Majuli SATRAS and Landscape

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1. Setting sun’s rays fall on bamboo huts. Majuli is amongst the largest inhabited river islands worldwide. It is the cradle of the Assamese civilization for more than 550 years. It is here that Assam’s great saint, poet, social reformer ‘Srimanta Sankaradeva’ and his famous disciple Madhabdeva lived in the 16th century. This albums covers key satras and landscape.

2. Naamghar in one of the villages we visited. Naamghar is the centre to practice spiritual, moral and artistic knowledge. It consists of a hall where devotees gather, listening and enchanting of the name of the Bhagawata (Absolute Soul) and playing musical instruments. Devotees forget their individual identity to assume the identity of congregational existence.

3. Entrance of every Naamghar has Garuda and Hanuman as you see in pic. Our host said this was the cultural centre of the village.

4. Left right are Dwarpal or doorkeepers as seen in temples across India. Centre red is Manikut. Top is Guru Sthan where Bhagawata Purana kept. It has 7 levels, a friend said they represent the seven chakras.

5. Entrance to 17th century Dakhinpat Satra-Monastery. Satra is a religious monastery, storehouse of art and culture where resides Guru (Sattradhikar (spiritual head), Dev, Naam (chanting of Krishna’s name) and Bhagat (devotee).

6. Most monasteries have a water body largish pond like this. Besides naamghar a satra has rooms where monks stay and a museum where various artefacts are stored for public viewing. See assets and jewellery of Ahom days and manuscripts. .

7. Adjoining the naamghar is a corridor which leads to monks rooms. They have a simple lifestyle. Some satras have land which is cultivated by monks. This satra has NATUA dance i.e. a fusion of Devdasi and Satriya dance. It is also known for dance Ojapali.

8. This satra has murthis of Sri Krishna amongst others. Many worship the Bhagawata Purana i.e. kept on the Guru Sthan and no idols as you saw in pic 2.

9. A favourite point for sunset viewing is the bridge that leads to Uttar Kamalbari Satra. On the bridge met this group from the temple town of Sivasagar.

10. Next is the Garamur Satra. View of Naamghar. It is a huge hall with a tin covered top. End of hall is the sanctum as indicated by structure on left of pic.

11. Inside the Naamghar is a huge wooden Garuda that you see, right is Hanumanji.

12. Naamghar, end is Manikut. So simple. They too have a museum but cannot take pictures there. On day one of the Ras Mahotsav – saw performance of the story of the life of Lord Krishna presented in the performing art form and as mentioned in the ‘Bhagawata Purana’. Very good.

13. In the room of Guru (Sattradhikar (spiritual head) is pic of Sri Krishna.

14. The Vrindavani Bastra Picture, created by Mahapurusha Srimanata Sankaradeva, depicts various episodes from Sri Krishna’s childhood for e.g. breaking of milk pot, killing Putona and Bakasur. It is these stories that are depicted in the Ras Mahotsav i.e. held from 22-24th November every year. Part 1 of picture.

15. Part 2 of the Vrindavani Bastra Picture.

16. Sunset Majuli. Pic courtesy Ravi Venkateshwar.

17. Auniati Satra. Inside the sanctum – here murthis are worshipped. They are various roop of Sri Krishna ie Govinda, Narayan, Vasudev, Giridhar and Bhubharmoka. The murthis were brought from Puri by King Zayadhej Singha.

18. Again a huge wooden Garuda. Reminded me of Garuda at Srirangam Mandir Trichy Tamil Nadu. On day one of the Raas Mahotsav missed seeing the unique Dashavatar Nritya at Auniati Satra.

19. Long corridors of Naamghar. See decoration around wooden windows. Naamghar used for chanting, drama and puja.

20. Museum inside Satra. In front is an old boat. Since photography not allowed clicked what I was allowed to.

21. Overview of museum. Worth a dekho.

22. An old Neem tree outside the Naamghar. Normally neem trees very small. This one is huge so revered. This satra has devotes from Sonwal Kachari tribe and from Mising and Deori tribes amongst others.

23. This is an ancient articles and manuscript preservation centre. Was closed but glad to see the effort.

24. It was Ras Mahotsav time so lots of devotees come to Satra. Typical Assamese family at entrance. It is mandatory for all devotees to remove shoes at satra entrance.

25. You see Sattradhikar (spiritual head) of this satra. Devotees come offer pranams, ask questions and take his blessings. Had a chat with him. Simple and forthcoming. Satra has a Head Assistant and Apprentice to help the Spiritual head. This satra has 300 monks and 10 lakh devotees. It follows the Udasi Parampara.

26. Majuli is full of streams and rivulets. This one is enroute to Uttar Kamalbari Satra.

27. Visited Mishing tribal homes. House on a height, see right of pic. Below they keep a boat, loom etc. Home is made of bamboo/cane and top tin sheet. Front enclosed area as you see. Visited a couple of homes. They have all the modern household gadgets.

28. Below the home they have this textile loom. When ladies find time they weave as you see.

29. Entrance to Uttar Kamlabari Satra. Pic about 4ish. In winters it gets dark pretty early in Majuli. Simple tin structure, centre red is Manikut.

30. Left is Garuda. Naamghar. End of hall is Manikut. On top is Guru Sthan where is placed the Bhagavata Purana.

31. This is Satra museum, display of old artefacts.

32. Monk at a satra. Virtually every monk that I met in various satras had a certain serenity and tranquillity about them, felt good meeting them very positive vibrations. Chamaguri Satra (monastery) Majuli that makes Masks is a must see.

33. Bamboo huts enroute to Uttar Kamlabari just before sunset. Saw lots of tourists staying there. Very nice location – water in front, fields all around you, area open.

34. Mishing tribal home. Lady making APONG or rice beer. When I asked permission for clicking she laughed and said go ahead. Note home is at a height.

35. She is making rice beer and offered me some. Loved it.

36. Loved the smiles. So warm and welcoming. For a good guide and home stay in Majuli call Rumi Hazarika 91 91018 29796, 94356 56888.

37. Near Garhmur Satra met this girl. Since it is Raas Mahotsav time lots of tourists from within and outside of Assam. During Thrissurpuram in Kerala had seen girls do something similar.

38. This is Majuli’s popular hotel DEKASANG made of bamboo. Huts are Naga style. Rooms are nice and clean. Met lot of non Assamese tourists who were staying there.

39. Typical room to give you a sense of the facility. You can book online. Majuli attracts lots of birds. For a Guide on bird watching call Bitupan Kolong 91 87219 77353. Or

40. My host insisted he show me his farm. Since it was Raas Mahotsav time relatives from all over had come. They helped in the harvesting and were happy to be clicked.

41. My host insisted he show me his farm. Since it was Raas Mahotsav time relatives from all over had come. They helped in the harvesting and were happy to be clicked.

42. Near same pic but against setting sun rays – u can see reflection in the water.

43. From the road one needs to cross this bridge to reach cottages, gives you an idea of the landscape.

44. Front view of cottages against setting sun.

45. Sunset view. There is a viewing point for sunset. This pic is from close to that although not the exact point. I think pic 16 is from the perfect sunset view point. To see pics of Mask making Chamaguri Satra

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