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'Bhaona' crosses shores: Anglicised Work Gets Massive Response

Of course, we all know 'Bhaona' as the traditional form of entertainment imbued with certain religiosity, in a neo-Vaishnavite movement. A work and creation of Sri Sri Mahapurusha Srimata Sankardeva, long back in the early sixteenth century.

As a means to convey the meaning and the appropriate way of life, and written in Assamese and Brajavali - an invention linguistic researchers say, Sankardeva needed, to connect with the Assamese masses, who did not expect the divine characters of his plays to speak in the common man’s language.


'Bhaonas' are popular in Assam, and despite the fact that the plays, the ornaments and dialogues, and steps are very particular, they live on through our xatras and namghars.

Now, after half a century, Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankardeva's exemplary art form has crossed the sea-shores and reached the foreign lands in an English avatar.



The need to connect with an audience not conversant with Assamese, not to speak of Brajavali, was the reason why three siblings from Sonitpur district’s Jamugurihat conceived the English Bhaona a couple of years ago.


The experiment has taken them to Abu Dhabi where they are set to stage two Bhaonas — Keli Gopala (‘Playful Krishna’) and Ravana Badha (‘Slaying Ravana’) — in November, this year.


“The Bhaonas would be performed by members of Prajanma Unmesh, a socio-cultural organisation, at the BRS Auditorium in Mohammed Bin Zayed City. Assam’s Department of Culture has supported our initiative to take Bhaona to the world in a language many are familiar with,” Sandhya Gitimallika Baidya said.

This attempt has received both applause and criticism, and rightly so; but the work is being defended by Saikia who says,


“Intellectual assets cannot be kept within the narrow confines of a particular language. One has to change with the times and showcase the cultural wealth to the new generation across the globe.”

Whether the move is the right way to go, may not be the ambit of this discourse, but that people all around the globe are now being make aware of the great works of our Sri Sri Sankardeva's works and that they are appreciating it makes the Assamese heart proud.


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