More than five centuries after saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva created Assamese Bhaona, a dramatic form of entertainment to convey spiritualism in the Vaishnav mold, the Congress in Assam has tweaked it for a political statement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.
Assamese Bhaona Analysis
- The political Bhaonauses music and the Brajavali language that Sankaradeva developed, and his disciples popularised from the Vaishnav monasteries.
- The CAA, which seeks to protect non-Muslims who entered India from three neighboring countries till December 31, 2014, is in conflict with the Assam Accord.
- The Accord, signed in 1985 by the Rajiv Gandhi government, prescribes the detection and deportation of all immigrants, irrespective of faith, who entered Assam after midnight of March 24, 1971.
Bhaona Of Assam
- Entertainment played a major role in the neo-Vaishnavite movement that Sankardeva started in Assam.
- He wrote his prose in Sanskrit but used Assamese and Brajavali to develop Borgeet, a new form of spiritual music, and Bhaona, a mythology-based theatrical performance, and monastic dances that evolved into the classical Sattriya.
- Linguistic researchers say Sankardeva needed to connect with his Assamese masses, who did not expect the divine characters of his plays to speak in the common man’s language. So he created the Brajavali, a literary language limited to theatrical usage.
- A Bhaona, involving dialogues, songs, and dances by performers in costumes and ornaments, usually involves 40-50 people, including those playing heavy drums and cymbals.