JORHAT, Nov 11 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today inaugurated the three-day Majuli Raas festival at Garamur Mini Stadium in the Brahmaputra river island district.
Festivity related to the Raas festival has been organised across Majuli river island in satras and at pandals and will continue for three days, though unofficially the festivities will go on for about a week.
Majuli, it may be mentioned, springs into festive gear on the occasion of Raas every year since the festival began 178 years ago in the hallowed satras. Plays depicting different stages of Lord Krishna�s life are performed throughout the night and continues till the crack of dawn.
A Majuli district administration official told this newspaper that speaking at the inaugural function, Sonowal said that Majuli is a divine place and whoever comes to the river island during the Raas festival receives blessings from Lord Krishna.
He stressed on the need to build a society based on spirituality and moral values and urged the people of Assam to lead a life guided by the ideals of Lord Krishna, the official stated.
�Great personalities had spread the light of their wisdom in the society through spirituality and the upcoming generation must imbibe those moral lessons to find true happiness and contentment in life,� Sonowal opined.
Calling upon the people of Majuli to set an example of hospitality before the visiting tourists, Sonowal, who is also the Majuli MLA, said that Indian culture was based on the motto of �Atithi Debo Bhava�(The guest is God), the official informed.
�Majuli�s natural beauty, legacy, cultural heritage and history must be preserved and the people of Majuli have a major role to play in this regard,� the Chief Minister observed.
Saying that people should not allow their human births to be wasted, Sonowal urged the people to commit and contribute to the society and live their lives by the motto �Work is worship, duty is God�.
Referring to Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala terming of Assam�s culture as �Krishna culture�, the Chief Minister said that the greater Assamese cultural identity is based on the image of Lord Krishna and his teachings, the official stated.
�If we can realise the true essence of God�s teachings, then we can take steps for preserving the Earth�, Sonowal said. The Chief Minister also inaugurated tented accommodation for tourists that had been set up by the Assam Tourism Development Corporation at the Raas festival venue at Garamur.
Sonowal also unveiled a map of 58 Raas festival venues in the Brahmaputra river island. Along with it, he felicitated representatives of 58 Raas festival organising committees of Majuli at the programme.
ATDC has set up a total of 100 tented accommodations at Garamur, Jengraimukh and Kamalabari in Majuli.
The official said that at today�s function, Garamur Soru Satra performed a colourful dance form of Maharaas. The dance performance depicted Lord Krishna�s Raas Leela with the Gopis of Vrindavan.
Later in the evening, the Chief Minister also inaugurated the 179th Raas festival at Dakhinpat Satra, which is the oldest Raas festival organised in Majuli. He also attended the Raas festival at Uttar Kamalabari Satra, among others.
State Minister of Cultural Affairs Naba Kumar Doley, Lakhimpur MP Pradan Baruah, Tingkhong MLA Bimal Bora, ATDC Chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah and the Vice Chancellor of Majuli University of Culture Dr Dambarudhar Nath were also present in the function, among several other prominent personalities, the official informed.
It may be mentioned here that from this year onwards the State Tourism Department has promoted the Raas festival of Majuli at the national and global level through extensive campaigns in different media platforms like print, electronic and social media.
The Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) has collaborated with popular social media site Instagram this year to reach out to more tourists within the country and abroad for the Majuli Raas festival.
A website www.majuliraas. in of the Majuli district administration was launched by the Chief Minister on October 30 via video conferencing from Dispur.
The objective of the website is to project Majuli as an epicentre of satra culture and a seat of mythological tourism globally by making available all kinds of information on the festival. This time, Raas will be performed in 58 places across the Brahmaputra river island district, including at venues outside the satras.