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Museum tribute to social leaders

Jorhat, June 6: Future generations of the state will get a glimpse of a rich segment of Assam history in the form of paintings and personal belongings of 11 Srimanta Sankardev Sangha padadhikars (supreme leaders) in a unique museum set up here.

The museum, which has been constructed on the premises of the naamghar (prayer hall) of the Jorhat branch of the Sangha along KB Road here, will formally open its doors to visitors from Saturday.

Conceptualised and constructed by a family here in memory of a member, Bhogeshwar Saikia, who lost the battle to a terminal disease in 2011, the museum will highlight the contributions of the Sangha towards bringing about social changes in the state.

Founded in 1930 in Nagaon district, Srimanta Sankardev Sangha is a state-level socio-cultural organisation of Vaishnavites that has been playing an active role in spreading Srimanta Xankardeb’s message and philosophy to bring about positive changes in Assamese society. Rajeshwar Saikia, a member of the donor family and also a Sangha member, told reporters here today that they had taken up the project in memory of their younger brother Bhogeshwar — a teacher in the Jorhat Engineering College chemistry department — who passed away in 2011.

Saikia said he and Bhogeshwar had conceptualised the project together before his death. Hence, they decided to name the building constructed to house the museum Bhogeshwar Saikia Smriti Bhawan. A committee, including Rajeshwar and some noted persons, was formed to implement the project.

On the need for such a museum, Saikia said the Sangha had a glorious history and “our upcoming generation should know about the role the Sangha and the people leading it played in spreading the teachings of the saint and also about their movement against casteism.”

He said the Sangha appreciated the idea and allowed the museum to be set up on its naamghar premises here. It was also planning to set up more such museums in other districts, he added.

He said the museum would showcase oil paintings of the Sangha’s 11 padadhikars — all hailing from undivided Sivasagar district comprising Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar — drawn by well-know artist from Guwahati, Rintu Khargoria. Among the 11, only two, including current Padadhikar Rajanikanta Dutta and Mukheswar Saikia, are alive. Summaries in Assamese and English besides the portraits will list the contributions of each padadhikar.

The other padadhikars whose lives the museum will highlight are Pitambar Dev Goswami (also xatradhikar of Garmur Xatra, Majuli, and a freedom fighter and social reformer), Baghmibar Nilomoni Phukan (former president of Asam Sahitya Sabha), Dimbeshwar Neog (former president of Asam Sahitya Sabha), Sashi Chandra Barbaruah (Vaishnavite scholar), Gopikaballav Goswami (first padadhikar of the Sangha), Brinchi Kumar Baruwati (Vaishnavite scholar), Rikheshwar Doloi (Vaishanvite scholar), Sonaram Chutia (Srimanta Sankardev Award winner) and Tirtha Nath Goswami (Vaishnavite scholar).

Jayanta Madhab Dutta, a member of the project implementation committee, said they had approached families of the said padadhikars and asked them to contribute any kind of belongings of the leaders to the museum.