This is the month of Bohaag, a very special month for the Assamese community. Rongali Bihu, an inseparable part of Assamese society and culture is celebrated with a sense of solidarity, togetherness & feeling of oneness amongst members of the Assamese community. The word ‘Rongali’ is derived from the root word ‘Rong’ meaning gaiety and happiness indicating that the festival is marked by a fervor and joyousness that find their manifestation in the various Bihu songs and dances that are performed through ‘Husori’. The rhythm and euphony of Rongali Bihu pulsate in the veins of the people of Assam spreading messages of goodwill, peace and harmony. Like all previous years, the Assamese Community in NSW and ACT celebrated Rongali Bihu on 16 April in Pennant Hills Community Centre in Sydney.
The evening was inaugurated with a beautiful chorus of ‘Shree Moyee Axomi’ which undoubtedly touched the heart of the audience. An opening speech was delivered by the President of Assamese Association of Australia ACT & NSW. The president gave a brief overview of the newly formed association and launching of the association’s website.
The children’s program started with a stunning kid’s fashion show (below the age group of 5 years). The little kids walked on the ramp holding their mums’ hands and wearing different kinds of traditional attire. All the kids enchanted the audience with their magnificent performances such as dance performances to the tune of ‘Poka dhanor maje maje xoru xoru ali o’, Rabha Sangeet ‘Tilai Tilai’ and song performance of popular Assamese singer Dipali Borthakur’s ‘Kon manborxire sip’ and Bhupendra Sangeet ‘Manuhe Manuh r babe’.
The group of small children enthralled the crowd by their dance ‘Padel mari mari’ and it was really fascinating and entertaining. Our talented girls also performed a medley dance on Karbi, Jhumur and Tiwa song which indeed portrays the existence of our rich cultural heritage and unity and diversity among various ethnic tribes in Assam. The Assamese diaspora has invested time into running an informal language and culture appreciation school ‘Bhaxa Ghor’ – providing kids from the diaspora an insight into their home language and culture.
The team Canberra also captivated the crowd through their fabulous performances such as a group dance medley on ‘Assamese version of Kolaveri di’ and ‘Xagor Xangamat’, soulful instrumental recital and of course the dance drama named ‘Xanskritir Pragatir Jokhola’.
The Bihu magazine ‘Gogona’ was also inaugurated on the day of Rongali Bihu celebration. Through everyone’s contribution and effort ‘Gogona’ has accomplished its seventh successful year and has taken on a beautiful new look. The cultural evening also featured a number of solo song performances by our local artists and their songs comprised of old and new Assamese melodies. One of the most dazzling performances of the evening was ‘Labra dance’ (Medley of three different dance songs. The name ‘Labra’ is a comical attempt to signify this mixture). Another mesmerizing program of the event was an Assamese traditional fusion group song blending in a sequence of devotional and bihu songs.
The popular Assamese band Jantroz’s sparkling performance on old and new Assamese melodies further added to the beauty of the evening and it was greatly appreciated by all the audience. The evening ended with the most awaited Husori and Bihu performance by Sydney Bihu Dol with their superb performance and acknowledged their energy, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to put up such a marvellous show. The stage was also beautifully and artistically decorated with gamusa, japi, dhol, pepa, bihuwa-bihuwoti etc. by our young talented artists.
As the Assamese community grows it became evident that the community needed to organise itself and hence Assamese Association of Australia (ACT & NSW) was formed last year. The Association has been instrumental in organising a few events over the past 12 months and has had 2 successful elections. The official website of the Assamese Association was launched in Bihu – www.assaminaustralia.org.au . The Assamese community’s popularity and recognition is spreading all over Australia gradually. These Assamese residents of Sydney and Canberra’s continuous effort have made the bond of our rich cultural and literary heritage more powerful and effective.
By Shrutidhara Kaushik