By Dr Nripen Chandra Das
For the first time a session of the Axom Xahitya Xabha is going to be held at Kaliabor. Kaliabor, a sub–division of gaon District, is situated in the mid–part of Assam. Kaliabor marked with the greenery of innumerable tea gardens is pleasing to the eyes of the visitors for its ture’s bounty. Here at Pandit Atmaram Sarma Samanway Skhetra of the Mauchanda field near Kaliabor Tiniali beside the tiol Highway 37A this 73rd session of the Axom Xahitya Xabha will be held. Buranjee Sanmilan, one integral part of every session of the Axom Xahitya Xabha, is going to be held in an aura of history and culture of Kaliabor.
Culturally and historically rich Kaliabor produced a good number of writers. Atmaram Sarma, the first translator of the Bible into Assamese titled Dharmapustak, was the son of Kaliabor. From the available evidences so far found it can be presumed that in ancient period of the history of Assam Kaliabor was important. Probably the capital med Hadupeswara or Hatapeswara of the Shalastambha kings of Kamarupa kingdom was at Kaliabor.
Religious history of Kaliabor is rich. Evidences of this are many old Shaiva and Shakta shrines. Satras and mghars are scattered all over Kaliabor. Ambikath Devalaya at Hatigaon, Trishuldhari temple at Silghat, and Chitrasankar Devalaya at Bamuni are the important Shaiva shrines of Kaliabor. Kamakhya temple at Silghat and Durga temple at Hatimura constructed during the rule of Ahom king Pramatta Singha are famous Shakti temples. Kamakhya temple at Silghat is called ’Second Kamakhya’. Typical Ahom architectural style can be noticed on some of vima structures of these temples. Impact of Shaiva and Shakta cults of Hinduism were domint here before the rise of Neo–vaishvite religion propagated by Sankardeva.
Coming from a different cultural zone a layman even can notice very deep rooted impact of Sankari or Neo–vaishvite culture here. Kaliabor can be termed as the ’Second Majuli’ of Assam. There are chhara akhan i.e., 25 important Satras in Kaliabor. An aura of Vaishva culture is always reverberated in every nook and corner of the place. Sanchi manuscripts on vaishva tradition are found in every mghar and Satra of the place.
Bhao of Kaliabor has its own style and identity. Hazaribhao where thousands of people are involved, is a worth seeing spectacle. Hazaribhao is a sort of juggerut Bhao performed on the traditions of Neo–vaishvite faith. It is said that origin of Baresahariya Bhao of Jamagurihat is actually origited from Kaliaborean Hazaribhao. It is a fact that people from Kaliabor were taken there to start new settlement in the pre–colonial era. So they revived the Hazaribhao in a new form. It is also noteworthy that gaon is the result of new settlement of villages out of the people taken from Kaliabor.
Bharali mghar is an important mghar of Kaliabor. It is famous among the devotees for the Maghi Purnima festival held here. People from different places of the district throng the place on the day.
There are so many tribes in Kaliabor. Here the oldest tribe is the Bodos. Tea tribes, Nepali, Bihari, –Asomiya Musalman, etc. are other important communities who came to Kaliabor in different periods of history. Representatives of almost all the tribes and communities can be traced in Kaliabor. River Kolong flowing through Kaliabor from east to west is a witness to many historic events and legends of Kaliabor. Kolong is the creator of the culture and history of the place. The culture of Kaliabor is a miniature representation of the conglomerate Assamese culture. Unfortutely Kolong is now a dead rivulet in Kaliabor region due to its closure at the mouth of Arikatamukh near Jakhalabandha.
In medieval period of the history of Assam, Kaliabor was strategically a prominent place. It was a battlefield between the Ahoms and the Mughals. A few deciding battles took place here between the Ahoms and invading foreigners in the medieval period. If Kaliabor is lost to the foreigners then whole Ahom kingdom was lost.
A good number of places in Kaliabor are associated with the events and anecdotes of Ahom history. The popular legend of Kamala Kunwari is associated with the Bharali Barua Pukhuri of this place. The legend of Mulagabharu is well known among the Assamese people. Mulagabharu came riding an elephant to take vengeance upon the enemies who killed her husband Ahom general Fraseng–Mung at the battle of Kaliabor. She sacrificed her life here fighting valiantly against invading Turbak and his soldiers in the early part of the sixteenth century AD. Some of the Muslim soldiers remained in Kaliabor perpetually at Jayantipur village of Kaliabor. Their Bar–maszid established in 1570 A.D. is one of the oldest mosques of India.
A good number of roads, ponds, forts and ramparts belonging to the Ahom period still exist here and there. Forts and ramparts were constructed to obstruct the invading Mughals coming from the west. A few cannons preserved at the mager’s bunglow of Silghat tea garden are also testimony to the Ahom–Mughal conflict of the medieval period.
Ras festival of Kaliabor is fervently performed on the lines of Majuli. Baghbheta mela is now a part of the folk cultural resource of Kaliabor. Ashokastami mela held at Silghat for about one week every year is .a popular fair of gaon district.
Kaliabor is a place of tourist interest particularly among the picnickers. The place adjacent to world famous tiol Park Kaziranga has prospects of heritage tourism–cultural as well as tural. Representation of rich cultural heritage will be reflected at the venue of this session of Axom Xahitya Xabha. As the place is well connected in the road and rail communication, it is expected that this session will attract people from all directions of Assam.
We hope this session of Axom Xahitya Xabha will be successful in spreading the message of harmony and peace among all the tribes and communities of Assam already torn apart by strife and clash. The Xabha will be able to regain the former trust and confidence of the people irrespective of caste and creed over it. This session of the Xabha at a place of historical significance has the scope of being historic. Otherwise this great Assamese institution will lose its relevance and significance, and everything about it will be history only.
(The author is presently Secretary, Buranjee Sanmilan, 73rd Kaliabor Session of Asom Sahitya Sabha.)