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Pratibha Brahma
Date of Publish: 2017-04-06

A cultural evening to remember rich contributions of a music maestro and other pioneers of Bodo cultural awakening movement

Versatile singing of Jwhwlao Nileswar Brahma gained immense popularity and he became the face of “Onsai Afad” which was formed in the year 1949. The music maestro for the first time recorded his melodious songs in Bodo in the Gramophone Record Company of Colombia known with brand name of His Master’s Voice (HMV) in 1951. Bodo public then became ecstatic listening to his melodious renditions of songs like ‘Awi Bibwnang Godai……..Agwi Mwnbari Bibari, Bifangaou Bana Bikha Khujab Khujab Sugugu Jugugu Daothu Gabdwng,Honwi Suna Sunjaha Swrangbwgaou' and many other compositions and he became a sort of cult figure in cultural awakening amongst the Bodos.

popular songs of Nileswar Brahma

This fact was shared by Tikendrajit Narzary,a veteran artist in a programme of eventful Cultural Evening organized during the grand celebration of Golden Jubilee of All Bodo Students Union on February 14 at Jankhritai Pwthar, Kokrajar. In reciprocation of his well recognised and eloquent voice, an overwhelmed audience got excited to capture glimpse of Jaulakho Bwrai and other popular artistes of yesteryear after their long gap from public domain on stage and thunderous claps ruptured in the air.

Luminaries from the creative field who rose to immense popularity amongst the Bodos were invited as guests in this heart-warming interaction programme and it indeed, became one of the highlights of the celebration! It was anchored by Urkhao Gwra Brahma, former member of parliament (MP), Rajya Sabha and an acclaimed writer himself. Artistes participating in this talk-show were none other than Charan Narzary, former Lok Sabha MP and Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) leader of yesteryear, Tikendrajit Narzary popularly known as “Jaulakho”, the memorable character he played in the first Bodo feature film ‘Alayaron’, Dr.Anil Kumar Boro, Janil Kr.Brahma both imminent Scholar and Writer and many other artistes and intellectuals from diverse fields.

UG Brahma with Charan Narzary at his residence

The programme was organised with the objective of connecting veteran artists and senior writers of imminence with young viewers so that youngsters could avail scope to gather knowledge about the rich culture of Bodos. Interestingly, despite big crowd, audience listened with rapt attention when U.G. Brahma with many of his queries enthused both Charan Narzary and Tikendrajit Narzary to reminisce the era of ups and down in their artistic life and they laid bare many of the revelations heightening the curiosity of audience to know more.

It was stated by them that Prasenjit Brahma (Son of Rupnath Brahma) was the central figure in initiating the formation of ‘Onsai Afad’ which was later on renamed as ‘Bithorai Afad’. In the wake of socio-political awakening amongst the Bodo leaders after India attained independence, strong assertion and movement for literary development of Bodo language created an atmosphere of enthusiasm to inspire towards cultural awakening simultaneously. “Rongjasali”, then the only famous auditorium existing in Kokrajhar became the centre of cultural movement through exhibition of various shows pertaining to Bodo culture. Bodo art and paintings, songs, music, dance, drama and theatrical plays were exhibited by artists with renewed vigour in Rangjashali Hall.

Charan Narzary, who later on became a prominent tribal leader of Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) also took active role in this movement during his youthful days and appraised the audients that he played the role of “David Scot”, a British Official in one of the dramas.

In same tune, Tikendrajit Narzary, who gained his popularity in the character role he depicted as ‘Jaulakho’ in Alayaron Movie, was already a seasoned artiste playing diverse roles in famous theatrical plays like ‘Mimangni Simang’, ‘Horbadi Khwmsi’ etc prior to his involvement as an actor in Bodo feature films released later on. He beamed with joy to share his journey of life as an artiste and how through their numerous theatrical Plays, they inspired the public with strong messages of social issues.

Dr. Anil Kumar Boro also enlightened and captivated the attention of audients with his deliberations on different phases of cultural development of the Bodos till date.

