The “Mahabahu”: Lifeline of Assam

Assam is a diverse state with multiple cultures, language, ethnicities. Various people from different communities, tribes have migrated and settled in Assam since centuries. Though people belong from different communities and tribes, they altogether have become a part of the larger community called Assamese.

The people of Assam and the river Brahmaputra goes a long way. The Brahmaputra River is entwined with the everyday life of the Assamese people. Much more than a river, The Brahmaputra provides a point of confluence and assimilation for the different people and cultures of Assam thus shaping people’s lives for centuries.

The name Brahmaputra meaning ‘son of Brahma’ is fierce, powerful, and at times unquiet. It is the only ‘male river’ in the Indian sub-continent, the river meanders through Guwahati, giving north-eastern India’s largest city a breath-taking riverfront.

Brahmaputra River originates in Talung Tso lake in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo. From there it meanders across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges and enters Arunachal Pradesh where it is known as Dihang or Siang. It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as the Brahmaputra, before emptying itself into the Bay of Bengal.

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, a famous singer, a film-maker par excellence has immortalised the river through his unforgettable songs and music. He has written songs that narrates the joy and sorrows, creation and destruction, love and hostility of the river Brahmaputra and other tributaries of it.

মহাবাহু ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ মহামিলনৰ তীৰ্থ
কতযুগ ধৰি আহিছে প্ৰকাশী
সমন্বয়ৰ অৰ্থ….
সুদূৰ কাণ্য ভোগজৰে পৰা
বাৰভূঞাঁ আহিছিলে,
সেই বংশতে শংকৰদেউ
ইয়াতে জনমিলে,
মৰুৰ দেশৰে আজান ফকিৰে
মধুৰ জিকিৰ ৰচিলে,

Mahabahu Brahmaputra
Mahamilanar tirtha
Koto jug dhori ahise prokashi
Samannayar artha
Sudur Kanna kubujare pora
Barobhuyan ahisile
Sei bangshate Sankardeve iyate janamile
Marur deshare Ajan Phakire
Madhur jikir rachile

This song gives us a picture how the Assamese race and culture have been formed through the amalgamation of various people belonging to different communities.

Bistirno parore asankhya jonore
Hahakar sunio nisabde nirobe
Burha luit tumi burha luit boa kiyo

This song is a reflection of how powerful and fierceful is the mighty Brahmaputra. Sometimes it plays the role of a creator and in some other times it acts as a destroyer. The river irrespective of its unpredictable nature, has shaped the lives of Assamese people. The mighty Brahmaputra is infact the perfect embodiment of the pilgrimage called life.

The best time to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the river that takes on a menacing posture during monsoon is from October to April, when the myriad sights of the river-the sunset and the sunrise, the twittering birds flying over it, the boatmen ferrying passengers across or the fisherman patiently awaiting to catch their lot is simply irresistible.