CACHAR: In a heartwarming acknowledgment of artistic excellence, the Assam state government has unveiled its highest civilian awards – Assam Bhairab, Assam Gaurav, and Assam Saurabh – for the year 2023. Scheduled for a grand ceremony on February 10th, a total of 22 distinguished individuals, including Nirmal Dey, will be bestowed with these honors by the Vice-President and Governor of Assam.
Nirmal Dey, a 60-year-old Sitol Pati Silpi, stands as the lone face of Barak Valley among the recipients. Nestled in the humble village of Chipitabichia in the Cachar District, Nirmal, along with his wife Rajlakshmi Dey, has been a stalwart in sustaining the Sitol Pati industry for several decades.
Residing in a mud house, the couple has weathered life's storms, including the tragic loss of their only daughter Mridula Dey a few years ago. In the face of despair, Rajlakshmi's resilience became the beacon that inspired them to continue their craft and life journey.
Nirmal Dey's journey into the art of weaving Sitol Pati commenced at the tender age of 12 under the guidance of his late father, Gopal Chandra Dey. For the past 48 years, he has diligently honed this craft, turning it into a family tradition. The Assam Gaurav award, for him, is not just a recognition of his artistic prowess but a testament to the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Nirmal expressed his disbelief at receiving the highest civilian honor in the state, contemplating the attire he would wear for the momentous occasion at Raj Bhavan. Emotions welled up as he reflected on his life's journey and the unexpected recognition of his work at the state level.
The three lakh rupees that accompany the Assam Gaurav Award will be a stepping stone for Nirmal and Rajlakshmi to build a new home, marking a significant chapter in their lives. Rajlakshmi, sitting in a corner, emphasized that their village, Chipitabichia, thrives on self-reliance, with everyone earning their livelihood through Sitol Pati weaving.
The couple hopes that with increased government support and facilities, the Sitol Pati industry in their area will gain further prominence, providing sustainable livelihoods to the skilled artisans in Barak Valley and beyond. The recognition of Nirmal Dey's exceptional talent not only highlights the cultural richness of Assam but also underscores the resilience and creativity that thrives in its villages.