Goalpariya Lokgeet: Journey of a Genre Blog 4: about the Mahuts..

Goalpariya Lokgeets are known as Mahut songs-songs of the Mahuts, the elephant tamers. (Refer Blog 2: Genre Description).

These Mahuts and their companions did not belong to any special community or caste. They were from Bodos, Garos, Rabhas and the Nepalese from the hills and the Muslims and the Rajbangshis from the plains and sometimes from the other neighbouring states or districts of Assam. The social laws were very peculiar to the forests, where Mahuts had to work, i.e. elephant herding. In the forest a man was not known by his caste or community. When a man would prove his courage and skill he received recognition as the leader of a elephant hunting band. The others would follow his instructions and went out on their adventures with his blessings. Preparations for the daring operations started at the end of the rainy season and at the beginning of autumn. The operations continue throughout the winter and cease with the beginning of summer. The brave Mahuts start the long journey back home, back to peace and affection of their families. But once again at the end of the rains and the appearance of the typical autumn cloud racks, the Mahuts yearn for their excitement of the forests, the life-and-death struggles. They would wait anxiously for the call of the Mahaldar, the man who leases a portion of the forest and brings in the Mahuts to hunt for him.

Mahuts were from the poor economic background who had to lead a very tough life ignoring all kinds of climatic hurdle. They would work for the elite class of the society. Their work was always a matter of risk and uncertainty. Little carelessness could lead to certain death. These Mahuts along with the work, on the other hand, had to complete their social responsibilities also, would get married but would leave behind their families once they get calls from their owners to go to the forest.  The call of the forest was appealing.

Therefore it is said, when the clouds roar in the autumn, they do not promise rains. But the Mahut’s wife feels the pang of imminent separations and she sings-what do you do o’ my Mahuts of the tusker..?   

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