History of Barechahariya Bhaona
Barechahariya Bhaona is 200-year old unique drama festival in Assam. This festival was held every 5 to 6 years at Jamugurihat, a small town in Sonitpur District of Assam. The festival was first held in 1797-1798, when the Mughal Empire in India lost its importance and the British Empire in India established its royal seat with the hands of British East India Company.
Beginning of Barechahariya Bhaona
The piercing command of the Gayan Bora followed by the unified sounds of Doba, Kanh, Bhortal and Khol reverberate amidst the audience to signal the start of the Barechaharia Bhaowna. This tradition is once again reaffirmed and the festival of Barechahariya Bhaona dating back to two centuries livens up the small town of Jamugurihat in Sonitpur District of Assam.
Importance of Barechahariya Bhaona
The convergence of religion and culture in Barechahariya Bhaona has given this festival the strong fabric to survive the forces of time while retaining its enduring and mesmerizing quality of storytelling.
Bhaowna in Barechahariya Bhaona
Normally the Bhaowna is a dramatization of stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas etc. in a different style created by the Sankardeva, the great Vaishnavite saint, philosopher, reformer, poet, writer, dramatist. Srimanta Sankardeva depicted with Bhakti Rasa in the form of different Raga and Tala. The main aim of Sankardeva was to unite the then diverse society with the spirit of entertainment and also to attract towards The Vaishnavism was 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 Sankardeva. In the traditional Bhaowna there is always a group of musicians comprising Gayan and Bayan that is singer and drummer who begin the orchestra in "Sankari" style followed by the entry of Sutradhar who recites "shlokas" and narrates the entire story of the drama or Bhaona to be performed.
Dean of Barechahariya Bhaona
There is dean, which is known as "Gayanbora". The dean commands other performers to make entry into their own stage. It is also an integral part of the Bhaona. "Brajabuli" is used to script the dialogues.
Concepts of Barechahariya Bhaona
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 centre.