By- Utpal Sarma
There was a time when Bihu used to be different. There were lots of simple folk instruments all around the state of Assam and with the course of time several of them either extinct or forgotten by the people. Two of such instruments used in the Bihu culture of our state were Jeng Tong, drum made of Bamboo but without any skin of animal which is commonly used in all other drums and Bor Toka, an instrument made by dividing a solid bamboo piece to a specific area which gives a tak tak sound when both the sides are hit upon each other.
Noted folk artist Dwijen Gogoi from Cherekapar of Sivasagar District has been into the making of the Assamese folk musical instruments at a workshop cum sell point by named Gogoi Lok Badya Bhandar since past decade or so. Dwijen Gogoi is a renowned folk artist of the state and there are hardly any folk instruments of the state and which he does not know to play. His love for our folk music and tradition has always inspired him to do something for the Assamese culture which has finally taken the shape of the above workshop which he had started at his own house. Being an employee of ONGC, he has a limited time for his passion. Yet he devoted all him rest of the time towards research and modification of the Assamese folk instruments. Most of his creations had been appreciated all over the state.
Some of the unique creations of him are consisted of the concave shaped dhol, pepa made of cow and goat horns, Kakoi comb used not only in our folk culture but by the nachanoi or ballerina as a part of their hairstyles and so many more. This time he has created a giant Jeng Tong and a Bor Toka, both of a length of 27 feet. He has used Lothou and Dolo, two local species of bamboos for making of the instruments. Generally both the instruments are made for single person. The purpose of the making of the both instruments so big is as explained by the artist himself is that, “There are 27 districts in Assam and these instruments symbolize the unity of our state”. Gogoi has always tried to make something different which reflects his love for the state. Last time he had created a 12 feet long pepa (bamboo flute) and the other year a 12 feet long another bamboo flute.
Dwijen Gogoi has been given recognition by various organizations for his contribution to the Assamese folk music. He was given life long achievement award by the Asom Sanskritik Mahasabha in 2010, Cultural award by Ganga Gomoti Brahmapurta Lok Utsav Samitee, in 2011 at Barakpur(WB), 3rd place in Lok Silpi competition in 2011 at International Trade fair in New Delhi and many more.
Gogoi has been contributing to the Assamese folk music and culture through his sincere efforts over the past years which is really incredible. A number of local youths have also found a way of employment being engaged as skilled labour at his workshop. His instruments are the first choice by all the leading folk cultural groups of our state. In his journey, he is well supported by his better half and children. May his journey continues and our state keeps receiving his dedicated services.