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Cultural steps to encourage island harmony

- Majuli authority organises dance workshops where participants can learn each other’s forms

Jorhat, July 6: In a move to encourage cultural exchange among different communities, the Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority is organising workshops where participants will learn each other’s dance forms.

A 10-day workshop on Mising and Deuri dances started today where youths from other communities are also taking part. Majuli sub-divisional officer (civil) Laya Madduri inaugurated the workshop at Jengraimukh College auditorium on the island.

Chief executive officer of the authority, S.I. Hussain, who is also Upper Assam commissioner, told this correspondent that it had taken up this initiative to promote and preserve the distinctive cultural identity of Majuli.

“We also decided that participants will be encouraged to learn each other’s traditional dance or music,” he said.

He hoped such workshops would not only preserve and promote the varied cultures of different communities living on the island but also foster goodwill among them.

Padmadhar Pegu, an expert on traditional Mising dance Ali-Aye Gumrag, told The Telegraph over phone today that of the 50 boys and girls who have enrolled for the dance workshop, over 15 were non-Mising youths, mostly girls.

“It is a positive step. More participants might join tomorrow or the day after. Knowing and learning each other’s culture will strengthen the relations among the groups and contribute to peace and development of the region,” Pegu, a retired professor of Jengraimukh College, said.

Dancers, both men and women, perform Gumrag to the beat of traditional dhols (drums) during Ali-Aye Lígang, a Mising festival held during the end of winter. The festival is celebrated on the first Wednesday of the Assamese month of fagun (February-March).

Pinky Saikia and Nitumoni Dutta, two HS students attending the camp, told this correspondent they were “very excited” to learn the Mising dance.

Vidyasagar Deuri, an expert on Deuri culture, said the workshop on Deuri dance forms would be held at Major Deuri Janajati Ussatar Madhyamik Vidyalay at Deurigaon in Majuli. He said the inauguration function was organised at Jengraimukh College centrally.

He said about 40 participants have enrolled for the session so far out of which about 10 were from non-Deuri communities. Deuri said traditional dance forms of Deuris like Hurairangoli, Aborbo and Yan-Degaba would be taught in the workshop.

Hussain said a workshop on xattriya culture is also being organised at the Satriya Sangeet Mahavidyalay here since Thursday and will continue till July 16. He said participants (both men and women) in two groups — children and adults — from across the state were attending the camp being conducted by experts from Majuli xatras.

The landscape authority was set up under the Majuli Cultural Landscape Region Act, 2006, with the Assam chief secretary as its chairman, the principal secretary of cultural affairs its vice-chairman and Upper Assam as its chief executive officer. Its objectives are to protect Majuli from floods and erosion and develop as well as preserve the island’s unique identity.