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Barak fest brings focus back on need for museum
Arindam Gupta

People thronging a temporary museum at the recently-concluded Namami Barak festival. – Photo: Silchar Staff Correspondent
 SILCHAR, Nov 28 - A breeze through the Australian glass lantern, a wooden locker, kerosene-run room heater, the ancient bunch of keys, a gramophone and other antique articles and costumes of yesteryears at the “Barak Museum” stall in the recently-concluded Namami Barak festival brought the focus back on the precious heritage of southern Assam.

Among the major attractions that drew thousands of enthusiasts of all ages, the makeshift museum also housed a 300-year old drum used by the Rongmei Nagas, the century-old Polo Challengers Trophy, the portrait of the last Dimasa king [last king of the Heramba Kingdom Gabindrachandradhwajanarayana (1813-1830) AD] and above all, the historical charkha (spinning wheel) used by Mahatma Gandhi during his visit at the DNNK Girls High School in 1921 which drew a massive crowd during the three-days of the festival here.

Sparsh Das, a student of class 1 was seen quizzing his mother about the microscope used by Nobel laureate Dr Ronald Ross to detect malaria parasite at the Labac tea garden which was also kept at the museum.

“I am happy to see these interesting objects,” said Sparsh while his mother Anamika Das was filled with awe gazing at the varied articles. Like many others inside the temporary venue, Anamika too felt that a permanent museum in the valley could facilitate the rich and rare collection of such historic objects, which would otherwise fade into oblivion.

Dr Ganesh Nandi, faculty in the Department of Visual Arts, Assam University, informed that as many as 11 communities including the Dimasas, Manipuris, Kukis, Nagas, Hmars and Bishnupriya Manipuris participated in the Barak Museum with their artefacts. Asit Baran Deb from Karimganj and Arun Kumar Das from Motinagar in Cachar district have come forward with their preserved collections that resonate the imminent need for a museum here.

In the words of Dr Amalendu Bhattacharjee, eminent folk litterateur, every region bears a rich history of its traditions which serve as a huge resource for the subsequent generations to seek inspiration and knowledge. “Long ago, teachers of Normal School here felt the need for a museum and came up with two idols and some manuscripts within a minuscule cubicle inside the school premises. The Namami Barak festival was organised with a vision to explore the prospects and potentials of the valley. Hence, a museum here would materialise the Government’s vision in the true sense,” Dr Bhattacharjee maintained.

Meanwhile, PWD Minister Parimal Suklabaidya who put his thoughts on the comments register kept at the venue said “the pulse of the people for a permanent museum was very well felt during the three-day festival. I believe the Government shall take a positive call on the rising demands.”

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