The Importance of Satra and Namghar in the Greater Assamese Society: An Appraisal

Satra and Namghar are the two major religious institutions integral to the Assamese society. Both these institutions have immense contributions towards the growth and development of greater Assamese culture and society, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The Satra institution’s origin can be traced back to the time when Srimanta Sankaradeva initiated the Neo-Vaishnavite movement in the fifteenth century to propagate and spread the ideals of Neo-Vaishnavism (a sect of Hinduism). The Namghar, on the other hand, is a prayer house where the devotees assemble to sing the names of God. The primary trait of the Satra is the Namghar which is the common feature of every village, town and city of Assam. As a result, the Neo-Vaishnavism of Sankaradeva has become a vibrant religion. This paper is an appraisal of the significance and influence of Satra and Namghar towards the integration of the greater Assamese society. The fieldwork for this paper has been conducted in various Satras of Majuli, the largest river island in the world.