Bhaona: An experience
The Vaishnavite Bhauna tradition of Assam has evolved and adapted since its beginnings during the fifteenth century. One of the most written upon folk forms of Assamese culture today, the Bhauna (from the Sanskrit Bhavana meaning “display of/production”) risks being categorised as a homogeneous blanket form, However the differences in the presentation and performance of Bhaonas is subtle and hard to grasp by a layman unless he sees the different types in full action in first person. In one of my rambles among the nooks and corners of Kenduguri ,Jorhat, I got a chance to enjoy a Bhauna in progress at Charingiya Suk, No. 2 Brahmin Gaon. The Bhaona was occasioned by the reinstitution of the Manikut in the Naamghar and was based on the Bhagavata story of Bhakta Prahlad. The bar-sabah (congregation) was already hooked to the riveting tales of the sutradhar(narrator) at the time of our arrival. It took a while adjusting our eyes to the smoke and incense filled ambiance even though the age old gacha (large earthen chandeliers of multiple earthen lamps) and the ariya (torches) were overpowered by new age electric lights. The dialogues were riveting and the boy-actors (especially the ones in female roles or charitas) were both delicate and entertaining in their act. Needless to say, I was soon caught in the magic of the presentation and the innovative techniques used to produce the special effects left me very impressed. I managed to capture some moments of the humor-riddled narrative performed by the natuwas and bhaoriyas (performers), hope you have an enriching experience browsing through the same.
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