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Minoti Borthakur - Courage to fight the odds!

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, so sang Billy Joel. But when the going really gets tough, life tends to get disheartening, discouraging and everyday seems like drudgery. But once you make that breakthrough, you derive power in the truest sense of the term. Meet Professor Minoti Borthakur, who has not only proved the relevance of these words but is encouraging disheartened people to start dreaming and hoping once again.

Minoti’s story is one of courage and determination as she dared to fight a cunning and baffling disease like cancer, even when all doctors had given up hope, and emerge victorious. And in the process, she has set an example for others with her immense courage and faith in the Higher power. Her fight did not end with her conquering the disease for she has been encouraging people to live life positively besides providing support to cancer patients and depressed people. And to aid her in this direction, she penned her experiences while fighting the disease in the form of a book three years back.

There is good news for people of the northeast now. Minoti’s highly acclaimed book, Mur okhukhor ek bosor (One year of my ailment) has now been translated for the benefit of thousands of cancer survivors in Northeast India. Cancer has a high rate of incidence in the north-eastern periphery of the country, primarily due to the extensive use of tobacco and other oral stimulants.

The English translation of the book A Cancer survivor’s struggle and success was released recently at Guwahati by noted litterateur and Gyanpith award winner Dr. Mamoni Roisom Goswami, in the presence of veteran writer Dr. Hiren Gohain. Hailing Minoti’s efforts in providing support to hundreds’ of people afflicted by the dreaded disease, Dr. Gohain said, “Cancer patients have to undergo huge mental trauma and in most cases, the patient loses mental strength to carry on. Minoti’s book will encourage them to fight the disease and she will be source of inspiration for generations to come”.

A person who fought against the disease for more than a year, Minoti has been an epitome of strength for those around her. In fact, she had started meditation classes in her college when she encountered cases of depression, mental fatigue and low self-esteem among her students. She did not lose hope even after doctors of the famed Tata memorial Hospital gave up all hope of her recovery and instead, she implemented a strict regimen of meditation, yoga and a highly nutritional diet with ample doses of spirituality. She says, “In most cases, the patients and their families are unaware of the nutritional needs and cancer care needs of the patients. I have tried to include all these aspects in detail in the book”.

Stressing on the need for more support for cancer patients in the region, Minoti, who has been working with other cancer patients in the northeast, said, “Following its release in 2005 and the tremendous response of the people, a lot of patients from other States who come to the B. Barooah Cancer Institute for treatment have been asking for its English version. I hope the book would not only encourage the patients but also the family members and equip them with the necessary tools and mental strength to fight the disease”.

Authorities of the sole cancer research hospital of the region – the B. Barooah Cancer Institute – have hailed Minoti’s dedication towards the welfare of the cancer affected people of the region. BBCI Director AC Kakoti said, “Borthakur is a living example that nothing is impossible if one has the grit and will to achieve. She is closely associated with the cancer patients and we hope this book would immensely benefit patients from other North-eastern states”.

Minoti Bothakur retired as the head of the department of philosophy, Cotton College. She now runs a honorary counselling centre - “Minoti’s counselling centre” - where she imparts training in yoga, meditation besides imparting counselling to increase the mental strength of her clients.

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Aiyushman Dutta's picture

Journalist and Founder Secretary, Eastern Beats Music Society.


Kalpana Choudhury 's picture

Dear mam, Kindly contact me in my mail id...  I am suffering from breast cancer and m clueless how to get rid of it.  Please contact me. 
Priyanka's picture

Where can I get a copy of the book "Mur Okhukhor Ebosor" ? Please help

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A Bihu of hope amidst dejection, Garbhanga Forest

27 Apr 2012 - 2:15pm | Peter Alex Todd

Far from the hustle and bustle of Guwhati life and amidst ongoing big Bihu functions, a small Bihu function in Jalukpaham village, inside Garbhanga Reserve forest had swung the local tribal population into action in the day break on 24th April. A function perhaps the locals had never imagined in their wildest dreams and for sure perhaps someday this will be one of the sweetest memories in the history for these local people of Jalukpaham and Matang village. And for many aged people this Bihu celebration is the finest live entertainment they have ever seen in their life time. Most of the people have not even seen Guwahati, don’t know about the chief minister, but luckily some have heard about Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, however not sure what he does, dead or alive. These villages’ just 30 kms away from the capital of Assam.

