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Akakh Bonti flickering

Akakh Bonti flickering

Sentinel Digital Desk

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 17: In the fist of modernization and advanced technology, Assamese tradition of lighting ten-foot-high Akash Banti on the occasion of Kati Bihu is now turning to a history.

Kati Bihu is regarded as the youth of the paddy fields when paddy starts budding and turns white making farmers' families light lamps beneath the Tulsi (basil plant) in the households praying for good yield. In order to ward off pests (insects damaging paddy) farmers follow the tradition of lighting a very long bamboo cut at the roots, and helping it burn with an earthen lamp set on the lantern made by a papaya stem. The device is termed Akakh Bonti (Sky Lamp). With the advancement of science and technology, this tradition has seen one the decline.

Speaking to this reporter, Hahiram Bora, a farmer of Fallangoni village of Golaghat, said, "We used Akakh Bontis in order to kill pests and insects in fields. We're still following the tradition. The rampant use of pesticides in paddy fields has made the use of Akakh Bonti redundant. Very few farmers still glow Akakh Bonti."

Prabin Saikia, a farmer of Khumtai village of Golaghat said, "Lighting Akakh Bonti in Kati Bihu is not just a ritual; it is a form of amusement for all villagers. When there were no altertive forms of entertainment like mobile phones, television and internet; people used to be amazed looking at the high burning Akakh Bontis in the sky draped above the paddy fields. It was another joy to go to the bamboo fields and prepare to light the bamboo on the occasion of Kati Bihu."

"Moreover, arable lands are damaged every year by floods, and we see some strange pests damaging crops, leading villagers to use strong insecticides and pesticides, instead of Akakh Bontis. The practice and the emotion associated with it are waning although a few families still practice it," Saikia added.

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