Just tak dhooma dhoom dhum in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Oct 8: They come not only from the plains of the North East and West Bengal but even from neighbouring Bangladesh to reverberate the hills every autumn with just one victorious and ecstatic beat of joy - ''Tak dhooma dhoom dhum!'' The traditional dhakis (drummers) are welcome guests in this region during the Durga Puja Festival for the simple fact that there are no dhakis in the hills.

''Dhakis, who are an integral part of the Pujas, have to be hired from outside as we don't have dhakis in the hill areas of the North East except Tripura and Assam,'' Central Puja Committee general secretary J L Das said.

''We are poor and work as daily wage earners or drive rickshaws back home. But Durga Puja is the only time of the year that all of us eagerly look forward to for making some extra money by going to the hills to play the dhak,'' Mahadev Sabdakar from Coochbehar said.

Sabdakar and his associates have been playing the dhak in one of the city Puja pandals for over a decade now. He is among the numerous dhakis from the plains who scale the hills of the North East along with their associates who play other instruments like the dhol, kasi and shehnai every puja.

''And Shillong knows how to honour them,'' points out Naba Bhattacharjee of the CPC, which is the umbrella organisation of all the 162 odd Puja Committees in Meghalaya. ''Every year we organise competitions for them.'' ''Imagine what it is like when 100 odd dhakis beat the dhak at the same time in perfect unison,'' says Bhattacharjee. The unique and immensely popular drum-beat competition held every year is a major attraction during the Durga Puja Festival in the Pine City.

This year too, the CPC will organise the 'dhak competition' on the day of Maha Navami today at the Jagannath Mandir Puja pandal at Police Bazar here. Dhakis from various puja pandals in the city, will take part in the competition.

Besides gold, silver and bronze medals, attractive cash prizes also await the dhakis, the real harbingers of the boisterous Puja Festival. So, just tak dhooma dhoom dhum!

UNI

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