DOUL MOHUTSHAV is Holi of Assam

Celebrations Doul Mohutshav

Barpeta is renowned in the historical map of Assam and 90 kilometres northwest of Guwahati. It is also known as “The Land of the Satra” and of great religious importance even today.


The heritage and culture of Barpeta district is predominated by the remarkable work of the great Assamese renaissance figure, artist, painter, lyricist, social reformer, dancer, sculptor, playwright, composer, philosopher and Sanskrit scholar Mahapurush Shrimanta Sankardeva. It was he who laid the foundation of Assamese culture and heritage in and around the district. Subsequently his disciples namely Madhabdeva, Haridev, Damodardev and their devotees built on the good work of Sankaradeva.


Therefore, it is said that Barpeta is the hub of “Vaishnav” culture of Assam. All traditions and culture are based on 600 years old Vaishnav philosophy and surrounded by a 550 year old Vaishnav monastery of Barpeta called ‘Barpeta Satra’. The earlier name of the Satra was Barpeta Than. It was the largest and powerful Satra of Assam.


What is a Satra?

Satra is a religious monastery, storehouse of art and culture which was established by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankerdeva, Madhavdeva, Damudordev and their disciples in Assam (1449-1568 A.D.). It is the place where resides Guru (Sattradhikar), the chief of the Satra (spiritual head), Dev Naam (chanting of Krishna’s name) and Bhagat (devotee).

Barpeta town is referred to as the Dwarka and Mathura of Assam. The Satras that are seen in Barpeta district bear testimony to the great Assamese reformer, Yogi and cultural exponent Srimanta Sankardeva and disciple Shri Madhabdeva. Although the Satra institutions were established for the propagation of Vaishnavite faith, with the passage of time, these institutions gradually transformed themselves into open universities to become all-embracing socio-cultural centers. They covered numerous subjects including education, music, dance, sculpture, drama, fine-art, ivory-works etc.


Barpeta Satra is one of the many satras in Barpeta district. It is a unique place of Devotion. Different festivals are celebrated by people of Barpeta, esp of Barpeta Satra, one of which is Doul Mohutshav. The whole Satra wears a different colour especially during Holi. People from different places visit Barpeta Satra to see Doul Utsava and take part in the festivities.


Doul Festival is also called ‘Holi’ orFakuwa’. This festival occupies a special place for the people of Barpeta. During the “Doul Utsava” the hearts of Barpetians are overwhelmed with festivity and joy. It is a festival of colour and happiness. Everyone sings a unique form of chorus song, called Holigeet, during the festival which originated in Barpeta Satra and after that spread throughout the state.


During this festival the people of Barpeta forget their sorrows to celebrate it with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm. In the months of “Phagun” and “Chot” spring comes when the region is filled with green leaves, flowers bloom, birds sing sweet songs and a gentle wind blows with fragrance.

Inside Barpeta Satra 

At Barpeta, it was Mathura Das Bura Ata, a follower and disciple of Mahapurush Sri Sri  Madhavdeva, who took responsibility of Barpeta Satra as head of the organisation (Satria), and first celebrated Doul festival in the model of Vaikuntha (Heaven) because it is said that Doul Utsava was first celebrated in heaven. Thereafter, Doul Festival has been celebrated with Satriya Parampara (traditionally) till today at Barpeta Satra.


It is Barpeta Satra which is called Ditiya Vaikuntha (Second Heaven) like Puri in Odisha.


Doul festival is celebrated for three to five days. The three day Doul is called “Burha Doul” and four or five day Doul is called “Deka Doul”. According to tradition the four day doul is held in the month of “Phagun purnima” (full moon) and three day Doul in ‘Chot Purnima’ (Full Moon).


