Doul Mahotshav (Holi) of Barpeta Satra and its Holi Geet (Songs)
Doul festival is a famous festival in India. Apart from the rest of the country, it is also colourfully celebrated by the people of Assam, especially by the people of Barpeta. During the Doul Utsava the hearts of Barpetians (people of Barpeta) are filled with festivity and joy. It is a festival of colour and happiness. Doul festival is a great source of happiness among the people of Barpeta. During this festival, the people of Barpeta forget their sorrows and agonies and celebrate it with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm. The festival is also called “Holi” or “Fakuwa.” Celebrated in the months of Phagun and Chot, when spring descends and the world is filled with new green leaves on the trees, the flowers bloom, birds sing sweet songs, the gentle wind blows carrying the natural fragrance and everything in this world changes offering a a beautiful panorama. And it is in this sweet moment that the festival of Doul Utsava of Barpeta is celebrated.
Holi Geets of Barpeta are remarkably popular and are embedded in the heart of every Assamese. These Holi Geets are exquisite compositions in praise of Lord Krishna. People from different places visit Barpeta Satra to see the Doul Utsava and take part in the festivities.
Doul Utsava was started by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankaradeva after his great chihna jatra and he wrote some Holi Geets too. One of his most famous Holi Geets goes something like this:
“Range phagu khele chaitanya banamali/Duhate phagur gundasi chanta murari.”
At Barpeta, Mathura Das first celebrated Doul Festival in the model of Vaikuntha (heaven) because Doul Utsava was first celebrated in heaven. Thereafter, Doul Festival has been celebrated with satriya parampara (traditionally) till today at Barpeta Satra. Barpeta Satra is also known as Dwitiya Vaikuntha Puri (second heaven).
Doul Festival is celebrated for three to five days. The three-day Doul festival is called “Burha Doul” and the four or five-day Doul is called “Deka Doul.” According to the tradition, the four-day Doul is held on the Purnima (full moon) of the month of Phagun and the three-day Doul is held on the Purnima of the month of Chot.
The first day of the festival is called Gandha or Banhutsava. It is an important day on which Vaishnavas bring nal, khagari and ekara for meji. In the evening, Mahaprabhu Doul Govinda and Kalia Thakur are brought out from manikut ghar to mathar chotal with Gayan Bayan. Mahaprabhu is then brought near the meji and after the lighting of meji, Mahaprabhu takes seven rounds around it. It is called meji puoa or magh puoa (people believe that with this festival winter is over). Atach baji (fireworks) or phanuch are the main attractions of Gandha. People of Barpeta dance with colours and joy during this festival.
Mahaprabhu is brought to jagmohan ghar after meji puoa and in a sacred moment at night, Mahaprabhu is brought to doul ghar having walked around the seven steps (sapta thak) and then the people of Barpeta sing the Holi Geets with great enthusiasm.
“Phagu khele karunamay/ananda kumara devaradur lav akeli phagur bihar. (Madhabdev)”
The second day is called Bhar Doul. The Vaisanavas have naam-prasanga at jagmohan ghar. On that day after completing the morning song, ojapali and gayan-bayan is held. Dhuliya Nritya is also a memorable show which is held during these days.
The last day is called Phakua or Suweri. In the morning, Mahaprabhu is brought out from jagmohan ghar and is placed inside the kirtan ghar. At noon, Kaliya Thakur and Mahaprabhu are again brought to mathar chatal, and the people of Barpeta shower phaku guri with joy. Holi Geets and its echoes are spread all over Barpeta.
“Aji range range akakar/aaha bhai khelo sabe/mili prane pran
Aaji Barpeta bardhame chouishe phaguure/abir chandan badanate
Aaji basanti kino rang dhaliche/parane parane nabasi haran jagiche.”
On this memorable day, Mahaprabhu and Kaliya Thakur are seated on a beautiful dola and as soon as Mahaprabhu Goxai reaches from Baradi Satra, the Vaishnavas bring the Mahaprabhu to Kanara Satra with a view to have heketa. In this jatra, many people assemble and sing Holi Geets .
“Aaji khele holi range brindabane gopa gopi sabe nache phakur anande”
Mahaprabhu returns from Kanara Satra. As Lord Krishna is not permitted to come in by Goddess Lakshmi after his return from the house of Ghunucha, Mahaprabhu is prevented by the Vaishnavas with four bamboos in front of Kirtan Ghar. These four bamboos are divided among three hatis – uttar hati (two bamboos), na-hati (one bamboo) and dakhin hati (one bamboo). After breaking these four bamboos, Mahaprabhu walks around Kirtan Ghar seven times. Thus, after seven days with Ghunucha, Lord Krishna returns to Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi defeats Lord Krishna and after being defeated by Lakshmi, Lord Krishna gives Rs 300 and then is admitted into Kirtan Ghar. Similarly, the bhaktas of Mahaprabhu fine him Rs 300 and bring Kalia Thakur to Bhaj Ghar or Monikut.
“Sandhya samayat kari aanek utsava/Doular bhitar goiya pailanta Madhava.”
And in this manner, the famous Doul Festival of Barpeta comes to an end.