Let’s emm aay: Back to Mati Akhara

TINAT ATIFA MASOOD

The Gurujona. Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev, the architect of present-day Axom, who lived up to a 117 years is believed to have been so physically fit that he swam across the River Brahmaputra when it was in full spate. When he was at the tol or his school, he practiced yoga and that is how he came up with the Mati Akhara.

While learning the graceful nuances of Satriya a couple of years back, my Guru, Late Jibanjit Dutta taught me a few of the over hundreds of Mati Akhara and kept reiterating that this is the grammar of Satriya. They were tough steps but worth the effort.

Dr.Mallika Kandali, the renowned Sattriya danseuse says, “In Assamese, generally Mati Akhara means exercise done on the ground. The Sattriya dance training begins with these Mati Akharas. After completion of all the Mati Akharas, the dancer can be taught the individual dance numbers of Sattriya. Mati Akharas are foundation for the learners to make a healthy physical, mental and spiritual set-up which is very necessary for a classical dancer. It is worth mentioning that some of these Mati Akharas are similar with some yogic postures or asana (based on yoga Shastra), which help the learners to maintain a physical and mental discipline. For example – “chakrasan” of yoga is similar with the thiyo lon of Mati Akhara, which helps to make the back strong and the body light, which is essential for the dancer. Again “dhanurasan” is similar with the jur kamitona of Mati Akhara, which makes the body active, strengthen the thaighs and help to remove extra fats from belly areas. Besides these many Mati Akharas have yogic quality, which help the learners to shape their body from all sides. It is worth mentioning that Mahapurush Sankaradeva, the architect of Sattriya dance was a great exponent and expert of yoga, who studied Yoga Shastra thoroughly.”

It has been a couple of years since I have been associated with Swayan, an Approach, a collective of like-minded professionals. We started with a WhatsApp group, thanks to Satyen Mahanta, who thought we could do bigger things when we join hands. And he was so right. We started tinkering on the idea that we need to take Gurujona to a world platform, more for his teachings and ideals and everyone in the group vouched for it. The whispers got louder and the eager voices reverberated across the globe.

So this year, when Dr. Navanil Barua suggested we go for Mati Akhara on International Day of Yoga, we had to agree; it was too good an idea to refute. Everyone chipped in their own way; Navanil da made sure we got the permission for the Geetamandir playground, Debojit Goswami ideated on the T-shirts, some members got the sprouts, the tea, biscuits, fruits and Satyen Mahanta oversaw that everything was in order for the morning of 21st of June. Enthusiastic members, friends, associates arrived at the venue sharp at 5am. The media houses made sure they didn’t miss a thing and so they too arrived dot on time at the venue. It was a wonderful sight as everyone, donned in bright yellow Tees listened in rapt attention to Dr.Mallika Kandali Baidew, following her in step as she demonstrated the graceful Mati Akhara. They’re not easy and hence the importance of these asanas for every person desirous of a strong, healthy body.

Swayam has made a small yet mighty effort in the right direction and now they plan to walk the whole path! Ideas are pouring in already and the exercise to take Mati Akhara to the next level has already begun! More power to all the members and participants without whose support the event wouldn’t have been possible.

My pranaam to Gurujona for gifting us priceless anecdotes for a healthy life!

Tinat Atif Masood

Tinat Atif Masood

Tinat Atifa Masood is an Actor, Director, Producer, Script-writer, National-level emcee, Voice-over artist, Writer, Poet, Counsellor, Philanthropist, blogger, Dreamer and a lover of people. She is based in Guwahati.