MURULIDHAR DAS - AN UNTIRING PERSONALITY CONTRIBUTING TO FOLKLORE OF ASSAM

Murulidhar Das
By Dr. Lokesh Boro

Murulidhar Das is one of the popular writers in Assam who has contributed a lot in the field of folklore literature. He has been concentrating all his energies, every moment of his life in exploration, preservation and propagation of the rich cultural heritage of Assam. He is the pioneering figure in the study of folklore in the greater Dimoria area of Kamrup (Metropolitan) district of Assam. 

The area of his study in folkloric field has been growing day by day nook and corner in the entire Assam. An extraordinary researcher, writer, author of children literature, a compiler or editor and senior journalist, Das occupies a unique place in Dimoria area and Assam as well.

Murulidhar Das is born at Khaloibari village, Khetri (Dimoria) in the present district of Kamrup (Metropolitan), Assam in the month of May, 1947. His parents were not well recognized with alphabets to read or write and agriculture has been the primary source of livelihood of his family. If we look back, the educational facility in Assam in early time of independent India was not adequate comparing to present day context, but he could able to become educated even at that time overcoming many difficulties. 

He could take a government job, but a person of down to earth; could not ignore the inborn smell of soil, following paternal habitable, he has been devoting whole life in studying and preserving folklore and cultural aspects of his native area. He stated in this regard that if he preferred a government job, 
A book on Tiwa and Karbi tribe

he would not have adequately devoted into the field of his interest. Such a way, he has been untiringly in chase to find out and disseminate aspects of ethnic tradition and culture. As a person he is quite simple and nourishing no high ambition, enjoying life just as it is, but still we can sum up quoting the English proverb, “simple living and high thinking” is the aim of his life. His drawing cum library room is just like a Museum where he has a good collection of traditional or folkloric stuffs of different ethnic communities.

He took the pen quite early and significantly ‘Rumal’, a kind of a political satire, was his first write up published in the 1964 edition of ArjyaVidyapithBahumukhiVidyalaya’s magazine when he was just a student in standard VIII. It earned him much praise from his teachers as well as his friend circle. In the same year, he also wrote an article in the magazine ‘Janashiksha’ published by the Government of Assam under its social education programme. Those two opportunities were his turning point in life as he felt encouraged to take the pen seriously as lifelong endeavor. It is noteworthy to be mentioned here that the source of inspiration for writing has been receiving from his native Dimoria, which is very much integral to his life. He himself reveals that he likes to live his life in the midst of simple people of Dimoria, its land, water, animals, birds, trees, etc. In his article ‘Janagustiyo Sanskritiye MukMuhita Kari Ahise’ published in ‘Janajati Sourav’ (2009), he stated that Dimoria is the home of some legendary events of North-East. It is obvious that numerous folkloric pertinent of historical events still exist in Dimoria area. Future research on these folklorist traditions would throw light on the importance of this area. With a missionary zeal, Murulidhar Das has embarked on the unprofitable task of unearthing and collecting rare and precious data travelling even in hilly terrains which are considered inhospitable. Travelling the remotest places thus seems to be demoralizing effects, but his love to the native land and the co-operation rendered by the people makes him forget the toils of his labour.  The bulk of his research findings are yet to come to the limelight in printed form either for financial confrontation stands as stumbling block or be short of concerned sponsors; however, he has not mislaid optimism. Even at the age of sixty seven, he is mentally and physically sound to climb up hills or to cross the rivers for such creative work.

A book on 'Lalilang' folk dance
Lalilang’ is one of his excellent works prevalent in oral form in Dimoria area. In fact, it is a kind of traditional Bihu songs, raw folk songs prevailing in Dimoria, which are generally sung at the time of ‘Uruka’, i.e., the day preceding to MaghBihu (or MakarSankranti) or before the time of catching fishes in beels like Bomanibeel, Jalixorabeel and Parhalibeel on this particular day. But under the influence of more popular Bollywood songs, at present the practice of such renditions by the youth is on the decline.  So he has decided to document for posterity those verbal songs in the written medium. He collected such traditional LalilangBihu songs from the elderly persons of the area who are more familiar with them. He has compiled the collected songs and published as ‘Pachkuri Lalilang’ in 2002 (Second edition 2009). Some of such songs are as under:

[ 1 ]
Prathamepranamooi Ai Saraswatioi
DitiyatepranamooiHari;
TritiyatepranamooibeelarBurha-Methaoi
DharijangLalilangoroiguri.

[ 2 ]
IswaresarjileoiDhanarekathiaoi
Brahmaisarjeoi Nam;
Beya Nam ohlaleoikhamaRaijeoi
PrathameLalilangoi gam.
Game heraLalilangoi
JalixoratJakoi bang oi
Khaloidangidangioichang.

Besides, he has written some remarkable books on ethnic communities like the Tiwas and the Karbis. Some of his finest literary works related to Dimoria are -Tiwa aru Karbi Lukor Sanskritir Lesari ButaliBhoiyam Karbi Luko Paramparaaru Geet-PadBhoiyam Karbi Luko Sanskritit EbhumukiKavitaKanan, etc. He has also published many research articles in daily newspapers, magazines, journals etc. on Singpho, Mising, Tangsha, Tai-Khamti, Tai-Phake, Deori tribes of the state. At present, he is working on the traditional costumes of the Moran community. Further he has written folk tales of Karbi, Tiwa and Boro communities for children. About nine of his folk tales have been aired by All India Radio, Guwahati in its popular children programme called “Akoni Mel”. All the six documentaries made on ethnic culture and tradition by his initiative have been shown in Doordarshan Kendra, Guwahati. It is also observed that all the eleven episodes of his folk based play, ‘Rasang’, have been telecasted by Doordarshan Kendra, Guwahati under PPC (North-East) programme. One of the notable points about him is that the Department of Cultural Studies, Tezpur University, Assam has preserved his excellent work called “Dimoriar Geetmat” in its Archive.

Dr Lokesh Boro with Murulidhar Das
The books and articles published by Murulidhar Das are products of his in-depth research works which are stated to be as invaluable resource in folklore literature. Therefore, the contribution already made by him can be considered as the handy resource for intending researchers in folklore.

Meeting him at his residence at Khaloibari village, Khetri during January, 2014; it was remarkably a happy feeling with sincere gratitude, because sparing long hours with us he told many aspects of ethnic culture and tradition of Assam. We were made aware a lot of things, but tried to explore in mind on the depth of his words that there would obviously be penetrating sparks insight his all resourceful works. Although his excellent works have already brought kudos to his locality for which people of Dimoria is also very much grateful towards him forever, we still think that he deserves something the best noticeable for his untiring contributions. We wish him all the best and good health!

About the authorDr. Lokesh Boro, Assistant Professor (Senior), D.C.B. Girls’ College, Jorhat.

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