Bayans drum up a record

Titabar (Jorhat), Jan. 6: The rumble of 14,833 khols that reverberated through this Upper Assam town today is likely to echo in London too.

Exactly as many bayans played the instruments, tapped their feet, bobbed their heads and danced in unison to set the rhythm for an entry into the UK-based Guinness World Records.

Their 15-minute rendition today of the first part of the Utha Sahini taal created by the 15th century socio-religious reformer Srimanta Shankardev has already made it to the India Book of Records.

A recording of the event is being sent to Guinness as part of the record bid. And who else to lead the pack but Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who proved it today that he could not only dance Bihu but play the khol as well.

Gogoi inaugurated the show by playing the khol not once but twice ' once from atop the makeshift platform and then coming down to the ground, on which stood row after row of artistes draped in white dhotis, kurtas, seleng sadors and white turbans, to play in front of them. He told the gathering that he was speaking not as a chief minister but as the MLA of Titabar.

"Once this goes on air it will attract the attention of the world and will spread through the record books the great philosophy of peace and brotherhood Srimanta Shankardev had propagated in his lifetime," Gogoi said. "This is a proud moment not only for the people of Titabar and Srimanta Shankardev Sangha that has organised this mammoth show but the people of Assam and the Northeast as a whole."

The 21,000-square metre ground on which the artistes played was aptly named the Samanway Kshetra as there were around eight Muslims from Morigaon district and five persons from Arunachal Pradesh, apart from the Vaishnavites, among the 14,833 artistes who performed at the event. The highest number of artistes, 1,310, was from Sivasagar district.

Then there were the hundreds of artistes from Guwahati and Biswanath Chariali who had to be turned back owing to lack of space.

"We could not accommodate everyone. Guinness had asked us to gather 11,000 people to play any instrument to break the record made by 10,000 artistes playing the tabla together," Srimanta Shankardev Sangha publicity secretary Prasenjit Rajkhowa said.

People from all walks of life had congregated at the venue. Krishna Kinkar Deka, superintending engineer, Oil India Limited, had come all the way from Venezuela when he heard of the event.

Nearer home was BSNL junior engineer Krishna Kinkar Neog of Jogibheta Path, Jorhat. The youngest were all 12-year-olds while the oldest was 83-year-old Prafulla Saikia.

Guinness record holder Abhijit Baruah, who was here as a reporter of India Book of Records, egged on the artistes to sing the official state song, Mur Apunar Dex, and create an impromptu record but the attempt was not recognised.

India Book of Records adjudicator Ankita Borthakur gave away the provisional certificate and said the actual one would reach within 10 days.

Ankita told The Telegraph that it was likely that the grand show would be given a place in the Asia Book of Records, as the India Book of Records was affiliated to it.

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