Transmutative Visual Culture Of Folk Festivals : A Study And Exploration Of 'Magh Bihu


  • Anusmita Das Indian Institute of Technology
  • Utpal Barua Indian Institute of Technology


Folk festivals in India are related to agriculture and productivity. The social manners, customs, habits etc. are the principle elements with which these festivals are integrated. In Assam, Bihu serves as the most important marker of cultural assimilation that unites various indigenous groups and all such diverse constituents of Assamese nationality. It is a unified form of the folk songs, dances, musical instruments of the various castes, sub-castes and tribes of people, the natives of Assam. As a form of performing art, folk festivals have always been an important part of culture and community life. Historically and traditionally rooted in an indigenous culture, it provides sites for meaningful social connectivity and exchange. In present times, the celebration of folk festivals like Bihu has taken a new dimension leading to the emergence of new vocabularies of celebration veering towards public design. These festivals have taken a particular artistic and designer profile that exhibit the influences of various cultural elements. This study was undertaken to explore and understand the anatomy of this newly configured popular display of cultural elements that has given rise to new vocabularies in Design and Visual Culture in an Urban/Rural setting. This provides a new dimension for Design thinking in Visual Culture where the vernacular practices of art and craft are brought into dialogue with the transmutating needs of modern cultural demands. It further leads one to analyze and observe how the artifacts associated with a folk festival reinterpret their symbolic meanings through various inter and intra cultural interactions over time.   

Keywords: Local identities, Local cultural heritage, Creative design process, Art Technology and Visual Culture