Rongali Bihu is fervently awaited Jatiya Uhshav for all Assamese over the globe. Here non-resident Assamese also wait eagerly with excitement to celebrate Rangali Bihu every year in Calgary. Finally the excitement was over after celebration of Rongali Bihu on April 15, 2017 in Scandinavian Community centre by Assam Association of Alberta (AAA) with pomp and show. Around 150 + people attended the event. Unlike usual Rongali Bihu this year’s event was lavish, elaborate and dignified. They also had delegates and guests from Indian High Commission, Ottawa; Member of Parliament, Ottawa, city of Calgary Mayor, members from Rotary Club Calgary and executive committee members from Calgary Marathi Association. Participants were not only within Assamese culture but also from various other cultures like Peruvian, Chinese, Columbian, Scottish etc. This Global way Celebration of Bihu probably happened first time in North America.
The dignified and magnificent show begin with our beautiful national anthems ‘O Canada’ and ‘Jana Gana Mana’ followed by welcoming speech of Mr. Arup Goswami, Vice president of Assam Association of North America(AANA); a speech by our guest speaker Mr. Darshan Kang, Member of Parliament and another speech by Mr.Bidhu Skekhar, counsellor of Indian High Commission India, Ottawa. Each one of them was welcomed by the executive committee members from Assam Association of Alberta with a traditional Japi and a gamusa. All of them were pleased to wear the traditional Japi and Gamusa.
The cultural program started with a Jhumur dance by the children of Assam Association of Alberta. Traditionally Jhumur is a dance form of tribal groups of eastern India like Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bangal and Assam. The participants were Ananya Sarma, Maya Dutta Boruah, Riana Dutta, Rosewell Max Das, Rivan Dutta, Shivan Dutta, Dhruv Dadlani, Ivylene Deka, Hiya Dutta Boruah and Quartz Das. Everyone was mesmerized to see the excellent performance of each one from 5years old to 20 years old in the group. Next performance was a Highland dance by two little girls accompanied by an adult. It is a style of competitive solo dancing developed in Scottish Highland. Their dance postures were noticeable. While they danced they moved like a butterfly and make the number 8. The awesome performance of the two little girls definitely stole everyone’s heart. Next to Highland dance was a Huaylarsh dance by Peru dance group was a very eye catching because of the rhythm and colourful costumes. They also performed an Anaconda dance which is a fascinating traditional folk dance of Amazon region of Peru, dedicated to a water serpent that thrives in the Amazon River. The costumes were made out of dry grass or hay. While they danced a lady in the middle wore an artificial anaconda too on her neck like Mahadev, our Hindu God. It is a great success of AAA to bring both cultures of Amazon and Brahmaputra River together in Rongali Bihu 2017.
The Peru dance was followed by a beautiful line dance by a group of Chinese girls. The music of the dance was very soothing and the girls wore white dresses to match with the music while moving like a wind with the rhythm. After that the performance of a Latin dance by a Columbian group was splendid too. The colourful skirts of the girls were flared like an umbrella to move beautifully with the rhythm. This traditional dance is most popular and well-known style in Columbia originated during the Spanish colonial period. African drums and Indian flutes dominated the sound. Next the Lion dance by White Brow Hap-Ging-Do Martial Arts and Lion Association was an eye catching one too. The children in the hall were very excited to see the two huge lions danced on the floor. A lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance performs on big occasions, such as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year for good luck. It is believed that the lion is auspicious animal. The last but not the least was the Bihu Hussori performed by a group of men and women from Assam Association of Alberta. The crowd looked very excited when Hussori started. The vibrant colour of men’s costumes and Muga silk sador mekhela of women were able to catch everyone’s eye. The foot tapping rhythmic beat of dhool ,pepa ,gogona couldn’t hold people onto their seats for long and finally all stood up to clap hands to catch the rhythm. The whole ambience filled with Bihu mood just like Assam.
The main attraction of the night was a documentary on Assam called ‘Mahabahu Brahmaputra’. The documentary covered most of the topics like Srimanta Shankardev, Jyotiprashad Agarwala, Dr. Bhupen Hazarila, Pratima Barua Pandey, Ratneshwar Pathak, Bishnu Rabha, dehbisarok geet, Jhumur geet, tea garden, oil refinery, Kamakhya temple, Manash and Kaziranga national park, muga silk, Assam silk, Majuli and Satras, Rong-ghar, Kareng ghar, religions,bhawna, uja-pali and many more to describe. The documentary was produced by Manashi Goswami, made by Abhishruti Dutta Boruah and narrated by Sumana Barua. In between there were songs performed by Saumya Barua, Prashanta Barthakur, Papori Barthakur, Aghore Bathacharya, Asif Saikia, Malika Rahman and Geetasree Gogoi Apte. The MC Sumana Barua did an excellent job in the entire evening. Rimlee Dutta collected the artifacts from the community to display at the venue.
The host committee was supposed to wind up then with everyone’s surprise City of Calgary Mayor Mr. Naheed Nenshi appeared in the hall and made the crowd more excited. Mr. Nenshi was the recipient of the World Mayor prize in 2014 by the World Mayor project and also the most popular mayor in the country. Mr. Nenshi started his speech with an Assamese line ‘Rongali Bihu aru Notun Bosor r Hubhaicha Jonalu’, which means Happy Rangali Bihu and Happy New year to you all. After his speech excited crowd got up to take pictures with him. He mixed with the crowd and left the venue after his wonderful speech.
Food is always the heart of Assamese people. It says that Assamese ladies can weave hatote lukuwa aru muthite hukuwa (hiden in a palm and dry in a fist) cloth within a night. They always take pride to make traditional snacks during Bihu festival wherever in the world. Calgary Assamese ladies too made scrumptious snacks like ghila pitha, narikol r laru, boga pitha, pati septa pitha, bora sawul etc for the guests. Guests from different cultures enjoyed the Bihu snacks. The event was ended with a very delicious dinner together with Mr.Bidhu Skekhar, Mr. Darshan Kang , guests from Rotary Club and members from Executive committee of Calgary Marathi Association.
Text by: by Geetasree Gogoi Apte