Would you wanted a Divided Assam?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

'Assamese' in transition - Significance of our Naamghars

Dhekiakhowa Naamghar
Assamese society is going through a phase of transition. We are moving from the times of abundance to the times of scarcity. We are moving from a phase of harmony to a phase of competition. We are moving away from collective identity to individual identity. Like any phase of transition, it is a phase of chaos and instability.

There is no need to worry. We, as a society, can adapt to all kind of times if we are prepared, ready to adapt and understand the universal truth of continuous and natural evolution.

For a society to prepare and adapt, we need to get together, talk, share and make some action plans as a community. It is a team work. The more fragmented and nuclear a team becomes, the quicker the team disappears. There is a critical need for the Assamese society, or any society for that matter, to unite, group and collaborate for a better tomorrow in terms of economic independence, political independence, social development and overall progress in the standard of living. 

There are three critical pillars to this concept of getting together for adaptation, progress, peace and unity. 

Definition of 'WE' 

The definition of we is the first pillar. We simple mean everybody who considers themselves Assamese. If a particular age group, sub-community or gender is not coming ahead to participate, we have to do the necessary to include them. For instance, the young today hardly visit our Naamghars, and that is leading to stagnancy of thought in the institution of Naamghars. Absence of youth simply means absence of new ideas, which are essential for adapting to these times of transition.

Definition of 'Meeting Points'

The place of get-together is the second critical pillar. Which are the 'Meeting Points'? How much ever I think hard on this, the only possible answer that comes to my mind is our revered Naamghars. Naamghar is the most representative institution of the Assamese society today.

Naam Kirtana and a gathering at a Naamghar, AssamOur great Gurujona Srimanta Sankaradev had built this institution for people to get together, and participate in discussions with a pure mind and heart. It was the ‘Facebook’ of those times. There were groups having their own naamghars. Group members used to get together every evening after their daily jobs to sing the Kirtanas and other scriptures in the praise of the Lord, and then talk, discuss about current issues being faced and their solutions.

The institution of naamghar was built without any discrimination in terms of religion, caste or creed. Srimanta Sankaradev worked for a class-less society and instituted naamghar for everybody to  participate in the proceedings.

Although Naamghar is not a 'mandir' or a religious place of worship, yet it is an institution of purity and immense wisdom. A regular or frequent periodic visit to any institution of purity and wisdom will help us purify our thought processes from all thoughts and acts of evil, short-sightedness and maleficence (bad intention).

Definition of a 'Network'

The third pillar is coordination and communication. It is about building the network, a process for each naamghar to keep in touch. It is the link between all the naamghars. It is not necessary that all the naamghars will agree with each other in terms of their policies or other matters. They do not need to. We need heterogeneity of thought processes and action. What is however essential is the communication and information of what every naamghar is thinking, discussing and implementing. This will lead to collective growth through inspiration, learning and motivation from each other.

A network is easier today with the Internet and other media. For instance, every naamghar can publish a minimal newsletter about their point of view with respect to various problems, trends, happenings, and solutions, which then can be publicized through the Internet and Mobile network.

Last Words

There may be an argument saying 'what is the role of government structure' in taking a society or a community forward in these times of transition. I would say, Government is there to facilitate. As Mahatma Gandhi always stressed on a bottom-up model of development that starts from the smallest unit of a society, it is widely seen across the world that development comes to those communities or societies who are self sufficient from the bottom.

A meeting place needs entertainment to keep the spirits going. Srimanta Sankaradev had created such beautiful art forms like the Sattriya Dance, Bhaona etc just for that. We should perhaps discuss and include a few more entertainment options into the fold of the naamghars to include the youth and the current times.

Assamese society need to quicken their learning curve in terms of all matters. Assamese society need to develop the negligible private sector which is essential for economic development, creation of jobs and utilization of local skills and expertise. Assamese society needs to preserve its culture, language, identity and more importantly create unity in diversity. Assamese society needs to show a positive world out there to our next generations to build their confidence in taking on the world.

To do all this, lets start with the naamghar. Lets make the naamghar the smallest community unit of progress and development.

Lets us all say, Aha ami adda maru naamgharat..

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