The arts nurtured in satras in Assam are part of a living cultural tradition. Elucidate their origin and evolution and their contribution to India's art forms.
Satras are Vaishnavite monasteries who adhere to the teachings of 15th-century reformer Srimanta Sankardev. In the 15th century, Vaishnavite saint Shankardev brought a religious and social reform movement in Assam. With the development of the movement, people from different castes and creeds came together. Shankardev began with the few satars in Majuli island. The monks or bhakats took an active part in the propagation and development of the varied art forms. With the passage of time art forms started spreading out of Majuli.
In order to convey the to convey cultural messages to the people through entertainment, Shankardev initiated the form of dance-dramas or bhaona. Bhaonas narrate religious stories and the contents of Srimad Bhagwat Purana and the Ramayana to the devotees. Bhaonas forms one of the core activities of the Auniati Satra, and satra is seen as a symbol of the bhaona, or Ankiya Naats.
The mask is key component of theatrical performances initiated by Shankardev and Samaguri Satra, is the world-renowned mask-making monastery . These masks are used in bhaonas, to capture emotions and expressions not possible for a face to depict.
Another major contribution of the satras is the Sattriya dance. Within the satras, this art form integrated with music and dance, and is taught to young disciples.
Satra is one of the few places where the culture of guru-disciple tradition still exists. A unique aspect of the arts nurtured at the satras is that they are part of a living cultural tradition.
Cultural and religious segment creates opportunities for development of tourism on the river island. However, due to recurring floods, these activities are halted. Because of the flood, satara’s future is uncertain. In an effort to keep the age-old traditions alive, satras are shifting out of Majuli to other places.
Appropriate steps should be taken to preserve our old art and traditions. Our culture and traditions should be taken outside for the rest of world to see.
E-Book: 001 - Indian Art Forms
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