The shrill command of
the Gayan Bora followed by the unified sounds of Doba, Kanh, Bhortal & Khol will
once again resonate amidst the audience to signal the start of the Barechaharia
Bhaowna. This tradition will once again be reaffirmed and the festival dating
back to two centuries will liven up the small town of Jamuguri.
History has it that Barechaharia Bhaowna has
traversed a long way of 213 years since its inception in 1797 AD at Jamuguri.
The convergence of religion and culture has given this festival the strong
fabric to survive the forces of time while retaining its enduring and
mesmerizing quality of storytelling.
Normally the Bhaowna is a dramatization of stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata,
Puranas etc in a different style created by the Mahapurush Sankardev, the great
vaishnavite saint, philosopher, reformer, poet, writer, dramatist etc. depicted
with Bhakti Rasa in the form of different Raga & Tala. The main target of the
saint was to unite the then diverse society with the spirit of entertainment and
also to attract towards the vaishnavism preached by Him. The traditional Bhaowna
is held in a Namghar, the traditional prayer house of a village unit called Khel
and also in Sattras, a monastery like institution to promote the Sankari
culture, founded by Sankardev.
In the traditional Bhaowna there is always a group of musicians comprising Gayan
& Bayan that is singer and drummer who begin the orchestra (Jora) in Sankari
style followed by the entry of Sutradhar who recites slokas and narrates the
entire story of the drama to be performed. The Director, here is known as
Gayanbora commands other performers to make entry into their own stage. Nam
prasanga means kirtana also is an integral part of the Bhaona. Brajabuli is used
to script the dialogues.
The concept of Barechaharia Bhaona is derived from the traditional Bhaona and in
this festival, unlike other Bhaona it is performed by several teams. The Bhaona
is performed simultaneously by teams from the different villages of the region
on several stages by the holy altar in the center. It is of great pride to say
that only materials used is the locally abundant bamboo, thatch, cane etc. with
help from community workers from the locality. The unique design, the
rudimentary materials used and the organization of labour may at first seem
unfit for such a beautiful creation; however, it is something to sense and all
of a sudden standing under the pandal which can fit 30,000 makes one think about
the magnanimity of human motivation and dedication.
It can be said without doubt that people who pour in from various corners of the
region reaches several lakhs over the span of the Barechaharia Bhaona. The sea
of population that surrounds the Bhaona pandal every day are of different caste,
creed & community and the palpable sense of culture all around binds each and
every one of them into one single thread of human kind.
We hope the modern technology applied to print and audio-visual media can do a
lot for appraisal of this rare cultural show across the globe.