nath Oja and Kinaram Nath. In addition, many performers have few hopes of ever receiving any government aid. New generations of performers are unable to avail themselves of financial help while other popular performance forms receive regular support. Recently, however, a few educated people from the Managaldoi district started practicing Ojapali. They are trying to hold this art form together through regular workshops and practice. They identify themselves as performers of ‘Darangi culture’ and are helping to sustain the performance form and Darangi cultural identity through regular social interaction, which can also be identified as ‘ideological interaction’ (Cover 2005Cover, Jeremy2005. “My Performed Identity.” Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self Knowledge III (1&2): 153158., 6). Darangi cultural ideology and identity represented by recent performers of Darangi firstly asserted individually and following this, Ojapali performance has provided a platform to collectively struggle for that identity.
As such, Ojapali performance in this context can be read as a struggle for recognition of the cultural identity of Lower Assam. Here, it is useful to quote a performance sequence of Oja and Pali:
Oja:
o, Edineko poti jawoto chndrawali tawto kathiya.
Bidhatar likhan najay chariya//
Pali:
Jetiya ji hobalaga ase age hoi/
Bidhatar hosa misa kodasit nohoy.
Oja:
Aair ghorot jam bole duhate kham/
Pali:
Bidhatai nohoy bule pise pise jam /
Jiyekir ghorot nijeti jai kidang kidang kore
Tetelir patot bhat barhi di ukalikanda kore//
Oja:
Adsha
Pali:
Dukhiyar kotu nai sukh/
Ghate ghate pani khai hukai jai mukh //
Eke pai jak sotake paitak/
Dukhiyar dukhe pala nangal holake fal nilak//
Oja:
hoy,hoy,aru?
Pali:
Atalu nilak singa boitha nilak/
Potharor nilak mor tola kathiya//
Oja:
Banat moril tinita bhai/
Tinita kukur mori gel pithaguri khai//
Bule kar agot kom,kone potiyabo/
Kar murot dhorim kune batiyabo// (Sharma 1996Sharma, N. C1996Asomor Poribeshya Kola: OjapaliGuwahati:Bani Publication., 78)
Oja:
Almighty’s (bidhata) predictions are never erased.
Pali:
It’s not all about the Almighty’s prediction,
Whatever will happen is already set.
Oja:
We will go to mother’s home and have food with both hands
Pali:
Wherever you go. Almighty will follow you.
(Rhythmic)Gone to the daughter’s home asking for something
Had food in the tamarind leaf and saying something big.
Oja:
Ok (Oja supports)
Pali:
Poor people would never be happy.
Their mouth gets dry
They talk to those which have the same status.
Unhappiness and poverty never be separated.
Oja:
Alright, what else?
Pali:
This time, farming is not going well.
Flood has come and taken away all the seeds.
Pali:
Three of my brothers passed away during the flood
In that pain, three pets also died
Now whom shall I speak to, who will listen to us? (Translated by the author)
The above performance sequence can be seen as a representation of Lower Assam. Drawing on the epic story of Ramayana, performers express their social problems and hardships. Floods during the time of cultivation are a frequent and significant problem in both Lower and Upper Assam. The performance sequence simply tells a story of the performer’s own experience, improvised during the performance itself, and the typical colloquial Assamese language tongue of Lower Assam has been used here.
More than a performance of mythology, I see Ojapali as a performance that expresses the rhythms and pressures of everyday life. These songs, which are aurally developed by an uneducated farmer class, are equivalent to historical documents, as they capture the events of time in memoriam. Looking back today, we can see that most of the performances once widely popular in Lower Assam are gradually disappearing from the cultural landscape. For example, one hardly now finds performed the traditional performances of Lower Assam such as Thiyo Naam, Mohoho and Kamrupia Dhuliya. I argue that this is caused by the cultural hegemony of Upper Assam. The revival of Ojapali represents the potential to re-assert the cultural practices of Lower Assam and lead a cultural movement. But what this will look like, and how to identify and develop the effective strategies to reassert this identity remain questions yet to be answered.

Notes on contributor

Debajit Bora is presently pursuing PhD in Theatre and performance studies, School of Arts and Aeshetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Earlier he has submitted his M.Phil. thesis entitle ‘Performing History Identity and Cultural Politics: A study on the Ojapali Performance of Assam’ in the same department. He is an MA in Mass Communication and Journalism from Tezpur University, Assam. Besides, he has been actively engaged with theatre and performing arts practice since his childhood. He is associated with ‘Kristi’ a group of cultural practice in Assam.

References:

Cover, Jeremy. 2005. “My Performed Identity.” Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self

Knowledge III (1&2): 153–158.

Kershaw, Baz. 1992. The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention. New York:Routledge.

Neog, Maheshwar. 1990. Sattriya Dance. New Delhi: Sangeet Natak Akademy.

