Guwahati: Bharat Mata Pujan 2023, organised with an aim to celebrate the legacy, culture and traditions of the great land, kick starts on Thursday (1 Kati of 1430 Bhaskarabda) coinciding the Sharadiya Durgotsav. Thousands of cultural personalities, art connoisseurs and patriotic nationals assembled at Chandmari AEI field in the far eastern part of Bharat (India) to participate and witness the unique festival, where the motherland is worshiped as a deity.
Organised under the initiative of Pragnya (wisdom), the five-day spiritual extravaganza was inaugurated by Nrityacharya Jatin Goswami on 19 October by lighting the sacred lamp in presence of Taren Boro (former president of Boro Sahitya Sabha), Jitul Sonowal (president of Pragnya), Manmath Barua (president of Bharat Mata Pujan committee) with other distinguished personalities.
It was followed by Akhand Bharat Parikrama, where thousands with earthen lamps on their hands moved around the Bharat Mata idol amidst a model of an Indian subcontinent comprising India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and
Myanmar. A collective dance with nearly 1000 participating artistes on the theme of Vande Mataram turned out to be a visual feast and it was followed by a group dance competition to enthrall the audience.
Showing regard to motherland as a goddess may be unusual for other nations across the globe, but the Indian people continue calling the sacred land as Bharat Mata (or Bharatamba) since time immemorial. The personification of India as a mother goddess gained momentum during the freedom movement against the British colonial forces.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay introduced a hymn titled ‘Vande Mataram’ in his Bengali language novel ‘Anand Math’ (1882) and Kiran Chandra Bandyopadhyay performed a play titled ‘Bharat Mata’ in 1873. Since then Bharat Mata, wearing red-coloured sari with a saffron flag on hands with an accompanying lion, symbolises a unified motherland (Akhanda Bharat) for millions of Indians.
Abanindranath Tagore, the eminent artist nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, portrayed Bharat Mata as a Hindu goddess in a 1905 painting. The four-armed deity, wearing saffron coloured traditional garments, carried a book, an Akshmala, sheaves of rice and a piece of white cloth (symbolising Shiksha, Diksha, Anna & Bastra). Bharat Mata as a Devi was also drawn on the cover of Tamil language magazine ‘Vijaya’ (edited by poet Subramania Bharati) in 1909.
A series of cultural programs including Guru Pujan, Kanya Pujan, Mohiyasi Matri Sanman presentation, Alpana contest, puppet shows, folk musical performance, mime shows, exhibition and splendid cultural functions are on the card during the festival which will culminate on Maha Navami of Durga Puja. The visiting children are being entertained every evening by the traditional Assamese string-puppet theatres.