Guwahati: With all enthusiasm, the Raas festival in different parts of Assam has begun today. The Raas-lila is an annual festival performed on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of October-November.
The raas festival is most popular in Nalbari, Majuli, Jorhat, Barpeta, Nagaon etc. among other places.
This Year BJP MP and renowned actress Hema Malini will visit the Raas celebration in the famous Hari Mandir of Nalbari. This was shared by the secretary of the temple management committee, Nagen Das.
This year’s celebrations in the Hari Mandir complex will start on November 7th evening. It will be a 13-day mega event with a variety of events on the cards. The organizers say that this year’s celebration will be one of the most spectacular celebrations of the Northeast Region. Apart from the regular presentation of the life of Lord Krishna and the stories from the Mahabharata using idols, there will be several other cultural presentations.
Starting in the year 1933, this will be the 89th celebration of this annual festival. Apart from the local artists, guest artists from several other states will also come and perform during the festival at the temple complex. This includes teams from Gujarat as well.
The visitors will be able to enjoy the presentations of Raas in the traditional way at this event. They will also be able to try a wide variety of local and other cuisines, especially street food. There will also be a Mina Bazar wherein visitors will be able to buy a variety of products and gifts. The celebration also includes a book fair for all the reading enthusiasts of the region.
In Majuli, the festival will be celebrated with much fervor in satras and different organizations will celebrate the festival in different places of Majuli too.
Satra disciples will also organize the raas festival at Auniati, Dakhinpat Satra, Kamalabari Satra.
’ Raas Leela’ is a spiritual function and the original story is taken from the ‘Bhagawat Purana’. Our Neo Vaishnavite spiritual leader Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev had brought down the story from ‘Bhagawat Purana’ and on the basis of the narration in the Purana he composed a poetic chapter in his religious book the ” Kirtana”. He also composed an Ankiya Drama the “Keligopal” which is the foundation of ‘ Raas Leela’ in Assam. Sankadeva incorporated spiritual under current and philosophical ideas in the drama. Apparently the theme of Keligopal seems to be an erotic expression but it is infused with the spirit of devotion to Lord Krishna. Its ultimate message was to surrender ourselves from the bondage of ‘Maya’ for salvation. The activities of Lord Krishna from childhood to adolescence depicted in Keligopal, significantly express the meaning of control over sensual pleasure and to engage our soul will merge with the super soul of the universe (merging of Atma with Paramatma).
During these 4 days, the story of Lord Krishna is presented in art form. It starts with Lord Krishna’s birth in Gokul, in spite of his cruel uncle Kansa’s determination to kill all the children of her mother Daivaki. The popular stories covered in these art form includes Krishna’s childhood in Gokul with his friends, fighting with mysterious demons like Bakasura, Putana, Kaliya, etc. and finally killing his uncle Kansa. During these 4 days, the whole of Majuli can be considered virtually a part of the RAAS LEELA.
Various wooden masks used during this festival is of prime attraction in Majuli. The artists begin their work on making creative masks and wooden props more than a month in advance. A couple of weeks before the festival, masks are colored and dried in sun. It is a unique experience to witness giant wooden structure acting as a serpent to flying bird trying to swallow a human.
From small kids dressing as Kanha – Krishna as a kid to grown adults, everyone takes part in RAAS Utsav, Majuli. Men are seen wearing costumes of ladies in Namgharh (community prayer hall) while performing various arts in RAAS. RAAS Leela performance includes various art forms like dance, various musical instruments inducing KHOL, TAAL & DOBA, songs related to Krishna, usage of masks and other artifacts. The plays during RAAS festival in Majuli are communicated in Brajabali language, a mixture of five Indian languages – Sanskrit, Hindi, Assamese , Bengali & Maithili.