During discussion, point emphasized and agreed upon by all participants was the pioneering role played by Prasenjit Brahma, Lalit Kala Ratna Sobha Brahma, Jwhwlao Nileswar Brahma and Samar Brahma Choudhury in leading the newly awakened cultural movement to preserve continuity of the rich cultural heritage of Bodos. Their friends and admirers nicknamed them as Praji, Somho, Nila and Saben respectively. They cherished fond dreams and tried to popularize Bodo songs, dances and plays to keep at par with other communities. Though Onsai Afad was formed at Dhubri, it functioned mainly from the residence of Prasenjit Brahma in Kokrajhar. They were behind the scene for rendition of scintillating songs that were aired from the All India Radio(AIR),Kolkata. An Assamese song written by Samar Brahma Choudhury “Nai Nai Mor Priyo Je Nai” sung by Nileswar Brahma was also aired by AIR, Guwahati. They were together involved in recording numbers of melodies in Bodo which were rendered by Nileswar Brahma in the Gramophone Record Company of HMV. Jogendra Kumar Brahma, Phani Mohon Brahma and many other artistes were their contemporaries who put their heart and soul in this movement. Hence, they left behind indelible imprints of their contribution to enrich Bodo culture through their talents and struggle in the creative field. Enlightened by Tikendrajit’s narration of the catalytic role Prasenjit played in this movement, it was felt that he is yet to get due recognition for his contributions to Bodo society.

In continuation of the interaction, Kamal Kumar Brahma’s name got prominence with the mention that he stands second to none in the genre of writing Bodo dramas. Tikendrajit Narzary got nostalgic and exclaimed, “Who can forget Gwdan Phwisali (The New Horizon),Raja Iraqdao (King Iraqdao),Har Baidi Khwsi (Dark like the Night),Mimangni Simang (The Dreams of Mimang)?. The whole community swelled with the national feelings and thoughts inspired by social messages portrayed in the plays and in process gave a new dimension to socio-cultural and educational progress of Bodos.”

It was at this point of time, host of the show U.G.Brahma, opined and later on relayed to me that had this programme been organized ten years before, veteran artistes could have shared their vast experiences and disseminated rich knowledge to new generation. Differences in political ideologies and principles distanced leaders in later years of their life. Apart from this, many of them have departed from this world for their heavenly abode. He regretted that Renu Boro, a veteran Bodo women leader and writer from Barama and Dharanidhar Wary from Govardhana, Baksa could not be present in the august occasion due to their failing health. He made an observation that the contributions of Ustad Kamini Narzary, the winner of Sangeet Natak Academy from Assam, Chandra Kanta Basumatary the owner of Swrang Manju Theatre and many other iconic figures who have struggled hard and made their mark in difficult arena of creative fields is immeasurable and commands respect and due recognition from the society. It is responsibility of one and all to pay tributes for their selfless services. Some of these artistes are still living but it is unfortunate that new generation has severed their ties with them and they have been forsaken to spend last days of their lives in oblivion.

It is bitter truth that creative field of the Bodos is today facing crisis due to global impact and influence of cultural invasion from various quarters. New generations are also tempted to bend towards materialism and commercialization which has thereby instilled adverse impact in young minds to divert from originality in name of modernism putting question mark in preserving the very root of identity and unique tradition of Bodo culture. Bridging gap and making synthesis of old and new style ought to be oriented with holistic vision of keeping intact the originality in preserving our culture with continuity.

UG Brahma with Tikendrajit Narzary at his residence

Facing reality of the situation with strong reason, when Tikendrajit was asked to give opinion aboutthe status of Rangjashali Hall which was physically dismantled with the declaration by ruling dispensation of Bodoland Territorial Council to establish an infrastructure of multistoried building for some other purpose, he reiterated, “Rongjashali” should be re-built again and preserved as the “Heritage Centre of Bodo Culture”.

Opinions of participants in the interactive session of talk show generated lot of interest till the end. Janil Kr.Brahma, an eloquent writer and speaker enthralled the audience with interesting anecdotes he came across in his career as a writer.

Then at the spur of emotional moment he burst out the famous folk song,

‘Parbatjhora, Parbatjhora Raijwao dongfang dannw thangwbla,

(If you set your feet to Parbotjhora for cutting trees)

Sal jora makhu jora labw,labw Ada Laru Bandaru.

(Bring me a pair of shuttle made of sal tree dear Laru Bandaru)

Parbatjhora,Parbatjhora Hagraao dongfang dannw thangwbla,

(If I go to Parbotjhora forest to cut trees)

Sal jora makhu jora de labwgwn agwi Goisiri Mainao.’

(I will fetch you a pair of shuttle my beloved Goisiri Mainao)

The audience could not ask for more and concluded the enriched cultural evening with huge round of applause.

Pratibha Brahma

( Pratibha Brahma is the Editor-in-chief of Bibungthi-the opinion, a quarterly English magazine published from Kokrajhar. She can be contacted at pratibha.brahma@rediffmail.com. The views expressed are the author's own. )

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