A very newly formed club with locals of Jalukpaham and Matang Village, in the west Guwahati constituency,under the advice of Nayan Das, Bhadrashwar Orang, Primary Teacher of Jalukpaham LP School and few others propelled the formation of “Jaluk-Matang Navajagaran Younglong Sangha” and at one breath decided to organized the first Rongali Bihu Function for two days. In no time the idea got a practical shape and with little collection from the local people, helped by well-wishers in different ways the Bihu function was held. “I have worked in this Jalukpaham LP School for long time, just three years to go for retirement, I never thought someday a Bihu function would be organized here, few guys from the plains came here and we could motivate the people here” said Bhadreshwar Orang. His students later performed Jyoti Sangeet and dance to the tune of Jhumur, it was only the teacher who belonged to the Tea tribe. Yet it was passion for music and love that the performance stroked the right feeling, the feeling of love, respect and understanding one another.

Once the Bihu Committee got tired waiting for the Local MLA, Himanta Talukdar who was invited to the function, the president of the club inaugurated the function. These simple people had beautifully organized the dais on the bamboo stage with glass of waters, flowers, table covered with colourful faded bed sheets, and ziz-zag curtains hired from tent-house since to welcome since promise was made by the MLA to visit their place. The local people could hardly realise that villagers are valued only once in five years and since there is no schedule for any election, who cares. “The MLA told that he would come and give us some helping hand, but he didn’t come, we collected money from the villagers to organize this Bihu, prepared food for the MLA,” said Biren Taro, Cultural secretary.

Whatever may be the show must go on and in fact the show went to be a high voltage show which was not at all expected. In the late afternoon traditional games for children began, and for many, from jump, cock fight, tug-of-war and pani-par was totally new. Very strange the kids were playing for the first time. The only things they know here is to catch fish, follow their mother in the jhoom cultivation, climb trees or lazily lay in the stream when its hot. However the games were managed well and the organizers failed to provoke the very shy women folk to take part in games, from a safe distance they tried to study the game and laughed well when the kids were doing the cock-fighting.

After a long wait and uncertainty a jeep reaches the venue, a pair of loud speakers looked very majestic in the jeep was unloaded; a pair of small sound box, a pair of light and finally the generator “the soul” of the function, was carefully unloaded placed in the backyard.” Where is the diesel gallon?” one shouted and I got nervous for a moment only to find everything was well taken care of. I had already brought my musical instruments n the trekker ferrying my journalist friends and my singer friends.

It was a well wisher that had helped the sound system reached the spots and after all efforts had failed to convince many sound operators to send their minimum sound requirement to this place. “I am relaxed at last, thanks the sound have arrived”, says Nayan Das, one of the Advisor on the Bihu Committee, who had taken the responsibility of the sound. A vehicle reaching to Jalukpaham which is around 30 kms from Lokhra is no joke, specially during rainy season. It takes an effort and experience of a SUV driver to maneuver ones way through the Garbahanga Reserve forest. Thanks for the attitude shown by the government and forest department towards the tribal people living in the forest.

By evening time Bihu teams from Lokhra,Pathar Khama (Meghalay) and some other bordering places of Meghalaya, reached the venue for Performances, A group of journalist, Singers from Guwahati had reached the venue and explored the possibility to spend the night in the tree Houses that had been built for the guests. It was full of click opportunities and I believe no one had missed a single good shot. And finally Bihu performers rocked the stage amidst good gathering; the raw sound of music in the loud speakers echoed in the hills mixed with shrill noise of the crickets gave great effects and was shooting inside the forest. I hope the wild elephants must have liked the music and there was no report of Elephants creating trouble nearby and the axe of timber smugglers had fallen silent temporarily for that very day. After all a historic event was taking place and no wanted to miss it The forest guards on their way to camp halted at the venue to steal a look of the stage through the gatherings. Perhaps they were aware that being on duty they should not stay for long and casually ventured into the dark. But deep in their heart they know well what destruction is going on inside the forest. But who cares unless blood is extracted from the body or pain inflicted. However it is long story and ever one knows.

Now keeping away my negative feelings, what gave a great sense of joy was a group of youths from Meghalaya doing the Bihu Dance, though not fit for any big stage their spirit was mind blowing and specially when you see a Khasi guy beating the Dhol, who says “its nice to do Bihu dance” wearing a Jeans and a Khadi Kurta. Another Bihu team from bordering Meghalaya village gives another surprise, a young guy claded in traditional Bihu attire speaks out in English and then switches to Nagamese “ Ami laga to besi Bihu Najane, hole bhi na Bihu nachibo ahise,Apuni laga beya napabo” and than starts the Bihu. The people applauded their effort and the Bihu committee encouraged them to keep up their spirit and expected them to see in the near future.This was followed by Rabha Dance by women folk, Nepali Dance, Karbi Dance, few modern Assamese songs, Jhumur Dance, little comedy and all these ingredients made this Bihu more close to heart to me. For many old folks of the village seeing a Bihu dance was a first had experience. Who would not love to see peace among communities, see the progress of the deprived people, wants bonhomie in the border villagers, and not the least would want the forest officials to protect the forest. The Bihu inside the forest would be meaningless if the forest someday cease to exist. no powerful sound, no big artists, no high profile people, no big stage and no gorgeous anchor, and no chairs to seat, but still this is my best Bihu I have ever enjoyed in my life. Did I exaggerate?

