Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Naw - Khel : The Annual Boat Race Of Sualkuchi 2011

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 participate
in 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 .


  1. Wow!Wonderful series of pictures
    ciao ciao

  2. Lovely pics, Kavita! No, I could not locate you in that group shot. In Hawaii, there are dragon boat races that I have never attended but will one day. However, it is very crowded and I wonder if I would be able to photograph the event with people's heads in the way. I am glad you had a great time! Cheers!

  3. Ba,Good morning.Great to read the your post Naw-Khel of Sualkuchi.Nice description & beautiful photographs.
    Nice to see people wearing " I am Anna " caps.Nice to see short video also.Thank you so much for the post.

  4. Mumbai seems too much for me, but Asam seems a place I'd like to spend some quality time. thank you for broadening our world.

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral
    > < } } ( ° >


    < ° ) } } > <

  5. Kavita, are you sure about the birth and death dates of that saint? According to those dates, he lived 137 years! Possible?

  6. Thanks Giribala, Matteo ,NRIGirl, Gigi,Rupam ,Cloudia.
    @Gigi :the wiki says so but i am looking for more info . It is believed that he lived for many years that is why he is known as a Saint ( Mahapurush).

  7. And also it is 1568 instead of 1586 .I corrected it .Thanks Gigi.

  8. Loved this post. Have read about boat races elsewhere, but then everything is so boringly predictable and orderly there. I loved reading about how the ladies suddenly ran back home to save their clothes drying on the line, and the enthusiasm of the rowers despite the unpredictable Bramhaputra. And Anna as part of the rowers uniform, and how the TV fellow actually had the time to smile back at you.....Good going !

  9. Beautiful place. It is nice to see the traditional sports still being played here with full vigor.

  10. Nice read as always..... I am convinced once again that Assam is more or less like Kerala.We too have boat races(snake boat races)in kerala.

  11. Kavita, the boat races I've heard of is from the neighbouring state kerala. Had not hear of Sualkuchi. Nice pictures and lovely post. Enjoyed reading and I felt as if I was witnessing the event live.

  12. what a wonderful event and you have done a super job in presenting it!!

    yes i could spot you in the pic, you wearing blue!

  13. Very nice pictures, certainly the ones in the street. The boats are not efficient for racing however. I am sure it was fun.


  14. I guess the subjects you pick up for posting can be commented with one jot-'!'.

    The picture of the Bhramaputra up from the hill top was wonderful. Looked like a lake than a river.

    Thanks K for another round of good work.

  15. Lovely pictures and the boat races sound fascinating. You always bring to us things not commonly known. Thanks :).

  16. I recognised you - blue dress!

    I liked the first boat with an elevated structure, nice!

    The cow and calves look so innocent. They know that no one will harm them!

    I liked the way you described about how the women ran home when the Rains came...funny, but we do that!

    The crowd is quite a big one! Anna's influence is here too! The water is really very less for even these looks like that.

    The video clip is very clear, was nice to watch, thank you, Kavita!

    The series of pictures itself show the game clearly, Kavita!

  17. a very colorful report from the celebrations!

  18. what a fun and energetic activity...

  19. beautiful

    zor laga ke hai sha
    dam laga ke hai sha ...

    I love boat races , I use to be a part of it in my college team ..


  20. Kabita bou, I simply fell in love with the first picture. What a frame you have got! Visited after a long time. When I am home, we may plan out a small outing to something interesting. THis is fun, educating and refreshing. Keep on sharing for economic refugees like me. Chao!

  21. Fascinating reading. I couldn't help but compare it with our own English Oxford versus Cambridge boat race. Not that there is any comparison really, other than that both are annual events of course.

  22. @Giribala : thanks .

    @Matteo :thanks.

    Gigi : he lived for approx 120 years and it is documented .Thanks once again :)

    NRIGirl:thanks .

    Rupam :i am glad that you enjoyed the post Rupam .Thanks.

    Cloudia : Guwahati is a big city and it too is overcrowded but fortunately it is blessed with lots of greenery .I am sure you will love visiting Assam.

    Ugich Konitari : it was like being in a family gathering .a very 'gharelu' kind of affair .Thanks for liking the post.

