Apart from it's silk Sualkuchi (also known as The Manchester Of The East ) is also popular for its annual boat festival.Sualkuchi is among the places where this indigenous sport still survives.This race is organized to commemorate the death anniversary of Srimanta Sankardev ( 1449 -1568) .He was a scholar -saint and a great social-religious reformer. Srimanta Sankardev is considered as a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam.In the year 1965 a rowing competition committee was formed not only to revive this old age tradition but also to strengthen the harmony ,unity and integrity amongst the people belonging to different cast and communities of the area. Both Hindus and Muslims participatein it with equal enthusiasm.
|A View Of Mighty Bhramaputra From Babaji Parbat Gondmow Assam Tourism Cottages Sualkuchi|
We had planned for this in advance .Tuesday is a working day for us so to adjust the work load we worked overtime for the past few days.I had contacted Kishore Bharali a young energetic and extremely helpful member of the organizing committee through a cell number provided by the regional language newspaper .He told me that the race would start at around 2 in the afternoon.He asked me to give him a call once i reach Sualkuchi.Our destination was just an hour away from Guwahati. As we started early from Guwahati ,we had some time in our hand to visit this hilltop named Gondmow ,a tourist spot just three kms before Sualkuchi.The view from the hilltop was a pleasant surprise .Later at Sualkutchi we came to know that very few people know about it .
|Saraighat Bridge Guwahati : A View From Gondhmow Cottages Sualkutch|
The day was probably one of the most hottest day of the year .The Sun was too bright so we had a very clear view of Saraighat Bridge .We left the place after ten to fifteen minutes .
The lanes of Sualkutchi are very narrow and are often used more by pets than by the people.
I walked most of the road while Chandan drove very slowly .It was my job to clear the road by patting away these beautiful creatures .I missed my kids ,they would have loved to help me.
Kishore gave us directions through the phone .After initial greetings he took us to the house of this wonderful couple Mr .Hemchandra Bharali and Mrs Dipali Bharali . Mr . Bharali had served for Govt as an Asst . Director Of Sports and Youth Welfare Dept .He is the key member of the race committee .He told us a lot about this race .What i understood from him was that the idea of this race is based on the principles of Sankardeva who was a great social reformer. All the existing communities/tribes have different festivals of their own to observe. This race is a common event that can be enjoyed by all the people irrespective of their caste ,community and tribe .Because this year Eid fell on the same day as Sankar Dev Tithi there was no participation from Muslim community .Number of participating boats were very less this year because of that.
Women used to participate the event before but not anymore because of lack of interest .How sad. According to Mr. Bharali another worrying and alarming reason of less participation was the changing level of the depth and banks of Bhramaputra river . For the last few years the water has been shallow and not enough for using bigger boats he said.After some nice refreshment offered by Bharalis we joined this procession which lead towards the venue . Can you locate me ?
All of them sang Naam ( devotional songs ). I have got great video clips that i will upload on You tube and update the link to this post at a later time.
The chief guest a high official of State Bank Of India ( a co sponsor of the event) opened the event.
The venue , the banks of the river Bhramaputra was packed with the spectators as well as the participants.We saw TV Crew of some of our popular regional TV channels .
This is cameraman Manab from NE Tv news channel. He was busy adjusting his camera but spared a moment to smile for my picture.
Colorful audience .
Anna influence was noticeable here (my non Indian friends might not know about Anna ,they can check the link if interested ) . Many of the participants wore Main Anna Hun (I am Anna )Caps .
Each boat had either a coconut or some fruit plus incense sticks lighted on their boats.
On the left side the committee was having a tough time hoisting the event flag because of a sudden occurrence of strong wind.The wind was so fierce that it caused big ripples on river water and my camera too fell of my hands. The volunteers tried their best to retain the tent but that too finally fell .
We saw women running back to their houses ,the reason was to collect the washed clothes from clothesline . But soon they joined back .
Boats started taking positions .There were several rounds of race.The wind was not favoring the event but the participants were least bothered.
The cheerful crowd roared every time a new rounds started .
I no longer took pictures .Here is a video clip for you to see one of the round.The clip takes little time to appear on the post .
After spending more than two hours we decided to head back to Guwahati so as to avoid the expected traffic jam once the event was over. We had such a great time there .
One final shot from the venue of this plane which was about to land at Guwahati airport .