Most of the people here have not even seen Guwahati, don’t know about the chief minister, but luckily some have heard about Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, however not sure what he does, dead or alive. These villages’ just 30 kms away from the capital of Assam. Though development is at its infant stage in these villages, the impact of globalization can be seen. Mobile phones though don’t have networks, it has become a possession for youths to play with it, click photos, to listen songs and record videos. However they are yet to learn the importance of being in this 21st century. But hoping this Bihu celebration will encourage them to do more activities that will help the people and kids to develop in every field. Amidst all joy I only wish that someday these people don’t have to exclaim with pain “how green were our hills” …….

AASU on hunger strike

17 Feb 2017 - 1:52pm | Sanjoy K Kakati

One and a half months have passed since the state started the new academic year. But the students gave yet to receive all textbook free of cost from the government. This has forced the All Assam Students Union to stage state side protest on Friday demanding immediate distribution of the free text books in the schools.

Hundreds of AASU activists in the district and subdivisional headquarters along with the block level are on a 100 hour hunger strike from Friday morning to mount pressure on the government to ensure immediate distribution of textbooks in all primary and high schools.

Talking to Assam Times, the agitating students said that they are well prepared to mount more pressure on the government if the government refuses to listen to the voice of protest.

AASU leaders and activists in Raha are also on hunger strike demanding immediate distribution of textbooks in the schools.

The participating AASU leaders have warned the  government not to downplay the issue involving millions of students in the state.

Bohagar Domahi at Barpeta

17 Apr 2010 - 3:05pm | Juthika Das

t is well-known to all that Bihu is the national festival of Assam. There is a saying that the word “Bihu” comes from the word of Tai language “ Boi- Hu”. “ Boi” means worship and “ Hu” means cow. And the full meaning of it is to worship the cow. And in the course of time the word “ Boi-hu” becomes as Bihu. Among the three bihus Rongali or Bohag Bihu is the festival of welcome of the Assamese new year. Bihu is the backbone of Assamese culture. It is the festival of happiness, love and affection for the Assamese people, specially for the younger generation. Rongali or Bohag bihu is celebrated for seven days. During these days the heart of the young girls and boys cheers up and blooms with tremendous joy and gaiety. They are awaiting for this bihu eagerly in order to get together and the weavers are also remained busy in weaving “ Bihuwan” which is the sign of hounour and love and affection for the Assamese people. The price value of these “ Bihuwan” or “ Gamocha” may be the cheapest one, but it is the symbol of honor and respect for every Assamese. Hence, the Assamese people feel pride by offering a Gamocha to the guest who comes to visit Assam and the honor of this Gamocha is far more valuable than anything else. All over Assam Bohag bihu is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. But Barpeta is exceptional one. Here Bohag Bihu is celebrated with Satriya tradition and Barpeta satra is the main place of this tradition. The age old tradition remained here hundreds of years. We the people of Barpeta cannot think of any festival without Barpeta satra.

Barpeta is called the Venice of east. At Barpeta Bohag bihu is called in our colloquial language “ Bohagar Domhi”. 15th century of Assam had witnessed the emrgence of a spiritual leader whose name was Srimanta sankardeva , a prophet, philosopher, social reformer, artist, musician, dramatist, poet, painter and linguist all combined in one, srimanta sankardeva like the effulgent sun radiated his luster to shine all over Assam and to transcend far beyond, he was acknoldged as the first representative and architect of the Assamese sub- nationality. Srimanta sankardeva and his great disciple sri sri Madhabdeva, laid the foundation of an organized and distinct form of Assamese culture and literature. These two gurus made the grannery of assamese culture full . And the great disciple of Srimanta Sankardeva, Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhabdeva established Barpeta Satra in 1573 AD in order to preach the Neo- Vaishnavite culture and “Ek- Saran- Bhagawati Naam Dharma”. Barpeta satra is enlightened by the light neo- Vaishnavite culture of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva and Sri Sri Madhabdeva.For the people of Barpeta, the ‘Kirtan Ghar’ or Barpeta satra is the main source of Bohag Bihu. The inhabitant of Barpeta united into the one thread of unity which bounded the people of Barpeta together. There is one culture as we can see in the midst of Barpetians. And that is satriya culture. Barpeta is a place of homogeneous culture, whereas Assam is a place of Heterogeneous culture. And all the people come to Barpeta Satra with a religious attitude. We canot see the youths of Barpeta here performing Bihu dance in the open field of the locality like other parts of the state. . But some organizations arranged bihu in the stage. And then the youths took part in bihu dance. Moreover it is also mentionable that they youths of Barpeta come to Barpeta Satra or kirtan ghar with a religious view, there is no chance of sexual urges here.

