MANGALDAI, June 18: Mahendra Saharia, an octogenarian exponent of oja pali and Khulia Bhaona, which are two of the major components of the traditionally rich Darrangi culture, and a humble social activist of Darrang district is no more. He left for heavenly abode at his residence at Neogpara village near Kalaigaon in Darrang district on Saturday. He was 82. Saharia was a prominent exponent of oja pali and had performed this component of Darrangi culture with much devotion and dedication in various places of the district. After his marriage, at the age of 16 he got interested in oja pali and started its practice under his guru, Gongo Oja- a famous name in oja pali at that time. He was also expert in playing the khol created by Mahapurush Sri Manta Shankardeb.
The Khulia Bhaona is one of the localized forms of Ankiya Bhaona, which is also one of the unique creations of Mahapurush Sankardev and Saharia was also deeply involved with Khulia Bhaona. Saharia also was part of the historic Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985 for which his entire family had to face the atrocities of police and security forces several times. His involvement with social work could well be reflected from his leadership to construct an embankment at the source of Kulsi river along the Indo-Bhutan border in 1988 only to control the river which had created heavy devastation in the downstream areas.
On receipt of the news of his demise, a number of admirers, family members, villagers and a number of activists of the Assam Movement rushed to his residence and offered their last respect. He leaves behind his wife Jamuna Saharia and sons Jiten Saharia, Hiren Kumar Saharia, Sachindra Saharia and Khirod Saharia. His last rites were performed in his village in presence of a number of admirers and family members.