The first day is called ‘Gandha’ or ‘Banhunsava’. It is an important day on which Vaishnavas bring nal, khagari and ekara for meji. That evening Mahaprabhu Doul Govinda and Kalia Thakur are brought out from Manikut ghar to mathar chotal  (courtyard of the satra) with gayan bayan. Mahaprabhu is then brought near the meji and after alighting the meji, mahaprabhu takes seven rounds around it. It is called meji puoa or magh puoa.


Atachbaji  (fireworks) or Phanuch  (flying lantern) are the main attractions of Gandha. People of Barpeta dance with colourful, joy and gaiety. Mahaprabhu is brought to Jagmohan Ghar after meji puoa and in a sacred moment at night Mahaprabhu is brought to Doul Ghar walking around the seven steps (Sapta Thak). Then people of Barpeta sing this Holigeet -


Phagu khele karunamay

Ananda kumara

Devara durlava keli

Phagur bihar. (Madhabdev)


Holigeets of Barpeta are remarkably popular and enthral the heart of every Assamese. These holigeets are exquisite compositions in praise of Lord Krishna. Doul Mohutshav was started by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva after his great work ‘Chihnajatra’. He wrote some holigeets too, one of the most ones being - 


Range phagu khele chaitanya banamali

Duhate phagur gunda sichantaa murari


The second day is called Bhar Doul. The Vaisanavas have naam-prasanga at Jagmohan Ghar.   After completing the morning song Ojapali  Gayan-bayan is held. Dhuliya nritya (dance) is a memorable show which is held during all three days.


The last day is called Fakuwa or suweri. In the morning Mahaprabhu is brought out from Jagmohan Ghar and is placed inside the Kirtan GharAt noon Kaliya Thakur and Mahaprabhu are again brought to Mathar Chatal (courtyard of the satra)and the people of Barpeta shower phakuguri (colours) with joy. Holigeets and its echoes are spread all over Barpeta for example -


Aji range range akakar

Aha bhai khelo sabe mili                                              

Prane pran aaji

Barpeta bardhame chouishe phagu ure

Abir chandan badanate

Aaji basanti kino rang dhaliche

Parane parane naba siharan jagiche

Doul Mohutshav 

On this special day, Mahaprabhu Gosain and Kaliya Thakur are seated on a beautiful Dola (palanquin). As soon as Mahaprabhu Gosain reaches from Baradi Satra, the Vaishnavs bring three Mahaprabhu to Kanara Satra with a view to have Heketa (a type of wild gram). In this jatra, many people assemble and sing holigeets for example -


Aaji khele holi

Range brindabane

Gopa gopi sabe nache

Phakur anande


Mahaprabhu returns from Kanara SatraAs Lord Krishna is not permitted to come in by Lakshmi after his return from the house of Ghunucha (inside Kirtan Ghar), Mahaprabhu is prevented from doing so by the Vaishnavas who make four bamboos in front of Kirtan Ghar.  These four bamboos are divided among three that is Haties-Uttarhati-two bamboos, Nahati-one bamboo and Dakhinhati-one bambooAfter breaking these four bamboos Mahaprabhu walks around kirtan ghar seven times.


Thus, after seven days with Ghunucha, Lord Krishna returns to Lakshmi. According to tradition Lakshmi defeats Lord Krishna after which he gives Rs 300 and is admitted into Kirtan GharSimilarly, the Bhaktas of Mahaprabhu fine him Rs 300 and bring Kalia Thakur to Bhaj Ghar or Manikut.


Sandhya samayat karia anek utsava

Doular bhitar goiya pailanta Madhava.


For centuries the people of Barpeta Satra have been celebrating Doul Mohutshav or Holi every year. The festival showcases cultural richness and tradition of the region. It fills the hearts of all the people of Barpeta with fervour and colour.


And finally, in this manner, the famous Doul Festival of Barpeta comes to an end.


Author is a Research Scholar, Centre for Studies in Philosophy, Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh, Assam


To read all articles by author


Also read

1 Teachings of Sankaradeva

2 Sastras of Majuli pictures

3 Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalashetra

Receive Site Updates