Teesta Burir Gan & Sirua Bishua: Rajbangshi way of welcoming New Year

Posted by Kaahon Desk On April 14, 2017

In spite of the major debates on the origin and ethnic identity of the Rajbangshis, most of the scholars and historians agree that Rajbangshis originated from Koch, a tribal community belonging to the Indo-Mongloid race. Though when in Government census reports they were been shown as similar as “Koch”, they protested and tried to prove themselves as Hindus. They cited various Hindu Shastras and mythologies to prove their “Aryan” origin. This protest turned into a social movement called “Khastriya movement”, under the leadership of Thakur Panchanan Barma. Though anthropologically it is not proved that the Rajbangshis were originated from the Aryan race as their physical structure or biological features resembled the Mongloid stock of people, yet the fact cannot be rejected that much of their social customs had been sankritised while repudiating their tribal ancestry, to conform to their professed caste identity.

Teesta Burir Gan is such an old musical saga of the indigenous cultural practice of the Rajbangshis, involving a locally adapted mythological tale of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and sage Narada. All the women of a village perform Teesta Burir Gaan as a community celebration on the first day of the New Year. The newly married couple, Shiva and Parvati arrives on the Duars plain and Shiva leaves Parvati in an isolated hut in the dense forest to live by herself. Narada acts as a conspirator and misguides both of them by informing each of the couple about the other’s infidelity. Parvati takes a few women as her companions and searches for Shiva and then finally decides to jump into the river to kill her. Shiva also in the meantime did not find Parvati in her hut but when he finds her killing herself for him, he realizes his mistake and saves her while taking her in his hair.

This locally adopted tale though brings out how the non Brahminical socio cultural practices links their tribal past, yet show how Hindu mythologies have been imbibed in their cultural memories and thus shapes their ethnic identity. The rituals and the cause of this performance though again brings to the light the survival struggles of poor indigenous people amidst wild forest and changing course of river Teesta, as poor village women perform this narrative to please nature symbolized here as the rage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, while they were finding each other, so that their village is protected from the vagaries of nature and all the evil influences are pardoned with the end of the previous year. 

Rajbangshi village women to welcome New Year perform TEESTA BURIR GAAN as a community ritual

Sirua Bishua is again another performance marking the community celebration of the Rajbangshi community to welcome the first day of the year. This is a performance which is not connected to any religious politics involving identity; rather it is a blissful performance where the community engages in merry making. On the first day of the year, the Rajbangshi villagers welcome each other with colours (Sirua), symbolizing community brotherhood. Sirua Bishua is a musical theater based on this ritual of putting colours on each other. This is a musical dialogue between the brother in law and sister in law. The sister in law insists on playing with “Gulal or Abir”, the coloured powders with her brother in law, while the brother in law is afraid that his wife will be offended. This musical drama is a playful joyous celebration of the Rajbangshis on the first day of the year, “Pohela Boishakh”.

SIRUA BISHUA is a musical theater based on a Rajbangshi ritual of putting colours on each other on the first day of the year, “Pohela Boishakh”

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