    Rajesh : i hope the event survives .My mother in law tells me that earlier events used to be much bigger and very well organized than this one.Thanks.

    Bhavya : yes ,even i feel the same .Even our cuisines too have many similarities .Thanks.

    Ashwini : North east is less known to other parts of India .I feel blogging is a very good medium to fill this gap between NE and the rest of India.

    Magic eye : you found me :) Thanks a lot .

    Filip : our state govt gave a big financial help to this event but the committee thinks that because of shallow water there is no use investing big money on big boats .Thanks.

  23. Kavita,

    Very nice picture and description. It was like I was there. Felt it and experienced the race with your post.

  24. Anil : i am glad that you feel that way Anil.Thanks for your constant support and encouragement.I appreciate it .Thanks.

    Sandhya : patting away the calves was a funny business .Later we left our car back at Mr. Bharali's house .The ladies running for the clothes was just too hilarious .Enjoyed every moment of the day .Thanks for your encouraging comments Sandhya.

    Rachna : happy that you find the post interesting .Means a lot coming from you .Thanks.

    Ola :thanks a lot.

    Lin : thanks a lot.

    Bikram :yeah ...zor lagake ! Thanks bhai :)

    Tituraj : yes ,we must plan a trip together when you come home this time. I do hear your brand new nephew cry at night .He is so cute . .Congratulations on being an uncle Moon .

    Petty Witter :while i uploaded my video on Ytube i think i saw a clip or two of the race you mentioned .Thanks.

    Makk : Glad that you did.Thanks.

    Amrit :Thank you so much for liking the post .

  25. very nice..quite an enlightenment..never knew about this..
    A panoramic view and good description to match that..was quite interesting..
    love the animals..remind s me of my town ..its cute.

  26. A very insightful post. I lived in Assam for about a month few years back and could not see much apart from sprawling greenery everywhere. :)

    I would like to go back there some time.


  27. You seemed to be a popular figure among crowd there I guess… and why not the pictures speak volumes …
    colorful as always

  28. During Onam, Kerala also hosts a lot of boat races. The boats are different. They are called snake boats.

  29. Wow. You travel a lot, don't you? And such lovely pictures too. I loved them. I can imagine the crowd cheering as the race started. Seems like a nice place to be. And patting away stray animals. Sigh. Too bad eid coincided. Made for a wonderul read. It's like I am traveling with you when I read your posts.. :)

  30. Very good information and good pictures too. I liked all the pictures but the best was of the plane landing. The race reminds me a lot of Kerala boat races.

  31. As usual wonderful trip of a new place.....btw i was just trying to have a look at the pics of you clearing the road from those beautiful creatures, but could not find one...:D

  32. I really love the chadder that people put on their shoulders. I always felt it would look good as a stole but in the emporium here they cost so much. In Tamil Nad also people will never go out without a kind of Chadder, but mostly it would be cotton with some line of zari in the border, you must have seen some of these South Indian politicians wearing them. But I like the Assamese style more.
    Where are you in the picture i could not find anyone looking like you?
    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

  33. Harman : thanks dear .Yes ,animals on road is a common thing across the length and breadth of India .

    Kunal : I hope that you do :)Thanks a lot .

    Deeps : Popular ...hmmm ...yes ,one can easily get popular by monkeying around with a camera in hands .lol .Thanks a lot :):)

    Nona :Kerala boat race is on my wish list .This race is not as big and organized as KBR.Thanks.

    Rama : thanks a lot .The stole /chaddar you mentioned are called Gamosa here in Assam .A Gamosa is an integral part of any event out here .If interested please do check a post on it on my "Yarn n Stitches' tab .

    Irfaanudin : heeee ,fortunately camera was on my hand so no pictures of mine and not so fortunately Chandan had video camera family is loving every moment of that clip.Thanks .

  34. Wonderful pics Kavita!!
    The place looks bustling with energy and enthusiasm...
    Nice trip you had!
    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi:)

  35. bahut sundar bolti tasveeren..
    Jiwant tasveeren dekhkar man ko bahut achha laga..
    Sundar prastuti hetu dhanyavaad..

