Deul Mahutshab Holi: A fusion of culture and tradition in Barpeta Satra

Barpeta,Prangan Duarah: The vibrant Barpeta reverberates with the chants of the Holigeet, the folk songs, like “Aaji khele holi range brindabane gopa gopi sabe nache phakuranande”. So much energy can be seen amongst the people of Barpeta during Holi. Being “Satra-Nagari” of Assam, a fusion of cultures and traditions can be witnessed here during Holi. In Barpeta, it is called “deulmahutshab” or “fakuwa”. According to Assamese calendar, Holi is celebrated in Assamese month “Phagun” and “Chot”, when spring comes and the world is filled with so many beautiful things like green leaves, blooming flowers, the gentle fragrance of flowers etc. A unique four days or five days Holi, which is known as “Deka Doul” and three days Holi, which is known as “Burha-Doul” is celebrated in Barpeta. According to Assamese calendar three days “Burha-doul” is held in the month of Chot Purnima”, generally full moon in the 2nd half of March and four or five days “Deka doul” is held in the month of “ Phagun Purnima”, generally full moon in the 1st half of March.


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It seems that Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev, the great Vaishnavite saint and reformer of Assamese culture and society introduce the concept of Holi and then it became a part of Assamese society. The celebration of Holi is related to the lord Krishna. “Gandha” or “Banhutsava” is the first day of Doul-Mahutshab. On that day meji, a structure made of nal, khagari and ekara, is burn in the front of Satra. That evening Mahaprabhu Doul Govinda and Kalia Thakur are brought out from manikutghar to matharchotal with gayanbaan. Mahaprabhu and Doul govinda is then brought near the meji followed by gayan-bayan, the playing of the traditional precussion instrument accompanied by the big cymbal by the singer and musician duo in a group. Mahaprabhu takes seven rounds around the Meji. It is called “meji puoa” or “maghpuoa”. Atachbaji, the firework which is locally made, is one of the main attractions of that evening. After mejipuraMahaprabhu was brought back to Jagmohanghar. The second day of this festival is known as “Bhar doul”. “Naam-prashana”, “ojaplai”, “Gayan-bayan” and “Dhuliya-Nitriya” are the main attractions of that day. Festivities in the following days revolve around the story of Krishna and his two wives, Lakshmi and Ghunucha. According to the story, Krishna was already married to Lakshmi when he also promised to marry Ghunucha, the daughter of Indradinna. Lakhami discovered his visit to Ghunucha. After discovering that, the kingdom of Indradinna was destroyed by Lakshmi in her anger and reprimanded Krishna when he returned home after his dalliance with Ghunucha. Krishna sought forgiveness.

“Phakuwa or suweri” is the last day of doul-mahutshav. In this auspicious day Mahaprabhu and kaliyathakur are seated on a beautiful dola. When Mahaprabhugosain reaches from Baradisatra, devotes bring three Mahaprabhu to kanarasatra with a view to having heketa. During this yatraholi-geet spreads all over the Barpeta. Crowds of people gathered there to accompany their Mahaprabhu. They throw “faku”, the powder color, water etc to each other. Holi-geet, dancing and the traditional beats of dhol add to the gaiety of the occasion. At the end of the yatra when Mahaprabhu returns from “KanaraSatra” he is prevented by devotes with four bamboos in front of kritanghar as he is not permitted by Lakshmi to come in after returning from the ghunusha’s house. After breaking these three bamboos, which are divided among three haties-two bamboos for uttarhati and one bamboo each for “dakhinhati” and “nahati”, Mahaprabhu walks around kirtanghar seven times after breaking these four bamboos. Lord Krishna has to give Rs. 300 to admit into kritanghar as he is defeated by Lakshmi. And in this way, this auspicious festival of joy and color comes to an end.