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RaasLeela in Majuli

08 Nov,2022 01:49 PM, by: Anushthatri Sharma
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Majuli is the largest inhabited river island in the world and is also the first island district of the country. Majuli has been the cultural hub and the cradle of Assamese civilization for more than 550 years. Majuli with its sublime and serene atmosphere provided the proper backdrop for the historic “Moni-Kanchan Sanyog” between Assam’s great saint, poet, litterateur, and social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva and his famous disciple Madhabdeva in the 15th century. Ever since that meeting of the great minds and the subsequent establishment of Satra, Majuli emerged as the crowning glory of the Vaishnavite culture of Assam.

For several centuries, the people of Majuli have enacted Lord Krishna's RaasLeela in order to express their gratitude and respect for him. During the Raas festival, Majuli becomes a veritable place for pilgrimage. Locally made masks are one of the major features of dance dramas and represent various mythological creatures. The festival and celebrations continue for four days. Cultural performances combined with local traditions are a specialty of this festival. Exhibitions form an important part of this festival with displays that immensely reflect the rich tradition of the state.

 RaasLeela

RaasLeela is the story of the life of Lord Krishna presented in the form of performing art. The event of RaasLeela as mentioned in the ‘BhagawatPurana’ depicts a blissful story with Bhakti Rasa. Here Lord Krishna plays the lead in divine form, who is accompanied by the Gopis of Gokul. The RaasLeela is classified mainly into nine Bhakti Raas and NatyaRaas, out of which Bhakti Raas assumes much significance. It begins with the birth of Lord Krishna, his upbringing at the house of King Nanda, his tending the cows at Gokula along with his fellow cowherds, his childhood activities, his killing of the demons like Bakasura, Aghasur, Pralambasur, Dhenukasur, Chakrabat, Putana, Kaliya and of Kansa - his maternal uncle, at various times of his youth and on various other occasions, and finally his amorous play with the Gopis. The performance of RaasLeela involves various musical instruments, masks, paintings, music, dance, and artifacts. RaasLeela is an annual festival performed on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of October-November (Kati-Aghun) during the autumn season. During this festival, Majuli draws a large number of disciples, devotees, and tourists from across the globe.

 History

According to folklore, Dakhinpat Satra’s 10th Satradhikar Basudev Goswami got a divine order in his dreams to hold Sri Krishna RaasLeela in the Satra to save the Satra from erosion. Following that order, Basudev Goswami wrote a play on Lord Krishna’s life and began holding acts based on that play.

RaasLeela was finally introduced as a stage performance by Sri PitambardevaGoswami, ex-Satradhikar and social reformer of GaramurSatra in the year 1934.

This festival has a great impact on the life and the culture of the people of Majuli. The performance lasts for four to five days at a stretch, wherein lakhs of outsiders visit the island, and enjoy the hospitality of the island district. Though it is a part of the culture of the Satras, the RaasLeela is performed in many other villages of Assam.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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