FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
SIVASAGAR, Aug 29: The Sivasagar district administration has recommended Shilpguru Reba Kanta Mahanta’s me for the Padma Awards-2015 which will be announced on the occasion of Republic Day, 2016.
Reba Kanta Mahanta is a recipient of hundreds of State and tiol level awards given by various organizations including government agencies/institutions. In the year 2010, he was honoured with Shilp Guru Award by the Ministry of Handloom and Textiles, Government of India, among other nine Gurus of India for different fields. In the year 2014, he was awarded with the prestigious Sangeet tak Academy Award for his life-long contribution to preserve the endangered tradition of mask making.
Mahanta is a prominent artiste in the field of traditiol mask culture of Assam and has been rendering exponential contribution towards this unique art form and successfully projected this unique art form of Assam in the tiol and intertiol stage.
Talking to The Sentinel, Mahanta said he was born on April 19, 1935 to a Kayastha family in Sri Sri Khatpar Xatra, Hanhchara, Sivasagar. His father’s me was Gopikanta Mahanta, a mask artiste and a freedom fighter of India’s freedom movement and his mother Sundari, a housewife. His father was an artiste pensioner of the State of Assam who denied the political pension thinking that “fighting for mother tion is his duty and he needed no citation or reward”.
He started learning mask art at an early age from his father. Apart from mask making he started to learn the tips of Xatriya dance, the performing Art form Bhao/ Ankiya Bhao from his artiste father. After his Schooling and Senior Secondary, he took initiative to establish a girls’ school in Hanhchara as there was no educatiol institution for women in that region. His social enthusiastic vision and responsibility established the Hanhchara Girls’ High School in the year 1962. He served there as honorary teacher till 1996. Apart from this, he established a school med Bidya Bhavan for the students of his rural locality.
Mahanta served District Xatra Mahasabha for 27 years in the capacity of general secretary, which is a common forum of all the disciples of Xatras and its branch established by Shrimanta Shankardeva. He is a life member of Axam Xahitya Xabha also.
Recollecting his meeting with former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, Mahanta said, “In the year 2003, I represented Assam in the Republic Day procession held at New Delhi with mask making tableau and cultural performances and bagged the second prize for the State of Assam. Seeing our performance in the procession, the honourable President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam invited our team to Rashtrapati Bhavan and we demonstrated before him the scenes of Bhao with mask. Our performances were highly praised by the President.” “The memory of that day is preserved in my mind to cherish for my entire life,” Mahanta added.
Apart from these, he wrote many articles on religion, culture and mask making in various newspapers, magazines and souvenirs.