Bishnu Rabha Award 2019 Conferred on Kumari Laitjonam Ebampisok Devi & Reba Kanta Mahanta

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The eminent Manipuri dance exponent Kumari Laitjonam Ebampisok Devi and renowned mask artisan Reba Kanta Mahanta were confered with the Bishnu Rabha Award 2019 by the state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a befittingly held Bishnu Rabha Divas programme, which was organised by the State Cultural Directorate and Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council at the Tahsil Maidan in Rangjuli under Goalpara district, on June 20.


The award carries a cash amount of Rs 2 lakh, a certificate and an angavastra.

Born on April 19, 1935, Reba Kanta Mahanta, who has earned wide popularity and reputation in Sattriya dance, Ankiya Bhaona, Khol playing and Nam Prasanga, has been working indefatigably to develop and preserve the traditional art of mask-making in the state. His masks have been procured by distinguished museums for display like the Indian Museum, Kolkata; National Museum, Washington, U.S.A; and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. In 1989, he participated in the National Exhibition and Workshop on Masks organized by the Crafts Council of India. The masks prepared by him during the workshop were procured for display in the national museums of Russia and Japan. Assam received the second position for the tableau designed by Mahanta in the Republic Day Parade of 2003. The theme of the tableau was based on the mask-making traditions of Assam. Hailing from Sivasagar district, Reba Kanta Mahanta, who has created over 4,000 masks, was also a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2014.

On the other hand, Manipuri dancer Laitjonam Devi has enthralled the audiences with her various folk dances like Eswai Nritya, Krishna Nritya, Moirangsai Nritya, Nimai Sanyasi, Yogi Bhesh, Rasleela Nritya, Naitam Nritya and others. She was conferred with the gold medal by the Manipur government in 1990, Tombi Devi gold medal in 1990, the gold medal of Manipur Sahitya Parishad in 1998, besides receiving many other awards and certificates for her contribution in the field of dance. The dancer has also been enlisted under the Silpi Pension of the Assam government.

The cultural programme, held to commemorate the 50th death anniversary of Kalaguru Bishnu Prashad Rabha, also saw the felicitation of eight well-known persons for their contribution to arts, literature, culture, sports, etc.
“Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha shaped the greater Assamese identity and worked tirelessly to establish Assamese culture at the world stage. His creations reflected folk culture and traditions of diverse ethnic groups of the State and he cemented the bond between these diverse groups while enriching the Assamese cultural landscape,” the Chief Minister said on the occasion.

Stating that only through awakening the artistic instincts within oneself could lead a person to attain a truly peaceful life, Sonowal said that Bishnu Rabha propagated a humanistic outlook of living much like Srimanta Sankaradeva, and that the young generation must be made aware about the teachings of those great personalities by teachers and parents to establish a society based on human values.

Calling for unity among all sections of people in the State, Sonowal urged the young generation to herald a new era of peace and development following the ideals of Bishnu Rabha and make Assam one of the best States in the country by working cohesively to achieve rapid economic development.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Cultural Affairs Naba Kumar Doley said that the endeavour of Bishnu Rabha to break the societal divides and fight for the oppressed sections of society while bringing societal reformation must be emulated by all. Rabha’s life was a glowing example how art and culture could strengthen the bond of unity among the people of the State and galvanize them to strive for the State’s development, he added.

Media adviser to the Chief Minister, Hrishikesh Goswami said Rabha revolted against all wrongs in society and he always acted as a strong voice for the weak and oppressed sections. Rabha brought about social reformation through his artistic works and the young generation must follow the ideals of this great thinker and activist to take Assam to greater heights, he said.

Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council CEM Tankeswar Rabha and Dudhnoi MLA Dipak Rabha also spoke on the occasion.

Prantik Deka
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