Holi in the Barpeta district of Assam is much more than colours, sweets and celebrations. The festival is deeply rooted in the Satriya culture. Popularly known as Doul Utsav, in Barpeta, Holi in this region is a four-day-long affair.
The Barpeta Satra is a monastery founded by Vaishnav saint Sankardeva’s disciple Madhavdeva. For four days, the Satra resonates with Holi songs, the sounds of cymbals, and traditional performances of the Vaishnav Sattriya tradition.
“When (goddess) Lakshmi came to know that her husband (Lord Krishna) was visiting Ghunusa’s house, Lakshmi was angry with Krishna. Lakshmi closed the doors of her house and did not let Krishna enter. When Krishna reached home from Ghunusa’s house along with his devotees Lakshmi restrained Krishna’s entrance. There was a rush at the entrance (Krishna and his devotees) wanted to enter, but Lakshmi did not let them. After the rush at the entrance, Krishna finally entered along with his devotees. They broke the bamboo barricades put up the Lakshmi,” said Gautam Pathak, the Deka Satradhikari or the head monk.
The first day of the festival, known as Gondh Jatra, kicked off on March 16. People from across Assam visit Barpeta to witness the Doul Utsav, in which they transcend into a mystical phase. It is the one festival that Barpeta waits for with much enthusiasm throughout the year. The pandemic had somewhat affected the spirit of the people in Barpeta during the last two years, but this year, lakhs of people are expected to take part in the celebrations.
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