Jeevan Kite Festival - A Humble Attempt to Save the Brahmaputra
Jeevan Kite Festival (Sila Noi), the one and only kite festival of the city has entered into its 8th annual edition. The festive was first started in 2012, and is a part of the Brahmaputra campaign.
The founder of the festival, Suresh Ranjan Goduka, along with hundreds of young and enthusiastic volunteers from all over the state has attempted to uplift the face of the Brahmaputra river through this festival. This year, the festival saw a participation of more than 400 volunteers.
The festival, in the last 8 years, has come a long way. The festival which started as a 1-day-affair with a budget of Rs 30,000 has grown to a celebration of 5 days which requires a budget of nearly Rs 50-70 lakh. The festival has not only changed the look and feel of the banks of the river, but also brought people closer to nature.
The banks of the river Brahmpautra have largely turned into dumping grounds. The initiative behind the kite festival is to give people the idea that river banks could be used for various cultural and recreational activities, such poetry sessions, food festivals, film festivals etc, rock concerts etc. "This river is the backbone of Assam. We should utilize the potentiality of the riversides. We can use six months of a year for different activities. The main motive behind the festival is to bring the urban youth close to the river and make them aware. At the same time we try not make it feel like an awareness campaign, but a happy celebration to help the youth understand in their own language." said Goduka.
“It is a matter of shame that in spite of having massive potentiality, we have transformed the riverside into a mere dustbin and dumping ground”
According to Goduka, the riverside can serve massive winter economy for the state and also boost the tourism sector of Assam. He suggests that the riverside must be extensively used to cultivate vegetables, set up art galleries, and bring people together for talk shows or book reading sessions every weekend.
The event requires preparation of more 3-4 months. To clean an area spanning across 3 lakh sq feet is a tiring work itself and consumes a lot of time, the founder of the festival said.
"We face a lot of problem while taking permissions from the government departments. No Government body wants to take responsibility for the festival. But for the festival, we require permissions from several departments starting from Police, PWD, DC Office, Pollution Control Board, to Traffic and Fire Brigade. These works require a lot of time," added Suresh Goduka.
One can witness an array of kites of all colours, shapes and sizes in the festival. While the smaller kites are made by people of the city and the volunteers, the bigger ones are brought from cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
There are kites ranging from 10 feet to 30 feet which costs a whopping amount of Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000. These kites are sent to various international kite festivals. People can see kites made of both paper and clothes, and also kites which are lit during the dark.
Artists like Manoj Baruah and his violin troop, folk band 'Shukladwaj' and students from various city colleges will be performing in the festival this year. Workshops are held to teach people the art of Mukhaa making, which represents the rich culture of Majuli. A mock village of Assam along with a Naamghar has been created to introduce the urban youth with the Assamese traditions. A panel discussion, 'Brahmputra Round Table' will also be conducted around the theme of 'River Brahmaputra: Tourism, Skill and Cleanliness' will also be held.
Speaking about the identity crisis of the state, and the role of the river which is the lifeline, Suresh Goduka said, "Northeast has more than 100 tribes. Many tribes are demanding its own land and identity. The only common element for each tribe is Brahmaputra. In this vulnerable time, when the land is facing such a tough time, the river will act as hope and strength."
Late Bhupen Hazarika has rightly said, "মহাবাহু ব্রহ্মপুত্র মহামিলনৰ তীর্থ" (Mahabahu Brahmaputra maha milonor tirtha).