  36. This was a most interesting post, enjoyed all the pictures. There seemed to be a lot of people there.

  37. After a lonf time to your blog... it is still the same... beautiful pics with detailed descriptions!

    Nice post!

  38. i thought boat races were only in Thrissur - Kerala. oh there's one in your place too. hmm. nice to see those pics.

    i have the same shawl that Mr Bharali is wearing over his shoulders. My student from Assam had gifted it to me. sweet gesture that was.

    someone should officially appoint you as the Brand Ambassador of Assam. you are doing a wonderful job with your travelogues. Mr Bachchan move aside.

  39. Well..nothing more to say.. Sujatha and others have already commented very nicely !!

  40. Very beautiful pictures with nice description. I always enjoy reading your post. Absolutely brilliant.

  41. Got reminded of Kerala :)

    The pictures were all wonderful kavita. Felt as if being there. The mighty Brahmaputra is being hijacked by Chinese isnt it? Sad!

    I hope these folks keep the tradition alive for many more centuries to come. Thanks for sharing this information.

  42. Good scenic feast to the eyes along with good inforamation an dcoverage of an important event .Good post .Thanks for sharing.

    आते हैं बड़े धूम से गणपति जी,
    सबके दिलों में बसते हैं गणपति जी,
    उमंग से भरा हो सबका चेहरा,
    यही है मेरी गणेश चतुर्थी की शुभकामना ! हमारी भी यही है शुभकामना आपके लिए आपके परिवार के लिए .आप की ब्लोगिया दस्तक हमारे लिए महत्वपूर्ण है .शुक्रिया !
    जन आक्रोश आर हर शू मुखरित है .शुक्रवार, २ सितम्बर २०११
    शरद यादव ने जो कहा है वह विशेषाधिकार हनन नहीं है ?
    "उम्र अब्दुल्ला उवाच :"

  43. Beautiful post, beautiful people, beautiful landscape. Everything is inviting. I am longing to visit that serene part of the country. Thank you for the colorful way of telling about the event.

  44. Beautiful. I had heard of snake-boat race of Kerala, but not of this one. Some of the pictures were breath-taking

  45. Some lovely pictures.
    Never knew about this race in Nothrern part of India.
    Its sad that woman have stopped taking part in it.

  46. it's awesome to see the event through ur photos ... every state or even community have their own celebration n its nice to know n share them ... that's the magic of blogging :)

    sorry i too couldn't locate u !!

    "Naw-khel" true it's similar to snake boat race in kerela ... easter part of india is very similar to southern india - in eating habits too !

  47. °º♫
    º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.
    Paisagens lindas de um país místico e interessante, gente alegre e bonita.
    º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.

  48. Kavita, I picked you out in that photo of men--you, on left side of crowd, right side of photo.

    You must have an engaging and enthusiastic personality, for I can 'hear' you cajoling the Peeps to pose, or move this way or that. Your photos are--well, they seem to put me right into the pictures.

    And once again, with descriptions and running dialogue you keep me and all the other peeps reading with great interest.

    I SO enjoy myself on your blog. Many thanks for taking us with you on these mini vacations.


  49. very interesting!!! have presented the whole concept and the experience in a detailed way.....

  50. Santa has left a new comment on your post "Naw - Khel : The Annual Boat Race Of Sualkuchi 20...":

    Beautiful photographs, and really well written....

  51. Arti :yes,the place was full of energy and enthusiasm.Thanks .

    Kavita Rawat : aapki tippani aur follow up ke liye bahut dnanyavad .

    Margaret Cloud :Thank you so much .

    Karan Agrawal : hey,nice to see you Karan .Thanks for coming by .

    Sujatha Sathya :it is customary in Assam to gift Gamosa to your family and friends .Smiles at Mr. Bachchan thing .Thanks.

    Vinod Arora :thanks for your kind words .

    Phivos : thanks for all the appreciation .

    Insignia :yes ,there is a lot going on over 'Dam on Bhramaputra Issue'

  52. Veerubhai : thanks a lot for your views .

    Sharmila :this event used to be much bigger previously .But we had fun anyways.The person with sun glasses is me .Thanks .

