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Naw – Khel : The Annual Boat Race Of Sualkuchi 2011

August 30, 2011
Apart from it’s silk Sualkuchi (also known as The Manchester Of The East ) is also popular for its annual boat festival.Sualkuchi is among the places where this indigenous sport still survives.This race is organized to commemorate the death anniversary of Srimanta Sankardev ( 1449 -1568) .He was a scholar -saint and a great social-religious reformer.  Srimanta Sankardev is considered as a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam.In the year 1965 a rowing competition committee was formed not only to revive this old age tradition but also to strengthen the harmony ,unity and integrity amongst the people belonging to different cast and communities of the area. Both Hindus and Muslims participate

in it with equal enthusiasm.

A View Of Mighty Bhramaputra From Babaji Parbat Gondmow Assam Tourism Cottages Sualkuchi
We had planned for this in advance .Tuesday is a working day for us so to adjust the work load we worked overtime for the past few days.I had contacted Kishore Bharali  a young energetic and extremely helpful member of the organizing committee through a cell number provided by the regional language newspaper .He told me that the race would start at around 2 in the afternoon.He asked me to give him a call once i reach Sualkuchi.Our destination was just an hour away from Guwahati. As we started early from Guwahati ,we had some time in our hand to visit this hilltop named Gondmow ,a tourist spot just three kms before Sualkuchi.The view from the hilltop was a pleasant surprise .Later at Sualkutchi we came to know that very few people know about it .
Saraighat Bridge Guwahati : A View From Gondhmow Cottages Sualkutch
The day was probably one of the most hottest day of the year .The Sun was too bright so we had a very clear view of  Saraighat Bridge .We left the place after ten to fifteen minutes .
 The lanes of Sualkutchi are very narrow and are often used more by pets than by the people.
 I walked most of the road while Chandan drove very slowly .It was my job to clear the road by patting away these beautiful creatures .I missed my kids ,they would have loved to help me. 
  Kishore gave us directions through the phone .After initial greetings he took us to the house of this wonderful couple Mr .Hemchandra Bharali and Mrs Dipali Bharali . Mr . Bharali had served for Govt as an  Asst . Director Of Sports and Youth Welfare Dept .He is the key member of the race committee .He told us a lot about this race .What i understood from him was that the idea of  this race is based on the principles of Sankardeva who was a great social reformer. All the existing communities/tribes have different festivals of their own to observe. This race  is a common event  that can be enjoyed by  all the people irrespective of their caste ,community and tribe .Because this year Eid fell on the same day as Sankar Dev Tithi there was no participation from Muslim community .Number of participating boats were very less this year because of that.
Women used to participate the event before but not anymore because of lack of interest .How sad. According to Mr. Bharali another worrying and alarming reason of less participation was the changing level of the depth and banks of Bhramaputra river . For the last few years the water has been shallow and not enough for using bigger boats he said.After some nice  refreshment offered by Bharalis  we joined this procession which lead towards the venue . Can you locate me ?
 All of them sang Naam ( devotional songs ). I have got great video clips that i will upload on You tube  and update the link to this post at a  later time.
 The chief guest a high official of State Bank Of India ( a co sponsor of the event) opened  the event.
 The venue , the banks of the river Bhramaputra was packed with the spectators as well as the participants.We saw TV Crew of  some of our popular regional TV channels .
 This is cameraman Manab from NE Tv news channel. He was busy adjusting his camera but spared a moment to smile for my picture.
 Colorful audience .
 Anna influence was noticeable here (my non Indian friends might not know about Anna ,they can check the link  if interested ) . Many of the participants wore Main Anna Hun (I am Anna )Caps .
 Each boat had either a coconut or some fruit plus incense sticks lighted on their boats.
On the left side the committee was having a tough time hoisting the event flag because of a sudden occurrence of strong wind.The wind was so fierce that it caused big ripples on river water and my camera too fell of my hands. The volunteers tried their best to retain the tent but that too finally  fell .
 We saw women running back to their houses ,the reason was to collect the washed clothes from clothesline . But soon they joined back .
 Boats started taking positions .There were several rounds of race.The wind was not favoring the event but the participants were least bothered.
 The cheerful crowd roared every time a new  rounds started .
 I no longer took pictures .Here is a video clip for you to see one of the round.The clip takes little time to appear on the post .
After spending  more than two hours we  decided to head  back to Guwahati so as to avoid the expected traffic jam once the event was over. We had such a great time there .
One final shot from the venue of this plane which was about to  land at   Guwahati airport .

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76 Comments
  1. it's awesome to see the event through ur photos … every state or even community have their own celebration n its nice to know n share them … that's the magic of blogging :)sorry i too couldn't locate u !!"Naw-khel" true it's similar to snake boat race in kerela … easter part of india is very similar to southern india – in eating habits too !

  2. °º♫°º✿º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.Paisagens lindas de um país místico e interessante, gente alegre e bonita.BOM FIM DE SEMANA!Beijinhos.Brasil°º♫°º✿º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.

  3. Kavita, I picked you out in that photo of men–you, on left side of crowd, right side of photo.You must have an engaging and enthusiastic personality, for I can 'hear' you cajoling the Peeps to pose, or move this way or that. Your photos are–well, they seem to put me right into the pictures.And once again, with descriptions and running dialogue you keep me and all the other peeps reading with great interest.I SO enjoy myself on your blog. Many thanks for taking us with you on these mini vacations.PEACE!

