JATRA AS A TOOL OF COMMUNICATION WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SOUTH KAMRUP OF KAMRUP DISTRACT

Sailendra Das (Sailen)
Research Scholar, Communication and Journalism Department
Gauhati University, Assam, India

 Abstract
The use of folk media as a means of development, communication and awareness is not a recent phenomenon in India. Ever since the end of the 19th century, folk media has been exploited as a method of raising the political and social consciousness of the of people along with creating awareness and entertainment are the main aims of folk media which is based upon ancient Indian perceptions of the role of art in society. Assam is very reach in folk culture. Jatra is one of the famous folk media in Assam. This folk media till now existing in South- Kamrup of Kamrup distract in Assam. It is one of the very important forms of performing arts of Assam consisting of performance of plays in open stage which has always been very much popular among the people in this area. The presentation of jatra deeply influences the rural masses. This is because it is a show for them which has no cost at all unlike the modern means of entrainment like mobile theatre or film etc. So jatra as a performing art can play a very powerful role so far as mass communication is concern. This research paper has examined the role of Jatra as a potent tool of Communication. Also the paper has an attempt to focus some of the suggestive measures to make Jatra a powerful tool of communication.
Key words: Jatra, Communication, South Kamrup

1. Introduction
Jatra means a journey. Jatra here means completely a different concept. It is one of the very important forms of performing arts of Assam consisting of performance of plays in open stage which was very much popular among the people, particularly the rural people during earlier periods covering the mid 20th century. But as time passes, social transformation has been affected by various factors in various fields where the cultural filed also could not remain unchanged. As a result of cultural change newer and newer forms of arts emerged and age old Jatra has to leg behind and today it is nearing extinction. Though Jatra with its mostly royal dramas was a vibrant form of dramatic activities characterized by its performance in open stage with the huge number of audience occupying all four side of the stage. As most of the plays were royal with rare exception, the performers were always seen in royal costumes. The special feature of Jatras in respect of characterization was that the female characters were played by males. This fact could be attributed to conservativeness of the feudal society. The conservativeness was given a big blow by the father of modern Assamese drama, the great Brajanath Sarma in 1933 when he introduced co-acting on the stage in Doomdoma in the play ‘Moran Jeeori’; giving thereby equal rights to women on stage.

1.1Jatra
The history of Jatra is very old. The evidence of its first inception can be found in the Barpeta district. Tithiram Bayan introduced first Jatra in between 1860 to 1865 (Dainik Asom, 27th February, 2013).  Later on, in between 1868 to 1870 Jaydev Sarma introduced the commercial Jatra in Murkuchi of Barpeta district. Again, Santoram Choudhary started a Jatra Parti named as ‘Patshala Theatre Party’ in the year of 1910. After that renowned drama personality Brajanath Sarmah introduced a Jatra Parti named ‘Shila Kalika Opera Party’ in the year 1921.

According to ‘The Report on the Province of Assam’ by James Mils, the geographical area of South Kamrup is North- Brahmaputra River, East-The River Kullung, which divides it from Nowgong and the Jyantiah Mehal, South- The Cossiah Hills, West Habraghat, belonging to Goalpara (Kumer, 2004).
2.   Objectives
i)        To explore how Jatra of South Kamrup is tool of Mass communication.
ii)      To find out how far the thoughts communicated by the Jatras have succeeded in shaping the outlook of the people.
3.   Methodology
This research study was based Primary and secondary data. Primary data collected from producers of Jatra Party, Technicians, and artists available and then of people of the society involved. Tools for Primary data collection are Survey, Interview and Observation. Secondary informations were collected from various books and magazines. The survey was conducted for the year of 2015. Study area is only the grater South Kamrup of the Kamrup Distract, Assam.
4.   Results and Discussion
Jatra in south Kamrup too started coming up in the first quarter of 20th century. As per available source the first Jatra known as ‘Saturvuj Opera Jatra-Parti’ came up in 1913 in Kharapara. Thereafter several Jatra Parti formed in different parts in South Kamrup area  known as, Shri Shri Thakur Jatradaal, Shikarhati(1917), khotiyamari Damodordev Natya Samati(1920-1924), Majir Gaoun Jatradal, Palashbari(1924), Jaganath opera, Rajapukhuri (1927), Palashbari Town Jatradal, Palashbari91933), Shri Shri Bangshi Gopal Natya Parishad, Sanpaara(1938-1963), Sanatan Natya Parisad, Rampur(1988-2004),Girigobordhan Natya Parisad, Chaygaoun(2003), Kahigonga Natya Samaj, Barihat( 2012) etc. (Baruah, 2011).
As time goes, the presentation style of this dramatic form has been improved. The subjects and contents of the plays, lighting set-up, stage set-up, music, costume and makeup everything has been changed by the new trends of cultural movement. The themes of most of the plays earlier were royal; ups and downs of hegemony and the conflict of the emperor with the common people have been regarded as the main issues of the plays. So they had the capacity to attract the common people and hence it is regarded as one of the strong dramatic tools in the society.
Till date more than twenty-five numbers of Jatras (Jatra-Parties) are there in entire South-Kamrup. They are putting their effort to demonstrate the so called traditional style with new look where new thoughts, innovations of science are put together. Mirza, Rampur, Palashbari, Boko, Chaygaoun, Kukurmara, Barihat, Bijaynagar, Khotiyamari, Satpokholi, Rngamati, Tinilai, Bangara, Azara, Bulla are some places of South Kamrup where new approach for demonstrating the traditional style with different ideas has been in process.

