The myth of Assamese Bihu dance and Dhol (drum).


Bihu festival and the Bihu dance were completely separate for a section of Assamese people. But the scenario of Assam is giving us many information of Bihu celebrations of various ethnic groups where the dance known as Bihu dance is intermingled with Bihu festival.Now Bohag Bihu is not a mere festival, it is not a season, not a month of Assamese calendar, it is the life line of Assamese race and the courage of broad Assamese masses.

THE MYTH OF ASSAMESE BIHU DANCE AND DHOL (DRUM).
Deepak Bhuyan.

The six month period between Maker Sankranti and Karak Sankranti, 14th Jan to 14th July , when the sun travels towards the north on the celestial sphere ( as seen from our earth) is treated as Uttarayana. The period from 14th July to 14th Jan is known as Dakshinayana. The starting of Uttarayana is celebrated as Makar Sankrnti treating as national festival in India.In Assam it is known as Magh Bihu. During the period of Uttarayana (14th Jan to 14th July)another great festival Rangali Bihu is also celebrated (14th and 15th April)by the people of Assam. Though there is more other factors of Rangali Bihu celebration but in short the reason of Assamese Rangali Bihu celebration has a socio-religious foundation relating to the said Uttarayana period. In this writing the revelation of the relation of Bihu with Bihu dance and Dhol is sought to be outlined. Rangali Bihu which is celebrated depending on the movement of Sun in the celestial sphere is not related with Bihu dance and so a particular section of Assamese people were not accustomed with Bihu dance. They recognized the Bihu dance as uncultured and practice of rustic fellows. The negligence showed by the elite Assamese class in case of Bihu dance and songs was quite apparent up to the last decades of 18th century. But in the middle period of 19th century some persons belong to the same elite class established the Bihu dance and songs in the main stream of Assamese culture eliminating the vulgarly characteristics of Bihu dance and songs. It is true that the origin Bihu dance and songs carried some explicit reference to sex and bodily functions which were not acceptable for the then decent Assamese society. But after being purified the Bihu dance and songs has got affiliation of the elite class and stated its journey of victory among the people of Assam as well as in the Globe. The question how and when the Bihu dance has emerged with Bihu festival and what is the reason of such emergence, carries a myth as an answer.

Assam is a land of various ethnic groups and culture. So in the myths relating to Bihu festival and Dance we observe some differences. But the myth which has been accepted by the major part of the people is to be taken as granted. In this context it must be noted that during the rule of Ahom King the Bihu dance was popular from present Sadiya to Nowgoan district only. It means that the other parts of Assam were quite untouched with the presently popular Bihu dance of Assam. The popularity of Bihu dance is seen from the last part of 19th century.
Modern scholars opine that Lord Shiva is treated as imaginary deity of common people whose wife is known as Goddess Parvati. We have many legends of said pair of God and Goddess with some similarities and dissimilarities among the ethnic groups of Assam. On the other hand the stories which have been depicted by myths contradict with the Hindu scriptures. However the myth related to Bihu dance has been accepted by the people of different cultural make ups of our state generations after generations.
It must be pointed out again that the Bihu which is celebrated depending on the movement of Sun (Makar Sankranti) is not related with the Bihu dance of Assam. We have no any information of such dances in the rest of our country which has direct relation with Makar Sankranti. The Bihu festival and the Bihu dance were completely separate for a section of people as mentioned above. But the scenario of Assam is giving us information of Bihu celebrations of various ethnic groups where the dance known as Bihu dance is intermingled with Bihu festival. To understand the relation of Bihu and Bihu dance we shall have to support a myth relating to it. The myth is still believed by the people of this country and in various expressions of Bihu songs we get the information as expressed in the myth.
Lord Shiva is known as Nataraja. Many people believe that Nataraja is the first drummer of our universe and also the inventor of the drum. According to a Mongolian myth it is believed that once the daughter of Brahma (the creator) Kalimati, Seuti and Malati begged permission from Lord Shiva to drink human blood. But regretting their plea Lord Shiva instructed them to left for lower part of the country where the human population was almost vacated. When Kalimati and her sisters were advancing by boat for the lower part of the country as ordered by Lord Shiva they putted off their apparels and started nude dancing on the moving boat. Watching their nude dancing some fairies were also came and joined them. The whole environment became erotic and in the amorous ecstasy deities whistled in gaiety. As a result of their dance, new leaves of tree covered all the trees which were almost in a faded state and whole environment became grainy. After all the nude dance of Kalimati and others has given a new birth and a new sensation to the plant kingdom and to the whole environment. Dance continued in the high pitch of merriment.
In the mean time Doyang Dew or Dhankaliya had arrived there and asked Kalimati regarding their nude dance. Kalimati replied that they are dancing Bihu dance which they want to teach the farmers for their benefit as well as for the benefit of deities. This dance form will increase the fertility of corps which will increase the productivity and on the other hand it will be an elixir to the farmers. Observing the changing scenario Dhankaliya or Doyang Dew said that there should be some other instruments to complete the whole dance form. Then he said about Dhol (Drum), Pepa(Horn) for male performers ,Taka and Gagana for lady performers of Bihu dance. He also took the responsibility of making the said instruments. Having finalized the proposal they did as decided.

This is the myth of Bihu dance and the creation story of Dhol, Pepa, Taka and Gagana. Depending on the said myth the Ahom community of Assam believes Dhankaliya or Doyang Dew who is known as Bor Yash too, as the deity of Bihu and Bihu dance. The name of Dhankaliya or Doyang Dew is widely mentioned in the Bihu songs and he is worshiped as a deity of Bihu dancetii today. In course of time the Assamese elite class which kept themselves aside from the Bihu dance culture has welcomed the Bihu dance as an unavoidable asset of Assamese culture. The acceptance of Bihu dance as an unavoidable part of Rangali Bihu by the said class is seen from the last part of 19th century. But still a section of people believe the Indian philosophical foundation of Uttarayana in case of the Bihu celebration exterminating other expressions. However for the sake of unity and integrity no person gets back to recognize the Bihu dance as a splendid folk dance of Assam. Everyone believes this dance as a dance of unison which has been enriching the Bohag Bihu. Now Bohag Bihu is not a mere festival, it is not a season, not a month of Assamese calendar, it is the life line of Assamese race and the courage of broad Assamese masses.


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