Sattras are one of the unique features of Vaishnavism in Assam. Sattras in Assam are basically monasteries which were established to propagate neo-Vaishnavism. In 15th century, the first Sattra was founded in Majuli in Assam. Garmur Satra is a large village located in Majuli of Jorhat district, Assam with total 524 families residing. It is considered a prominent holy site and was established in the year 1656 AD by Jayaharideva. The tourists visiting Majuli Island should enter this bamboo hall of masks. Myriad kinds of masks basically on Hindu mythological characters like Narashingha, Hanuman, Ravana, Rama and many more are displayed.
The king, however, did not grant their appeal. He, instead, patronised Lakshminarayana by placing him as the head of a newly built Satra which came to be known as the Garmur Satra in which a new idol known as Vamsigopala or Vamsivadana was installed. The ambience is solemn, much like that of an ashram-a monastery. Bamshi Gopal Dev, the chief preacher of the Vaishnava cult in eastern Assam, is the guiding spirit for the way of life for the pontiffs and the apostolate of Garmur Sattra. Raasleela is performed with great zeal and enthusiasm during autumn. Majuli is known the world over in academic circles for the Sattras which have preserved Vaisnavite culture. Sankardeva gave classical songs, dances and dramas and a philosophy to the common people over five hundred years ago; a visit to the Sattras, especially on festival days like Janmashtami or Rasa will inform any tourist that Sattriya culture is an inexhaustible source of joy. The dances are colourful and spectacular and they can be unfailing sources of delight as well as subjects for research and investigation. Sattriya culture developed mainly at Majuli, Bardowa, Barpeta and Madhupur. This Vaishnavite site in Majuli houses many ancient articles and artifacts which help people in getting a deeper insight to the religious beliefs of the people here. Locals show the eternal love story Lord Krishna and Radha. There are many more festivals that are celebrated on this island. They have the Ali-ai-ligang, which symbolizes the beginning of the paddy sowing season. Then there is the tribal festival called the Bathow puja,this is to worship Lord Shiva. As the autumn comes to an end, people here have a huge fair called the Paal Naam which takes place in the Auniati Satra. This is where the famous Apsara dance is performed.
The structure of bamboo made room also attracts the tourists experiencing the mask making process and artists’ creativity. So it is an add-on attraction for the globetrotters visiting Assam. There were two Garmurs before—the great and the little Garmur. Though both of them were located side by side, they had independent identities. While theBor Garmur (the great one) was following the celibate order, the little Garmur allowed marriages. Only during the 20th century, the two Garmur sattras merged into one. The satra is maintained in a clean and tidy manner and the solitude of the place imparts peace to one’s mind and soul. The satra houses many valuable possessions like utensils made of silver and ivory, wheels for elephant carts, sculptures of Umber and many other ancient literary manuscripts.
On your visit here, you must try the local food. A typical Assamese cuisine includes Khar, Tenga, Laksa and different variety of rice. Locals also say that you must have the Saul cereal and the pitha. Majuli is very well connected by waterways and roadways. The tourists can take a ferry to reach the Garmur Satra and also avail taxis or buses which carry people to this location.
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