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Manoj Kumar Das: The talented Khol player
- Dr. Jintu Sarma

February 19, 2020

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
- Bob Marley

Manoj Kumar Das was born on 21st August 1990 to Nalini Kanta Das and Lakshi Das in a small village called Ghoramarahati in the Sattriya town Barpeta. He completed his schooling from Barpeta Govt. Higher Secondary School and graduated from M.C. College, Barpeta, both of which are notable institutions of the town. Inspired by his parents, he took a deep interest in Sattriya culture, especially Khol Vadya from his childhood. He took his first step towards formal music training from popular academic institution, Sankardev Kala Kshetra Barpeta, in 1999. He then trained in Khol Vadya under the tutelage of Shree Jagannath Bayan, the chief Bayan of Barpeta Satra and successfully mastered as Gunin in Khol Vadya.

In due course as an alumnus of Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapith, Lucknow, he excelled as Nipun in tabla. Skilled in Awananddha Vadya, Manoj Kumar Das is a promising young talented artist. For his exceptional skill in Khol Vadya, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India awarded him the National Young Artist Scholarship Award in 2014 and Junior Research Fellowship in 2017. He has performed in many youth festivals under Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme of Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, in different places of India.

He has rendered commendable service as the chief instructor of Academy of Khol Vadya established by him in 2014 and has successfully provided training to around 200 students, including women from different backgrounds, who have represented these activities at the national level. He is also providing free training to young boys and girls belonging to socially and economically backward areas of greater Barpeta. He has worked as an assistant teacher for Khol Vadya and provided training to 8 trainees for the Guru - Shishya Parampara scheme organized by Sattriya Kendra, Guwahati. He currently works as a teacher of Khol Vadya at Sankardev Kala Kshetra, Barpeta.

In Assam as well as others parts of India, he has given numerous performances on Khol Vadya and Lok Vadya. He has won acclaim for his various performances in Sattriya and Folk programs in National Integration Camp organized under National Service Scheme (NSS), held in Andhra University in 2011. He presented a lec-dem on 'Sattriya Khol Vadya and Lok Vadya of Assam' in National Folk Art Festival held in Palakkad, Kerala in 2013. He participated in a program titled Dweep Bharat held in Lakshadweep in 2014 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Govt. of India. He has performed on several occasions such as National Games; National Youth Rally; National Seminar on Srimanta Sankardeva's contribution, Kochbihar; North East Youth Festival, Guwahati; Octave Festival, Allahabad; Sur Purbah, Kolkata, and Sattriya Sangeet Samaroh, Benaras etc.

To promote this rich heritage tradition of Assam, he authored his first book Khol Vidya (part-1) where aspects of the instrument are detailed. It was published in 2014 with the objective of helping the present generation with both theoretical and practical aspects of Khol. This book is already used as reference book by many universities for their performing art course. As a keen follower of Vaishnavism, Manoj is associated with the Satras of Barpeta, his birth place. He has completed a research project titled 'Exploration and Documentation of the Notation of Khol Rhythm, traditionally being offered before the altar in Barpeta Satra for the Last 432 years' under the scheme on 'Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India' of Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India and Sangeet Natak Akademi. He has published papers on Khol Vadya and Sattriya Lok Vadya in various magazines and periodicals.

Manoj Kumar Das is a recognized 'B' grade artiste of All India Radio, Guwahati, and has worked as an accompanying artiste in several audio albums. Das has directed five audio albums of Holi songs. Das participated in an international seminar held by Center for Heritage Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, in July 2018. In the seminar, his deliberation on the nearly five century old tradition of Sattriya Khol Vadya was highly appreciated.

For his sizable contribution and achievement as a Khol artiste in the state at this very young age, Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded him the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for the year 2018 in traditional music section. This is the first time that the Yuva Puraskar was conferred for Khol Vadya. Despite many obstacles, Manoj is engaging himself in the promotion of our heritage. I believe, one day Manoj will attain the highest goal in his field.

An asset for Sattriya culture, trying for preservation of the culture through his dedication and hardwork. Wishing him success.
  -  (Nov 10, 2023)

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