Friday, August 19, 2011

History and present...all in a name

Recently I got to know that Monk's forefather...Bagh Hazarika...fought the Mughals in the battle of Saraighat for the Ahom king. Bless the soul who actually did all the research. He is related to Monk's Aunt through marriage.

My forefather from my paternal side, Azan Pir Sahab, who hailed from Baghdad, and who I rather romantically hope, had a connection with Bagh Hazarika in the larger canvas of societal intercourse alas only came to Assam in the 17th century.

An interesting thing to note is that the Ahoms came to Assam from Yunan province of China via the Patkai Ranges and first settled in Burma. Then an exodus to Assam's Brahmaputra Valley established their kingdom under King Sukaapha in the 12th Century. The Ahom dynasty established one of the most exemplary administrative services in addition to carrying out an envious task of merging cultures of the settlers and the indigenous people. People were given official titles based on their occupation/designation hence Hazarika or “Commander of 1000 foot soldiers" was once such title (generally hilarity ensues in our circle of friends when my husband defends his station with this quip and frankly speaking I am the most painful bully he has to reckon with). Similarly Saika, Chaliha, Borua, Bez-barua, and others were few other titles conferred to men holding administrative positions under the Ahom kingdom.

A few centuries later the 5 Pirs (one of them Azan Pir Sahab) from Baghdad who settled in Dibrugarh and other upper valley reaches of Assam, now called Upper Assam, married into the Ahom families. Incidentally Azan Pir Sahab was a Sufi Syed. That can perhaps explain why the current day Syed Diaspora is not exactly a hijab wearing, prayer beads flaunting fanatical lots. Literary and cultural discourse and dabble have long been the tradition of the Syed Community. And yes music somehow is embedded in the DNA of the entire community. Almost everyone sings like a canary, literally and figuratively.

Today Assam witnesses a harmonious co-existence of people of various ethnicities and religious beliefs. The beauty lies in the culture of Assam like the women wearing Mekhlas(Assam’s traditional drape and highly coveted at that) for a wedding as a guest or even as a bride and enjoying the distinct taste of Pithas (pan cakes and savouries) and Bora Bhaat (sticky rice).

And when one may ask what’s in a name after all (I being a “Syed” and Monk being a “Hazarika”), I could say well loads of history in our case where some 10-12 generations down monk and I happen to get married. I guess more research is necessary and I so hope I can get down to it.

Adding a little sattire...will I preen around like some displaced half breed princess?...darling I did that anyways with or without history!!! :D