Hawa Mahal, the home of Pratima Pandey Barua

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on January 2 visited Gauripur town in Dhubri district to attend the ceremonial handing over of the authority of ‘Hawa Mahal’, built by Prabhat Chandra Barua of the Gauripur Royal Family, and which was the residence of late Pratima Pandey Barua, the doyen of Goalparia folk music, by her family members to Assam government for its restoration and conversion into a museum.

Located on the bank of river Gadadhar, the construction of Hawa Mahal was completed in 1914, costing a total of Rs 3.2 lakh at that point in time. Assam government paid Rs 15.20 crore to the family members of Pratima Pandey Barua for parting with the ownership of their ancestral property.

Addressing a public meeting correlating with the event, the CM said converting ‘Hawa Mahal’ into a heritage monument and a museum would be an appropriate tribute towards the ‘empress of Goalparia Lok Sangeet’ for her extraordinary works in the field of art and music. Stressing that the lack of scientific approach in preserving ‘Hawa Mahal’ and items associated with was leading to its gradual decay and destruction, the chief minister exuded confidence today’s formal handing over of ownership would ensure the structure with great historical significance would receive its due care and attention from now onwards.

Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his gratitude towards the family members of Pratima Pandey Barua for their generosity, as parting with ancestral property is never an easy decision for anybody.

Referring to ‘Hawa Mahal’ as the place from where Goalparia folk music spread far and wide across the country, the CM said the Assam government would ensure the sentiments of the people of Gauripur would be taken care of, while developing the premises.

He said the aim was to complete the renovation and restoration by December 2023 and open ‘Hawa Mahal’ for the public from January 1, 2024 onwards.

The CM also spoke on the life and works of Pratima Pandey Baruah. Despite being born into a royal family, she preferred to live life like that of the common public, the chief minister said, adding her music was a reflection of her simplicity and extraordinary personality. He specifically referred to her observations of the relationship between mahouts and elephants, which she depicted through her musical works.

Stating that a community cannot thrive for long if it severs its ties with its history and the past, the CM appealed to the residents of Dhubri district to rise above religious and ethnic compartments and unite under one umbrella for the preservation of the area’s rich and varied indigenous beliefs and culture.

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