Bohag Bihu or “Bohagar Domhi is celebrated at Barpeta satra for seven days like other parts of the state. The first day is called here “Garu Domahi” or “ Garu Domhi”. It is observed like the other parts of the state. The next day is called” Bor Domhi”, as it is the first day of Bohag. In this day people strike on the foot of other people with the tree of “Hatisuriya”( elephant tree). And there is also a saying that by striking with the “Hatisuriya” the people also gets strength and can be able to work like the elephant. On this special day people at Barpeta also along with the other parts of the state, take bath with “Mah and Haladhi” and the Youngers take blessings from the elder by giving “Bihuwan”. After than the people of Barpeta proceeded towards Barpeta satra or Kirtan Ghar and knell down in front of “ Guru Aashan” for the peace or wellbeing of the society. It is already mentioned that all the festivals of Barpeta are satra based and without satra or Kirtan ghar it is incomplete. In this first day of Bohagar Domhi after the regular prasanga, one astrologer come and explain in detail how the ensuing new year will be passed in the state or country and also said about the good and bad sides of every Zodaic signs of every human being. During this time of Bihu along with “chaidhya prasangas” “ Gayan- Bayan, Gosha Kirtan, and ojapali “ are also performed at Barpeta satra. And during these seven days the “ Bansaras or Haties” performed Ankiya Bhaonas at “Tupar Chotal” in front of the main prayer hall( Kirtan ghar). Mentinable that the birth and death anniversary of the followers of Mahapurush Srimanta sankardeva and sri Sri Madhabdeva couldn’t be found properly. That is why the “ Tithis”( Birth and Death anniversary) of those followers are observed during these seven days of Bohag bihu and five days of Magh bihu and at Barpeta satra it have been perhaps observed during the time of Mathura Das Bura Aata, the first satradhikar of Barpeta satra. There is also a tradition among the women of Barpeta that in the evening of “ Bor Domhi” they used to collect vegetables( spercially pot-herbs) which is in our colloquial language called “ “Sathek Tola” .

Bohag bihu her at Barpeta ended in the seventh day. That day is called “ Naam Domahi”, because there is a great performance of “Thiya naam :” by the devotees of Barpeta which is rare to be found in any parts of the world. “ Thiya Naam” is held with the union of 22 haties, ( mainly means thul three haties- Dakshin Hati covers -6 haties, Nahati covers- 5 haties and Uttar hati covers – 11 haties). On that day thousands of devotees assembled together with a mind of unity and join in this famous “ Thiya naam” at Barpeta satra. This thiya naam is at first started in front of “ Dalan”( main entrance door of the satra). The devotees performed “ thiya naam” with geart cymbols and enjoy it fully. The heart of Barpetians enthralls with great devotion to lord Krishna as the compositions of the Thiya naam is the praise of lord Krishna. The devotees bring raw sugar on this holy day with aniseed and placed it at the “sarai” and take blessing in front of the kirtan ghar for peace and tranquility. Thiya Naam is also called “ Bir Naam”. There is a saying that this thiya naam is so called bIr naam because in the royal palace of king Bolli, the daityas sang song jumping and dancing. Hence as this thiya naam is performed standing and jumping mode like the daityas , this is also called “ Bir Naam”. The devotees here at Barpeta satra started the Naam in front of the entrance door under the shade of “ Chandra Taap” and later on enters into the satra campus singing Naam and at last knelt down at Mathar Chotal asking excuses to the lord Krishna and Guru dujana ( Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev and Sri sri Madhabdeva) for any omission and commission in performing the “Thiya Naam”.There is a common believe among the people of Barpeta that by performing this “ Thiya Naam’ they can be assured themselves that no evil power can be able to touch Barpeta, the second heaven of the world and this believe still made the satra a unique one.