Sattriya recital charms Delhizens

The origin of Sattriya dance is said to date back to 500 years. But it was only in the year 2000, Sattriya was recognised as one of the eight principal classical dance traditions of India by Sangeet Natak Akademi. It was traditionally performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as a part of their daily rituals or on special festivals and present mythological teachings. But today, Sattriya is also performed by women who are not members of the sattras, on themes not merely mythological.

In a recent event titled ‘Srijan’r Nritya Arghya’, Srijani Bhaswa Mahanta, a graduate from Lady Sri Ram College, presented a Sattriya recital at ICCR auditorium. The jam-packed auditorium witnessed an episodic Bhaona performance by Mahanta accompanied by a group of young monks from Purana Kamalabari Sattra, Majuli, Assam. The performance was organised by the Srimanta Foundation, in association with Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The show started with the Sutradhari Nritya in which Mahanta enthralled the audience with her performance as Purusha and Prakriti that involved singing and mimicry filled with emotion. The music was composed under the guidance of Kesavananda Deva Goswami.

Directed by Adhyapak Paramananda Kakoty, ‘Nrixingho Murari’, the Sankari form of theatre, was performed by the young monks of Purana Kamalabari Sattra. Traditional Sattriya Masks of Barah and Nrixingha, made by Pradip Hazarika of Jorabari Sattra of Amguri, were used in the short natya. The masks were made of items like bamboo, jute, tulapat and cowdung.


Speaking on the occasion Mahanta said, “I was brought up in an environment of traditional Sattriya culture of Sri Sri Barkhatpar Sattra, Sivasagar, Assam and hence have been a participant and observer of various facets of Sattriya music, dance and theatre. I started learning Sattriya dance in 1999 when I was a six years old and feel extremely blessed to be a disciple of Guru Padma Shri Ghanakanta Bora Borbayan. In 2003, I was introduced to the vibrant world of Abhinaya and various nuances of Sattriya choreography by my Guru (Late )Dr Jagannath Mahanta.”

Present on the occasion were classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, Jawahar Sircar, CEO of Prasar Bharti and Satish C Mehta; Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Mansingh appreciated the performance and said, “Sattriya dance is not known to many. The elegance of this dance form is mesmerising. And it was seen in Srijani’s performance. Apart from her dancing, her singing was sweet, evocative and soothing.”


Sircar informed how unlike many other traditional dance forms, Sattriya dance never needed a revival. “Although other classical dance forms have had to be reworked, cleansed and re-packaged over the years, Sattriya has been able to maintain its pure form and distinct style for over 500 years,” he said.

Mahanta shared how people were ignorant of this dance form and often
mistook it for Kshatriya, the war dance.

“In college, I tried to spread the spirit of this art tradition through numerous performances, lecture-demonstrations and casual conversations. The situation changed from the students being absolutely unaware of this dance form to them calling it ‘Kshatriya’, mistaking it for some sort of war dance. But today, they not only pronounce it right, but also appreciate the niceties of the Nritya, Abhinaya and Aharya. But a lot still needs to be done for the further spread and popularisation of the form and its philosophy,” Mahanta told Metrolife.

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