Batadrawa Project: An Innovative blend of traditional and modern culture?

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Posted in Assam, Culture, Featured

Ashif Shamim

“The characteristic feature of modernity is criticism: what is new is set over and against what is    old, and it is this constant contrast that constitutes the continuity of tradition.” Octavio Paz

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. It is changing politically, socially, technologically, economically, also as environmentally. This poses a big challenge for citizens to react accordingly. At times these changes are critically discussed and analyzed; at times it is subject to debate and discussion.

After all, most of the people don’t like change, and if their world is changing rapidly as it is doing today, they have a tendency to carry on to what they know and feel comfortable with. Although this might sound sort of a logical thing, it doesn’t yield anything. If we decide to maneuver forward, we’ve to embrace change. We are well aware of the fact that change is inevitable and therefore it’s impossible for us to bury our heads into the sand. Meanwhile, turning a blind eye to the progressive changes occurring in numerous areas.

Batadrawa Project: An Overview

A project which was initiated by the State government under the Central government’s larger initiative called “Assam Darshan” aims to develop the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardev Batadrava Than of Bordowa in Nagaon district of Assam as a place of tourist attraction preserving its history and cultural heritage for an estimated amount of Rs 188 Crore.

The entire project aims to embody the structure of a large tree or “batabrikkha” which has been regarded as a landmark project in glorifying the cultural ideology of Assamese people as well as the Vaishnava religion propounded by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev. Alongside it would also place the cultural ideology of the state into the world map further enlightening the identity of this wonderful culture to a larger audience.

What connects the Batadrawa Project with Modernity?

The aerial view of the proposed master plan, designed by the Mahindra’s Consulting Engineers projected an entire campus designed in the shape of a “boat tree”, a design that reflected the “batabrikkha”under which the great saint Sankardev used to meditate. The aerial overview of the entire campus structural design also projects its shape like a tree branching out.

While the proposed design of the Research Centre reflects “Dhol” which is an important musical instrument of the Satriya culture and the Kala Kendra’s structure reflects the “Khol” an instrument Sankardev is known to have adapted for evolving the tradition of “gayan-bayan.”

The other infrastructural designs, according to some critics failed to establish a connection considering the fact that the proposed building designs like the “Guru Asana”, Academic Building, Administrative Building, Herbal Garden and the YatriNivas did not exactly reflect the Vaishnavite Culture. They were of the view that most of its designs were more inclined towards the urban architectural designs which is a demolition of “Tradition over Modern culture.”

If we go by those standards one can never satisfy the wants and needs of all. The idea needs to be inclusive of the fact that a judicious blend of tradition with modernity must be positively welcomed considering the goal which most certainly intends to exhibit our native history to a larger audience.

If one decides to sit and debate over the fact that Tradition and Modernity can never go hand in hand, perhaps it would be almost impossible for any society to march towards a unified development.

A Demolition of Tradition over Modern Culture?

Recently, when the first-ever blueprint of the acclaimed ‘Batadrawa project’ was shared online it did receive a few mixed reactions. Most of the criticisms revolved around the fact that the Master Plan of this project was aimed at “Demolishing the traditional Culture.”

An initiative to signify and uphold the cultural heritage of ‘Bordowa’ through the implementation of a project that aimed at achieving national and international recognition as a tourist, art and research centre somewhere fell short to imbibe a holistic applaud as soon as the proposed blueprint along with a master plan was released.

Sankaradev was not just a religious reformer but also a social reformer. He practically founded the real Assamese Society. ‘Satras’ and ‘Namghars’ were real democratic institutions. The idea to restore and protect his birthplace through a project like “Batadrawa” is the least we can do to glorify the cultural ideology of Assamese people as well as the Vaishnava religion propounded by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev.

One reason behind these mixed reactions might be because of the fact that people who have conceptualized this project did not take into account the concerns of the local people who are well connected with the native culture.

While most of the people applauded this initiative, a few did critically observe the move to design certain architectural buildings terming it as a reflection of “Modern urban designs.” It is well and true of the fact that while a project is being implemented, it’s very important to involve certain decision makers who are well connected with the history and culture of this very region. The involvement of certain influential people having prior knowledge and are well equipped with the subject matter always needs to be recognised. A distinct gap of connectivity between an initiator and the influential certainly, at times leads to an uproar that eventually persuades us to question the morality of an initiative intended solely for development.







The writer is an unfeigned political buff; nurturing a dream to work as a “Political Strategist” someday! He can be reached at



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