Festival gains foreign following

Devotees from across the globe reach Guwahati for cultural event
(From left) Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Sajan Mishra and Rajan Mishra. File pictures
Guwahati, Feb 24 : It has taken just two years for the Kameswari Dance and Music Festival to win an international following.
No wonder, when the annual even begins at the Kamakhya temple this Saturday, among the audience will be a sizeable number of foreigners, some of whom will fly in from the US.
The performers this year include flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, vocalists Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra and dancers Raja Radha Reddy and Kumkum Mohanty.
For Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra, this will be the second time at the Guwahati event.
Assam’s very own flautist Prabhat Sarma and his troupe are also on the performers’ list.
Though the festival turns only three this year, the traditions it has been inspired by are from the ancient Ahom era.
Ahom kings usually sat in the courtyard of Kamakhya, listening to devotional songs while dancers made the portico their stage.
The tradition came to a halt for unknown reasons.
“It was in 2007 that danseuse Sonal Mansingh visited Kamakhya temple as a devotee. She met the members of the Debutter Board and requested them to organise a show at the temple where she could perform. We were overwhelmed by her gesture and the idea of reviving the Kameswari festival came to our mind. The festival was an instant hit in the first year and we decided to make it an annual affair,” Bhabani Charan Sarma, the adviser of Kamakhya Debutter Board, said.
Between 2007 and 2009, the festival has gained such popularity that more than 10,000 people are expected to be part of it this year.
A number of devotees from foreign countries have already reached Guwahati, unwilling to miss even the excitement before the festival, Sarma said.