Table-1: Similar characteristics of Jatra and Communication
Sl. No.
Jatra
Communication
i)
Messages of jatra is very informative
Communication always (should be) informative
ii)
Plays of jatra informs the individuals or groups about some subject or topic thet directly affects their operations or lives
Communication informs the individuals or groups about some subject or topic thet directly affects their operations or lives
iii)
Palys of jatra changes the opinions of the targeted audiences regarding various social issues, political, economical etc.
Communication changes the opinions of the targeted audiences regarding various social issues, dogmas and taboos
iv)
Through jatra People can earn some good  habits for their better live.
It dissuades them from eschewing some habits, products or services that are harmful to them or to the society in general
v)
Jatra ensure socio-political enlightenment
Its ensure socio-political enlightenment
vi)
The Plays of Jatra motivate people to act according to their own interest.
To motivate people to act according to their own interest.
vii)
The Plays of Jatra inform audience about social, political, economical matter.
To inform the targeted audience about new products, services and concepts that they can buy or use.

At the 21st century, also jatra can communicate among the illiterate mass. Although we are none living in new media age, yet the development of society in its various sides depends on tradinational or folk culture. Jatra is also a strong tool for rural masses. Still in south Kamrup this culture has been playing a vital role for society. According to noted Jatra personality Swapoon Kumar, “The presentation of jatra deeply influences the rural masses. This is because it is a show for them which are of no cost unlike the modern means of entrainment live mobile theatre or film etc. It is important to consider hearted the Jatra party bears infotainments. Where some modern mobile theatre fails to provide information except short-lived entertainment. Again some so-called modern means of communication fails to take the message that they want to give by implementing new technique ‘Sattyam Shivam Sundaram’. But jatra can touch the core of the heart of common people when they are showed the lord Krishna has defeated some Ashura for this reason till today the people of rural area consider Jatra as their apple of eye.
Noted actor and producer of Jatra Amrit Choudhary said, “Today at the 21st century, we have been enjoying to prove that women are the important part of society. But this attempt had done by eminent drama personality Brajanath Sarmah by making women to play role in the stage of Jatra. This is starting. Here I would like to add a name Tulashi Das Baishya, who is frist lady who joined as actress in Jatra. Now we have seen numerous actresses with ‘up to date’ style in the field of entertainment, but it is not proper to consider that the root of lady in the field of acting was done by single man in single thought. Here I am glad to mention some dreams, where I played specific role, they are-Kaal jouban, Masandakar, Bhasushrata.
From the above this discussion we have seen a clear picture about Jatar of South Kamrup. It is right to add here that Jatra running by the people and for the people. Datas are proved that Jara is an instrument for local change and rural people are enjoying Jatra as infotainments. It is the demand of time that the preservation of Jatra in South Kamrup should be keep alive by establishing a link with changing socio-economic side.
Result of research are-Jatra parti is a tool among the rural people and providing–
i)        Women  Empowerment
ii)      Child Development
iii)    Freedom of Expression
iv)    Youth Participation
v)      Buildup Confidence and
vi)    Provide Morality.
1.     Policy Implications
Regarding to prevention of Jatra some suggestions are
i)        Producer of Jatra should be very professional.
ii)  Jatra party have to take some different types of drama (Topic) like Corruption, education system etc. i,e.,  as like there performing style.
iii)  If media (E-media, Print Media) will give more focus in Jatra then this dramatic form will be much benefited.
iv)  Govt. of Assam and India has to give some more importance to focus this tool of communication.
2.   Conclusion
Assam is very rich in folk culture, every folk have their own qualities to attract people and we should use this folk for development of society. Jatra itself is a strong media science 1940 to till now. This dramatic format attracts people for enjoyment. It is one of the very important forms of performing arts of Assam consisting of performance of plays in open stage which has always been very much popular among the people in this area. The presentation of jatra deeply influences the rural masses. So that producer of jatra has to take some step to reform.  This is because it is a show for them which have no cost at all unlike the modern means of entrainment like mobile theatre or film etc. So jatra as a performing art can play a very powerful role so far as mass communication is concern. Finally it proved that this costless dramatic form will be a major tool for communication among the masses.

