Assam’s Hemoprava Chutia, Hem Chandra Goswami and Ramkuiwangbe Newme have been conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri Award for the year 2023.
Hemoprava Chutia (Art), Hem Chandra Goswami (Art) and Ramkuiwangbe Newme (Social Work) were selected in recognition of their respective contributions in the field of art, social work and public affairs from Assam.
Hemoprava Chutia – Padma Shri
“Sometimes a common woman makes a difference and then she becomes an ideal for the rest. Hemoprava aaideo is one such personality,” said daughter of Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala during a felicitation function at Sivasagar on August 30, 2018.
Hemoprava Chutia, who is also the recipient of Assam Gaurav Award, hails from the state’s Dibrugarh district, Moran. Hemoprova aaideo, as she is fondly called weaved the Bhagavad Gita on cloth in English. The fabric crafted with the writings of the holy script was inaugurated on December 5, 2021 by Satradhikar Shri Shri Pitambar Debo Goswami in Dibrugarh.
Hemoprava’s exceptional weaving skill has made her stand out of the rest and an ideal for the society for her work on fabric.
Hemoprava aaideo previously wove the Bhagavad Gita on cloth, a 700-verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. She completed the noble task in accordance with traditional rituals. Her fourth work is an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita on cloth. The sacred scripted cloth is approximately 280 feet long and two feet wide. This elegant work of art took her nearly three years to complete.
Apart from weaving, Hemoprava Chutia has written three well-known holy books: Gunamala, Naam Ghosa, and Mod Bhagavad Gita Mod. She wrote the Vaishnavite scripture 'Nam Ghosa' in 2016, which Shri Madhabdev wrote in Assamese between 1568 and 1596.
Hemoprava has earlier received several honours and recognition for her expertise in weaving. She has received the ‘Bakul Bon Award’, ‘Aai Kanaklata Award’ and state government’s ‘Hand-loom and textile award’ for her excellence towards weaving.
Hem Chandra Goswami – Padma Shri
Apart from being the first river island to be declared in 2006, Majuli has carved a niche for itself as a repository of Assamese art and culture. Many monastic centres or satras exist in the area, preserving and practising music, dance, and art.
The culture of making masks in Majuli's satras (monasteries), the centre of Vaishnava culture in Assam, would be incomplete without mentioning Hem Chandra Goswami.
Goswami, a native of the island's Samaguri Satra, is renowned for his skill in the area of makeup for Sattriya, the classical dancing style that saint-scholar Shri Shri Srimanta Sankardeva developed in 16th-century Assam. However, it is his contribution to mask-making that truly sets Goswami apart. Another form of art that Sankardeva introduced and Goswami accepted is the mask.
Since 1984, Goswami has operated a distinctive mask-making school in Majuli. It is not the only location in Majuli where one may learn how to make masks; one can also learn about Sattriya and Borgeet, which Shri Shri Srimanta Sankardeva also spread around the island.
Acclaimed nationally and internationally for making life-like masks, he has been also conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the year 2018. Be it the fiery Surpanakha or the fearsome Ravana, the masks with the contours, colours, hair and get-up gives chills to the viewers. Likewise, those depicting Narasimha, Hanuman and Garuda, with their finely etched features, while keeping the audience in awe, convey their personality emphatically. Such is the magic wielded by Goswami.
Ramkuiwangbe Newme – Padma Shri
Ramkuiwangbe Newme, a Naga social worker who has dedicated his life to the protection and preservation of the less well-known Heraka faith, has been chosen to receive the Padma Shri Award this year.
A native of Dima Hasao, Newme has acquired the title of Hero of Heraka by preserving and promoting the traditional culture of the Heraka people.
Ten primary schools were founded by Newme throughout his lifetime, and he promoted women's education. Even the Heraka religious text "Tingwang Hingde" was transcribed by Newme.
Haipou Jadonang, a Naga spiritual guide and political activist from Manipur, British India, founded the Heraka religious organisation. The veneration of the supreme god, "Tingkao Ragwang," was emphasised by the Heraka faith. Although this deity was accepted as the creator god in the old religion, he or she played a very minor role in daily life as one of many gods.
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