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Majuli small island in Assam

by on February 18, 2008

majuli.jpgMajuli’s cultural and natural diversity still survives in Assam. The island is mostly rural and has over 240 villages with a rich mix of different tribes and communities. It is not a fully developed tourist spot yet so this means my holiday will be filled with unusual experiences. I lived in a tribal village, ate at the rivers stayed in the customary confines of the satras. The satras in Majuli predate the birth of the island. In the early 16th century, the great Assamese Vaishnavite reformer and Saint Srimata Shankardev established the first satra at Belguri, the western part of Majuli, which no longer exists due to erosion. Soon after other satras started coming up, land was easily available, the Ahom kings were generous patrons and there was water in plenty. Over time Majuli became the hub of these unique cultural monasteries. Even today all the satras follow a well defined administrative structure with the Satradhikari as the supreme guru, with many others performing designated tasks.

Dakhipat Satra established in the 17th century is best known for its unique Ras Leela the famous cosmic dance depicting Lord Krishna dancing with the gopis. It is an hour bus ride; there is also a ferry from Nimati Ghat which takes about 11/2 hours.

Auniati Satra is home to around 400 devotees, followers of the Udaseen Pratha of Madhadev, which demands celibacy from its adherents. In case anybody comes here in the month of October or November then do not miss the Pal Naam mauji-auniati-monastery.jpgwhich is a religious ceremony in which prayers are offered for 4-5 days without break. It takes the flavour of a mass festival attracting hundreds of people from all over who pray for day and nights to end. At this time the monastery looks heavenly lit up with diyas through the month.

At the Garhmur Satra, the Pal Naam goes on for only 24 hours. The satra also known for Ras Leela has many ancient items in its safekeeping, including a huge wooden pair of Garuda birds.

Although it was once displaced due to soil erosion many manuscripts of historical and cultural importance were lost however Kamlabari satra still has a lot to offer to Majuli’s cultural richness.

Apart from all the satra’s a visit to Kumhar Gaon is a must because this entire village is of potters and no one uses the wheel. The people here are extremely skilled at fashioning symmetrical clay pots using their hands only. My guide told me that anywhere in Majuli you ask about the bhaona performance which is a religious threatre that takes its stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas.

majuli-face.jpgMy visit to Mishing villages was rewarding because of the rich and vibrant culture the especially come alive during 2 famous festivals Ali Aai Ligang celebrated during the sowing season and Parag a harvest festival.

I picked up mirizim a fantastically warm shawl woven by the Mishing women in colorful designs in Jengraimukh. I stayed at the Kamlabari satra guest house as there are not too many options plus a stay at satra offered an unusual experience

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One Comment
  1. Description of all the satras with different cultural heritage, activities along with detail photograph would be more interesting. Also life style of different people will also be most interesting.

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