  4. very interesting!!!….you have presented the whole concept and the experience in a detailed way…..

  5. Santa has left a new comment on your post "Naw – Khel : The Annual Boat Race Of Sualkuchi 20…":Beautiful photographs, and really well written….

  6. Arti :yes,the place was full of energy and enthusiasm.Thanks .Kavita Rawat : aapki tippani aur follow up ke liye bahut dnanyavad .Margaret Cloud :Thank you so much .Karan Agrawal : hey,nice to see you Karan .Thanks for coming by .Sujatha Sathya :it is customary in Assam to gift Gamosa to your family and friends .Smiles at Mr. Bachchan thing .Thanks.Vinod Arora :thanks for your kind words .Phivos : thanks for all the appreciation .Insignia :yes ,there is a lot going on over 'Dam on Bhramaputra Issue'

  7. Veerubhai : thanks a lot for your views .Sharmila :this event used to be much bigger previously .But we had fun anyways.The person with sun glasses is me .Thanks .Magia :thank you my friend .Steve E : you are so kind Steve .Thanks for all encouragement .P.N.Subramanian :i hope that you do visit NE .Thank you so much.Onkar :it is a lesser known boat race ,that is why i thought of sharing it.Thanks.Haddock:nice to see you again H .Thanks.Santa : sorry ,by mistake your comment got deleted so i reposted it as anonymous comment.Thanks a lot for your visit and i checked your blog .it is awesome.

  8. What a click!! Amazing blog! Glad I landed here while blog hopping! 🙂

  9. wow..nice pics…and i thought Manchester was the name of Faisalabad :P… thanks for sharing these wonderful themes and places which we are not able to visit on our own …

  10. this is a new information for me , I heard about the boat race in Kerala, but this is something new and I enjoyed readying your this post. Thanks a lot बधाई !!आभार विजय ———–कृपया मेरी नयी कविता " फूल, चाय और बारिश " को पढकर अपनी बहुमूल्य राय दिजियेंगा . लिंक है : http://poemsofvijay.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-post_22.html

  11. I had a chance to visit the Kerala boat race when I was in Coimbatore, but I missed it due to my laziness. Now I feel for it! Anyways, your picture blog has inspired me to visit it sometime in the future, and I hope to.Destination Infinity

  12. A very informative post with beautiful photographs. Thanks.

  13. These itineraries is not really a shame not to reward, my reward for this wonderful story is a simple sentence you are brilliant! Good morning! how are you? Here's how promising the first yellow leaves of autumn fell in front of your eyes and let these my words. So as promised at the beginning of summer. so i have done. I returned again with good old friends. You like to read because of the allure of your system when it posts. And then we see here, again, more often than they do now. I wish you all the best and enjoyable weekend

  14. Splendid Narration. Wish I could take you to our boat race… Nehru trophy boat race…in KeralaIt is more bigger and mind blowing..

  15. I know I am late to comment here but I had read it on my reader when it was published.So koi gila shikwa nahi. :DBut it is an amazing race. I particularly liked the enthusiasm of people including yours.It's very nice to see that Anna has reached there too.P.S.- I haven't uploaded pictures of Nighoj till now. Will do so very soon.

  16. woww kya baat hi..told ya..u r better than many journalists..dunno y u insist on being a surgeon..

  17. I somehow missed this post till now. Excellent pictures! I caught your face!Every time I see Assam through your lens, I am struck by the similarity between Kerala & Assam.

  18. Hey lady, it’s been a while. I hope everything is okay with you and that you had an awesome weekend! Just thought I'd stop in for a minute to say hello.The photos are awesome!Have a terrific week!

  19. Superb lovely presentation.Fantastic pictures and video.I am enchanted at your blog.Many many thanks to you.Please,find time to visit my blog also.I have followed your blog.

  20. I agree with Balan. There is a lot of Similarities between Assam and Kerala. Your posts always remind me of something familiar. 🙂 Lovely Pics and a wonderful post as usual. 🙂

  21. Hello, nice blog you've got here, happened to come across it by chance, and loved it, now following you 😀 lovely pics truly…

  22. wow it feels really good to now that you belong to such a colourful country interwined with beautiful customs and such diverse people.. loved it

  23. I'm wondering if that's you just under the umbrella with the green veil? What a fun day you had!!! Thank you so much for sharing this special event with us. I'm up to my ears in stuff to do, but I just had to stop by. I'm so glad I did.

  24. Awesome…this is truly a race to follow! Your images as well as the narration were apt and informative 🙂

  25. its thrilling to watch this piece on photo-narrative.i could digitally get the smell of the place and the people. All because of you – how you put it up – the pace of narrative matching the life style of the people and the place.I liked the Durga puja North east pictures as well. You may visit my blog and enjoy a different video feel of durga puja organised far far away from the happening place east India…yea, its Ahmedabad, Gujarat waking up to drummers beat, priest's chanting and lipsucking Bengali weakness for food court menus, going hand in hand with Evening Gala Cultural Programs by newbees as well as celebrities. This time we had celebrated Lopa mudra to entrall the audience. http://indian-writer.blogspot.com/

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