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Festival to promote ornaments, masks

Jorhat, Nov. 26: The 12th edition of Assam Mahotsav to be held at Jorhat District Sports Association ground from December 5 to 18 will promote the traditional art of mukha (mask) making, which is part of the Vaishnavite traditional theatre or mukha bhaona.

The mahotsav has been organised by Intandem, a socio-cultural organisation, for the past 11 years to promote local entrepreneurs dealing with indigenous products of different communities of the state.

The secretary of the organising committee of Intandem, Dilip Bordoloi, told reporters here today that apart from regular handloom and handicrafts stalls displaying products of the region,workshops on traditional Assamese ornaments and mask-making will be organised from the second day till the last day of the fair.

He said the decision to hold workshops was taken to popularise “traditional” designs of Assamese ornaments among the present generation.

Similarly, mask-making is a traditional art linked to bhaonas started by the Vaishnavite saint, philosopher and social reformer, Srimanta Sankardev. Mukha or mask is an important part of Mukha bhaona, a musical dance drama. It helps to make the play attractive and expressive, he added.

Sampriti, an organisation involved in promotion and preservation of Assamese art and culture, will organise the workshops for interested participants.

Bordoloi said the main entrance gate of the fair will be set up by incorporating various designs of Assamese ornaments.

Sampriti’s secretary, Bikash Jyoti Mahanta, told this correspondent that the workshop on traditional Assamese ornaments will teach the participants to make the ornaments from ordinary paper. He said of late making artificial Assamese ornaments from paper by imitating the original gold ones was receiving positive response.

He said Amlan Jyoti Mahanta of Jalukanibari in the district, who has developed the art of making Assamese imitation jewellery from paper, will conduct the workshop on ornaments.

He said ornaments made by Amlan Jyoti by colouring paper and using artificial stones, have been getting a good response. The art could be a source of self-employment venture and promote traditional designs, he added.

He said Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Hem Chandra Goswami of Samuguri Xatra in Majuli will conductthe workshop on mask-making. The masks are made from locally available materials like bamboo, cane, cloth, clay and vegetable dyes. He said the art, which is on the wane, could be revived if youths take it up as a source of income.

A pond with fishes, fishing nets and tools, farming tools and oxen will be displayed at the fair to create a rural atmosphere, Bordoloi said.