Bhaoriya is known as "actor" in the Assamese dialect of upper, or eastern, Assam whereas is also known as "clown" in the dialects of lower, or western Assam. The word comes from bhao, which has such connotations as role-playing as well as imitating, pretending, or masquerading. The Bhaona of Ankiya Nat also has the same etymological root, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit Bhava.
In the Kamrup District
region of lower Assam
anybody who has a flair for wit and humour, particularly one who entertains people with funny antics, is called a Bhaoriya. But true Bhaoriyas are mostly performers of traditional and folk forms, like the Dhuliya, of that region, in which clowning and witty repartees are integral to the performance. In many such troupes the virtuosity of a master Bhaoriya is the tour de force. Their fame and popularity rest largely on him. However, some Bhaoriyas have individually earned a name through their jesting, pranks, and other out-of-the-ordinary acts. In recent memory Ningni Bhaoriya of the Barpeta area was such a figure. There are many stories about him, some akin to those of Tenali Rama in south India, are popular even now. Mohan Chandra Barman of the Nalbari area, a Bhaoriya par excellence, was a living legend till date. The term Bhaoriya is also attached to some traditional performing arts. A sub-variety of Oja Pali is known as Bhaoriya Oja-Pali because it leans heavily on play-acting. Similarly, there is a folk-drama form in the south Goalpara district called Bhari-gan where bhari seems to be a corruption of bhaoriya. In the eastern Goalpara region a class of songs termed Bhaoriyar Gan also has humorous overtones.
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