The President of India Droupadi Murmu conferred Padma Shri to Hem Chandra Goswami in field of Art from Assam in Civil Investiture Ceremony here today.
Born on 1st March, 1958, Hem Chandra Goswami passed his HSLC Examination from a local High School and then he took the bachelor degree in Arts and Crafts from Arts and Crafts Society of Guwahati, Assam.
From his childhood he was acquainted with the environment of satra, i.e., Vaishnavite monastery of Assam, where mask making is an indispensable trait. It was the great Guru Sankaradeva, who had innovated the art of mask making from bamboo splits which are invariably used in the Vaishnavite plays (bhaona) and dances (satriyanritya) performed in the satras(Vaishnavite monasteries)and namghars (village level Vaishnavite prayer house).
Goswami plays the pivotal role for the acceleration of the pristine skill from local to the national and universal context. Masks prepared by him are at present installed and displayed at reputed institutions like Dibrugarh University, Tezpur University, Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati; Vivekananda Institution, Guwahati; Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi; Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, etc., and in the museum of abroad like America, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, etc. In the year 2015 the Chief Curator of the British Museum T. Richard Blurton came to Majuli to discuss about the mask depicted in the Vrindavani Vastra preserved in the British Museum. He met Goswami to know about the mask depicted in that heritage textile piece of Assam, stayed there for five days and took back with him five masks which are now preserved in the British Museum. The masks were displayed in an exhibition entitled Krishna in the Garden of Assam which was held at the British Museum from January to August, 2016.
Goswami had delivered lectures on the heritage of split bamboo mask in different institutions of the country like Dibrugarh University, Tezpur University, Vivekananda Kendra: Guwahati; Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre for the Arts; New Delhi; Visva-Bharati: Santiniketan.