From a Correspondent
TEZPUR, March 16: The three-day long 197th Dhekidol Gudi Bathow Kherai Mahotsav was held at Uhanipathar Dhekidol Kheraisali in Ghoramari area. It concluded on Thursday.
The Bodo Kacharis celebrate Bathow Puja every year. Bathow Puja, having roots in ancient history and also known by different mes as Kherai, Maroi and Garja, is celebrated to worship a god who is thought to be the pagan equivalent of Lord Shiva. Taju Ram rjary, a noted social worker of the area whohas been playing a pivotal role in keeping alive the age-old festival in the area, said that the god worshipped in this puja is called BathowBwrai, Khuria Bwrai and Shib Bwrai. In this, a cactus med Bwrai Bathow, which is encircled by a bamboo boundary, is worshipped. It is then offered grains, fruits and flowers. rzary also revealed that the ritual of the puja involves a frenzied dance by the oracle known as Doudini. “The Doudini also performs Kherai dance in front of the Bwrai Bathow. She is joined by men in the dance who keep a distance from the place. Others watch the rituals from a distance. The puja is actually performed by a priest who is called Deuri,” rzary said, adding that dance and music were an important part of the puja.
The folk songs of Bodo tribes are sung with fervour during the puja following a particular pattern of the music beat. Speaking on the history of the puja, he also said that as per the record, during 1820 one Khora Bura hailing from an Ahom family during the Burmese attack
settled in the area and got assimilated with the Bodo culture and heritage after getting married to a Bodo woman. However, in the later years, a British-era dedicated village headman of the area popular as Ba Gaonburha gave a new dimension to the puja.
The area comprising 10 villages including Uhanipar, Dhekidol, Botabari, Sopaguri, Tupukijhar, Kharupatgaon, Khangibandha, Jugloni, Koilabhata and Rajgarh, which are developed from all sides, including culture, education and economy, have been able to remainunited through this culture only. “The puja which was earlier performed under the tree, has nowadays been transformed to a permanent Bathowsali,” rzary said.
On the other hand, giving detail about the three-day long programme, noted social worker and entrepreneur and secretary of the puja committee, Manuj Kumar Basumatary said that the Kherai or Bathow Puja was normally celebrated three times in the year during the month of March, May/ June, and October/November. Maintaining the tradition, the area has been performing the puja since its inception seeking blessing of God Sibrai for the peace and prosperity of the common people of the area. “This time also we arranged the puja for three days which included Jhumai gwthar preparation programme at Bardewri’s home on the first day followed by unfurling of flag of the puja by Tajuram rzary, cultural procession flagged off by former MLA, Kamal Chandra Basumatary, dangoria puja, Khandow raja puja and mahila puja at the main Bathowsali and installation of altar of Bathow called ‘Bathow Bedi’ the next day,” Manuj Basumatary said, adding the programme came to an end with the main Kherai Puja.