PATACHARKUCHI, Oct 9 - On the occasion of Vijaya Dashami around 15,000 people gathered on the banks of Pahumara river yesterday evening to witness the traditional boat race at Medhikuchi ghat of Bajali subdivision under Barpeta district.
At a time when many traditional events are on the verge of extinction, people of no. 2 Medhikuchi village undertook this praiseworthy effort. In fact, they have been holding the boat race competition for more than 150 years now as claimed by some senior locals.
Before the sunset, the banks of the Pahumara river wore a festive look with the beautiful kohuwa � the harbinger of autumn � fluttering in the breeze on both the banks of the river and thousands of jubilant faces thronging to enjoy the rare event on the day of Bijoya Dashami. A large number of temporary vendors selling balloons and puja sweets also added colour to the event. The concrete bridge over the Pahumara river was full of people.
Local senior people informed that such boat races have been a tradition of the locality for more than 150 years now. But the villagers have been organising it in a systematic manner since the last five decades. A distance of 600 metres of river route was fixed for the competition.
Dipul Patgiri, an enthusiastic local youth, who has been involved in organizing the rare event for the last decade informed that the villagers since many years have been holding the event without prejudice against any caste or creed and, this has, strengthened the unity and integrity in the society. It has also strengthened the Hindu-Muslim relation, he said. He, however, expressed his unhappiness over the fact that the government has failed to take any proper step to encourage such an event. He appealed to the government to extend its help.
The race started from Member Ghat. The boats, at least 50-foot-long and in resplendent colours were powered by at least 50 rowers with specific attire on mildly flowing waters of the Pahumara river. With the kohuwa on both the banks of the river playing the perfect backdrop, the cheering crowd put an extra dimension to the competition. The rowers in colourful attires also provided a lyrical touch to the competition as they sang rhythmic songs playing �taal� while navigating their boats with ores. The rowers took part with full enthusiasm. The supporting audience shouted slogans on the banks for encouragement.
Seven teams, namely, Tazmahal, Tazmina, Moishal Bandhu, Maa Pagla, Mayur Pankshi, Maa Munni and Maa Parbin took part in this year�s competition that was held in various rounds.
�Maa Parbin� came first while �Maishal Bandhu� got the second prize in the competition.
Earlier, Manoj Baruah, spokesman of State BJP and Vice Chairman of Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board, formally declared open the traditional event by cutting the ribbon. He expressed the hope that unity among the people will be strengthened through such events and also praised the efforts of the organising committee for holding such an ancient traditional event, which is also a part of Assamese culture. Sadly, it is in the verge of extinction, he added.
The authorities also took precautionary measures to avert any untoward incident by deploying security forces along with a NDRF rescue team. The prize distribution meeting was held in the evening which was followed by a cultural programme. The day also saw immersion of Durga idols in the river.