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Assamese Community Celebrates Cultural Heritage: Assam 2003

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Amid great enthusiasm, festivity and delicious food, the Assamese community of North America held its annual get-together, Assam 2003, to celebrate its heritage of Assamese language and culture, in St. Louis. Assam 2003 coincided with US Independence Day celebrations as well as the bicentennial commemoration of the expedition by Lewis & Clark into America's West. A joint effort by all Assamese organizations of North America including Assam Association of North America, Assam Society of America, Assam Foundation of North America, Asom Sahitya Sabha of North America, and United Assamese Organization of North America, Assam 2003 brought together more than 200 families of the Assamese community settled in North America. Those attending participated in various social and cultural activities during this two-day event.

The first day’s evening cultural program began with the singing of the US national anthem performed by the Assamese youth of St. Louis. It was followed by a program of Assamese folk songs and dances by the children and young adults including performances of Bihu and other traditional folk dances, Xatriya, Jhumur, Odissi and Bharat Natyam.

The second day of Assam 2003 began with the annual meetings of all the sponsoring Assamese organizations. A community discussion forum on "What does it mean to be an Assamese" was held in the afternoon with more than 100 first and second-generation Assamese American adults and youth participating.

The second day’s evening cultural program included an Assamese chorus, followed by a series of songs, poems, and an eulogy presented in the memory of a community member who recently passed away. Assamese songs, Assamese folk dances (Bihu, Husori), Assamese Xatriya dance (Ojhapali), Indian folk dance (Rajasthani), Indian classical dance (Bharat Natyam, Kathak & Odissi) and dances from popular Hindi movies were part of the evening. Assam 2003 event was brought to a close with the rendition of "O' Mor Aponar Desh".

Various sports events - Badminton, Cricket, Volleyball, and Track - were also held.

A major highlight of the Assam 2003 was bountiful food and delicacies evoking memories of traditional Assamese cuisine such as Maachor Tenga (tangy fish curry), laru, pitha, and other traditional snacks of Assam.

Mantu Baishya, President of Assam Society of America, lets us know that discussions and preparations for the celebration of Assam 2004 (Joint Assam Convention/Assam Day) are in progress.