Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority
...Promoting and preserving the rich heritage of Majuli

CULTURE - FESTIVALS CELEBRATED IN THE RIVER ISLAND OF MAJULI

RAAS UTSAV

Raas Leela, Dakhinpat Sattra

The Raas Lila is an annual festival being performed on the full moon day (Purnima) in the months of October-November (Kati- Aghun) during the autumn season. It is not known for certain in which Sattra Rasa Lila was first introduced in Majuli as a performing festival. During this festival the Sattras draw a large number of people.
The Raas Lila is the story of the life of Lord Krishna presented in the performing art form. It begins with the birth of Krishna, his upbringing at the house of king Nanda, his tending the cows at Gokula along with his fellow cowherds, his childhood activities, his killing of the demons like Bakasur, Putana, Kaliya, and of Kamsa- his maternal uncle, at various times of his youth and on various other occasions. Finally his amorous play with the Gopis.In the Udasin Sattras, the Ras dance is performed by the celibate inmates of the Sattra, the Bhakats donning female costume in the night in the namghar with music and dance. Performance of the Ras Lila involves various classes of musical instruments, music and dance, and artifacts mask and painting. First Raas Leela was performed at Dakhinpat Sattra in 1840 A.D. and it is continued with full ritual ways. These constitute Assamese classical music and dance. Raas Lila was made into a stage performance by Pitambardeva Goswami of Garamur Sattra in the year 1934; in the year 1950 he permitted the girls of the Sattra to take roles in the Raas Lila and dance. Today, in most of the centers women participation is the normal way to carry on the Raas Lila performance.
This festival has a great impact on the life and culture of the people of Majuli in particular, though it is a part of the culture of the Sattras as a festival it is performed by many of the villages. During the festival every man and woman and child remains busy receiving visitors and performing different duties related to the festival. There are reports to the effect that during the festival that lasts for four to five days at a stretch, lakhs of outsiders visit the island, and every family is to receive and keep one or more of them for those days.