References
  • B.K. Barua. Asamar Loka- Samskriti. Guwahati: Bina library, 2011, p.56.
  • T. Kumer. Dakshi Kamrup nava Vaisnava Prabaha-Ek alochona. Mirja: Kumar grantha Kosh, 2004, p.14.
  • N. Bordoloi. Asamar Loka sanskriti. Guwahti: Bina libaray, 2011, p.9.
  • N.C. Baruah. Dakshin Kamrupar Jatradal aru Jatrabhinayar Ruprekha, Bijoynagar: Pita-Mata smriti Prakashan, 2011, pp.70 & 24-32.
  • P.K. Das. Yatrar Sanghe Bere Outha.Kolkata :Deys Publication, 2014, P.67.
Appendix: Table- 2
Name of  Some major  jatra party in South Kamrup (1920 to 2013)
Name of Jatra party
Producer
Music Director
1.Saturvuj Opera Jatra-Parti
Manjoy Choudhary, Nabin Ch. Thakuria
Oustad Nandi ram Kalita
2.Khotiyamari Damodordev Natya Samati(1920-1924),
Krishna kanta Goswami
Oustad Nandi ram Kalita
3.Khatiyamari Satpara Raij Gayarah Jatradal
Amanal kanta Goswami
Oustad Sandisaran Das
4.Kharapara Saturvuj Opera jatra pary
Nabin Ch. Thakuriya
Ousatd Sandi Saran Das
5. Palashbari Town Jatra Dal
Umakanta Kalita
Ousatd Sandi Saran Das
6.Sri Sri Bangshi gopal Jatra Party, Sanpara
Akaldakh Das
Oustad Madan Ch. Das
7.Burah Gokhai Jatradal, Menapara
Prafulla Bhatt
Bhatat Choudhary
8. Palli opera Jatra party, Palashbari
Dharanidhar Kalita
Oustad Madan Ch. Das

9.Sarpara Bandhab natya Samiti
Chandadhar Mazumadar
Oustad Madan Ch. Das

10.Sri Madhab Natya parishad,Haropara
Madhab Ch. Sarma
Oustad Madan Ch. Das

11. Bandapara Jatradal
Khayai Ram Mahajan, Katiram Mahajan
Ramakanta Talukdar
12. Sri Sri Bangshi gopal Natya Parisad, Hakarapara
Andhuwa Mahajan
Oustad Madan Ch. Das

13. Tatiprara Jatradal
Jarman Rabha
Nabin Kalita
14. Bangshi gopal Natya parisad, Satabari
Gopal Thakuria
Oustad Madan Ch. Das

15.Barihat Mahalaxmi Jatra party
Chandra Kanta Goswami
Manjoy Choudhury
16. Sri Sri Bangshi gopal Jatradal, Kallapara
Gagan CChoudhury
--
17.tarapoti Jatradal
Mahendra Das
Nabin Kalita
18.Sri Sri sankardev Natya Parisad
Utpal das

19.Satya sanatan Natya Parisad, Rampur
Kushal Mazumadar
Rupam Kalita

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