    Magia :thank you my friend .

    Steve E : you are so kind Steve .Thanks for all encouragement .

    P.N.Subramanian :i hope that you do visit NE .Thank you so much.

    Onkar :it is a lesser known boat race ,that is why i thought of sharing it.Thanks.

    Haddock:nice to see you again H .Thanks.

    Santa : sorry ,by mistake your comment got deleted so i reposted it as anonymous comment.Thanks a lot for your visit and i checked your blog .it is awesome.

  53. What a click!! Amazing blog! Glad I landed here while blog hopping! :)

  54. wow..nice pics...and i thought Manchester was the name of Faisalabad :P... thanks for sharing these wonderful themes and places which we are not able to visit on our own ...

  55. this is a new information for me , I heard about the boat race in Kerala, but this is something new and I enjoyed readying your this post.

    Thanks a lot

    बधाई !!
    कृपया मेरी नयी कविता " फूल, चाय और बारिश " को पढकर अपनी बहुमूल्य राय दिजियेंगा . लिंक है :

  56. I had a chance to visit the Kerala boat race when I was in Coimbatore, but I missed it due to my laziness. Now I feel for it! Anyways, your picture blog has inspired me to visit it sometime in the future, and I hope to.

    Destination Infinity

  57. A very informative post with beautiful photographs. Thanks.

  58. These itineraries is not really a shame not to reward, my reward for this wonderful story is a simple sentence you are brilliant! Good morning! how are you? Here's how promising the first yellow leaves of autumn fell in front of your eyes and let these my words. So as promised at the beginning of summer. so i have done. I returned again with good old friends. You like to read because of the allure of your system when it posts. And then we see here, again, more often than they do now. I wish you all the best and enjoyable weekend

  59. Splendid Narration. Wish I could take you to our boat race... Nehru trophy boat Kerala

    It is more bigger and mind blowing..

  60. I know I am late to comment here but I had read it on my reader when it was published.

    So koi gila shikwa nahi. :D

    But it is an amazing race. I particularly liked the enthusiasm of people including yours.

    It's very nice to see that Anna has reached there too.

    P.S.- I haven't uploaded pictures of Nighoj till now. Will do so very soon.

  61. woww kya baat hi..told ya..u r better than many journalists..dunno y u insist on being a surgeon..

  62. I somehow missed this post till now.

    Excellent pictures! I caught your face!

    Every time I see Assam through your lens, I am struck by the similarity between Kerala & Assam.

  63. Hey lady, it’s been a while. I hope everything is okay with you and that you had an awesome weekend! Just thought I'd stop in for a minute to say hello.

    The photos are awesome!

    Have a terrific week!

  64. Superb lovely presentation.
    Fantastic pictures and video.

    I am enchanted at your blog.
    Many many thanks to you.

    Please,find time to visit my blog also.I have followed your blog.

  65. I agree with Balan. There is a lot of Similarities between Assam and Kerala. Your posts always remind me of something familiar. :)

    Lovely Pics and a wonderful post as usual. :)

  66. Hello, nice blog you've got here, happened to come across it by chance, and loved it, now following you :D lovely pics truly...

  67. wow it feels really good to now that you belong to such a colourful country interwined with beautiful customs and such diverse people.. loved it

  68. I'm wondering if that's you just under the umbrella with the green veil? What a fun day you had!!! Thank you so much for sharing this special event with us. I'm up to my ears in stuff to do, but I just had to stop by. I'm so glad I did.

  69. Awesome...this is truly a race to follow! Your images as well as the narration were apt and informative :)

  70. its thrilling to watch this piece on photo-narrative.i could digitally get the smell of the place and the people. All because of you - how you put it up - the pace of narrative matching the life style of the people and the place.I liked the Durga puja North east pictures as well.

    You may visit my blog and enjoy a different video feel of durga puja organised far far away from the happening place east India...yea, its Ahmedabad, Gujarat waking up to drummers beat, priest's chanting and lipsucking Bengali weakness for food court menus, going hand in hand with Evening Gala Cultural Programs by newbees as well as celebrities. This time we had celebrated Lopa mudra to entrall the audience.