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South Kamrup gets ready for jatra season

- Kahiganga Natya Samaj inaugurates its practice camp at Barihat in the district

July 29: The season of jatras is back in south Kamrup.

Kahiganga Natya Samaj, a jatra troupe, today inaugurated its akhora ghira (practice camp) at Barihat near Mirza in Kamrup district.

Kahiganga is the first jatra troupe to set up its camp for this year in the south Kamrup area and soon other troupes will follow, said a resident.

All the troupes will be ready within next month. Most of them will perform their first show on Vishwakarma Puja (September 17), he added.

Kahiganga Natya Samaj was formed by a group of local artistes this year to keep alive the tradition of south Kamrup and provide a platform to local artistes to perform.

The jatra troupes also provide artistes from other parts of the state with a source to earning their living.

Mira Barua, a girl from Dibrugarh, who has been staying at Barihat for the past five years, works in a jatra troupe.

“I live here in a rented house. Jatra, where I perform as an artiste, is my source of livelihood,” she said.

The Kahiganga artistes have more than a decade experience in acting and working with other jatra troupes.

The themes of jatras — a popular form of folk theatres — were mostly religious. But nowadays they also deal with social issues. They are similar to the mobile theatres of Assam but perform only when they are invited to any occasion or function.

This year, Kahiganga will stage two plays — Dundubhi baje bokul bonot by Manjoy Dip Choudhury and Dharmayudha by Bhabesh Das.

“Our aim is not only to entertain people but also focus on social issues,” an organiser said.

He added they would also look into the business side to provide some financial relief to the artistes.

Jatra troupes are very popular in south Kamrup. It has at least 25 such troupes. A jatra troupe employs nearly 50 to 60 people,” said Balen Choudhury, who is associated with Kahiganga. At present, a jatra troupe charges Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 for one performance.

Janardan Mahanta Adhikari, xatradhikar of Sri Sri Saruheramdo Xatra, has witnessed the changes jatras have gone through in the past 50 years.

“Earlier, the troupes staged their plays on an open platform. But these days they perform on a stage open on three sides. Besides, themes and the treatment of the plays (with use of technology) almost feel like mobile theatres of the state,” Adkhikari said.