A spell of ancient Mayong magic in Pobitora rhinoland

From Our Correspondent

 GUWAHATI: The art of ancient magic (‘jadu’)from the erstwhile tribal kingdom of Mayong and the treasure trove of one-horned rhinos as well as the winged visitors flocking Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary have been blended to make Mayong-Pobitora area near Guwahati a most sought after tourist destination this winter.

And the ethnic food prepared in the tribal way, has added gastronomic flavor to the carnival of wildlife, ethnicity and ancient magic that got underway in the form of Mayong-Pobitora Festival from Friday. It takes just over an hour of drive from Guwahati along a smooth highway to reach Mayong, the place of magic and sorcery where, according to the lore, magicians (‘tantriks’) could cast complex spells to control everything that moves.On Friday, 101 ‘tantriks’ (‘bej’ in Assamese), some of whom claim to continue with the age-old practice, took out a colourful procession in Mayong raising the curtain on Mayong-Pobitora Festival. The cultural procession was participated by many ethnic communities adding varied colours to it, Assam’s minister for Forest Rockybul Hussain also took part in the process riding an age-old bullock cart. The procession was led by elephants in the front and the titular king of erstwhile Mayong kingdom Tarani Kanta Singha was riding atop one of the elephants.

Mayong was once believed to be the seat of sorcery where ‘tantriks’ could even make people disappear and cure complicated ailments through the power of their ‘mantra’.

It sounds unbelievable, but Assam was known as a land of magic as per some ancient literature and Mayong was mentioned as a strange place where people could do anything with the power of their ‘tantra, mantra’.

Mayoing-Pobitora Festival has been organised to highlight the tradition of magic and tantra indigenous to Mayong and the way the practice has been kept alive by some people from the area till date.

Bolen Saikia, an octogenarian from the area claims that there was a time when some of the ‘tantriks’ could help one find the location of a lost object with a mirror in the hand.

Even the image of the thief could be mirrored. He said some of the tantriks used to wield the healing baton to cure people from various diseases.

However, hardly any research has been done to probe deep into the traditional practice of tantra/magic of Mayong.

The festival has been organised jointly by the local people of Mayong, Moriganon District Administration and Assam Tourism Development Corporation basically to promote the ethnic traditions of tribal Mayong and the wildlife destination of Pobitora Sanctuary where over 80 rhinos are living in an area of about 38 quare kilometer making it the highest rhino-density area on the globe.

The festival has attractions like spot therapy by magician from Mayong, exhibition of historical remains of erstwhile Mayong kingdom and a taste of ethnic food.