Sharma, N. C. 1996. Asomor Poribeshya Kola: Ojapali. Guwahati: Bani Publication.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ratipuwa (The Morning), A Short Film

1st Poster of the Film 'Ratipuwa (In the morning)'



Synopsis: Assam Bandh is consciously or unconsciously one of the major obstacle in the path of development over the few years in the state of Assam. Though it is based on non-violence method of protest but often it take turn towards violence. This protest becoming a tool of Anarchist. It has also been misused over the years by different organisation. Latest violences in the name of Assam Bandh has taken a number life as well. Not only Assam, but the whole North East India . A report by the Federation of Commerce and Industries in the North Eastern Region had indicated that a day's bandh in Assam costs the state exchequer of Rs.41.14 crore. These money mathematics may be centred around big corporate sectors but it mostly affects common people and specially the daily wage labours. 


Monday, March 26, 2012

Still from the play: BARUA KERANIR GOLPO.


Play: Barua Keranir Golopo (Story of Clark Barua)
Language : Assamese
Writer: Debajit Bora

1st Show: Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha Auditorium, Tezpur University
Year: 2012
Direction: Debajit Bora
Music: Arup Mushahary
Lights: Abhishek Hans
Actors: Kankana Bora, Imrana Begum, Parismita Saikia, Ankita Deuri,Pritam,Dibyajyoti Sharma, Manabjyoti, Bhrigu Talukdar, Diganta Bora, Palashjyoti Bora, Debajit Bora

Awards: Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor (T.U. Annual Meet: 2012)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snaps from the Play: JOTA ( THE SHOE)








Play: Jota (The Shoe)
Written by: Debajit Bora

1st Show: Kala Guru Bishnu Prasad Rabha Auditorium, Tezpur University
(As part of Inter University Youth Festival, East Zone)
Year: 2011
Direction: Himjyoti Dutta
Music: Loy Tsangpo & Kankana Bora
Actors: Debajit Bora, Santanu Rowmuria, Jyoti Mishra, Pritamjyoti Bora, Rituparana Saikia
Award: 2nd Best Play in Inter university youth fest, east zone

2nd Show: Deshpande Hall, RTM University, Nagpur
(As part of Inter University Youth Festival, National)
Year: 2012
Direction: Himjyoti Dutta
Music: Loy Tsangpo & Kankana Bora
Actors: Debajit Bora, Santanu Rowmuria, Jyoti Mishra, Pritamjyoti Bora, Rituparana Saikia

3rd Show: Baan Theatre, Tezpur
(As part of Bishnu Rabha Memorial All Assam one act play competition)
Year: 2013
Direction: Himjyoti Dutta
Actors: Kunal Bora, Ankita Gogoi, Himjyoti Dutta, Rituparana Saikia
Award: Best Script Writer

4th Show:
 KBR Auditorium, Tezpur University
Year: 2013
Direction: Himjyoti Dutta
Actors: Kunal Bora, Dipjyoti Gogoi, Himjyoti Dutta, Rituparana Saikia



Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tejeemola, the Play



Tejeemola is a famous folk tale of assam. It is about a girl called Tejeemola ,who was totured and later killed by her step mother on the absence of her Father.This story was written by Laxminath Bezbarua and included in his Folk tale collection BURHI AAIR XADHU.

This play was performed by Kristi of Tezpur University.The Dramatist tries to bring the present political scenario and improvise the play rather than giving the shape of the old story. Dramatist focuses on post Tejeemola's death scenarios. Xundor ,Tejeemola's lover, later bring the issue of Tejeemola's justice (in the play, Tejeemola killed as witch) With this very issue he able to mobilise the masses and thus he came to power defeating the king of the state. But he unable to deliver justice to Tejeemole as he himself became blind under the power of kingship and became a authoritarian ruler. The story reflects various political consequences happening around the state at that very time.


Play: Tejeemola
Story: Lakshminath Bezbarua
Conceptualisation and Dramatisation: Debajit Bora

1st Show
Group: Kristi
Venue: KBR Auditorium, Tezpur University
Year: 2011
(On the occasion of 100 years of Burhi Aair xadhu)
Direction: Himjyoti Dutta
Music: Loy Tsangpo
Lights: Bipul Rabha
Make -Up: Bijoy Shankar Saikia
Stage Management: Rabha Da
Production adversers: Prof. Amarjyoti Chaudhury, Dr. Bhimprasad Sharma
Actors: Kunal Bora, Somik Benerjee, Kankana Bora, Krishna Dutta, Dipjyoti Gogoi, Ankumon Sharma, Antora Bora, Anusuya Borthakur, Pritam Bora, Dibyajoti Sharma, Krishna Tamuly, Hema Saikia, Gangutri, Muktikam Hazarika,Minakshi, Debajit, ect

2nd Show
Venue: Dergoan, Golaghat
Year: 2013
Direction: Mrigen Bora

3rd Show
Group: Amateur Theatre Society, Golaghat
Venue: Amateur Theatre Hall, Golaghat
Year: 2013
Director: Parakash Bora & Rustam Bora
Lights: Rustam Bora
Design: Rustam Bora
Actors: Minakshi Phukan, Kasturi Tamuly, Priyabrat Saikia, Subrat Kakoty, Roman Bora, Rajib Das, Rupjyoti Mahanta etc.