The Assamese community of Minneapolis and St. Paul and neighboring areas gathered at the Shakopee Lions Hall on the 18th April, 2009 to celebrate the most anticipated and loved event, Rongali Bihu. It was celebrated with unprecedented fun and enthusiasm. The vivacity of all the kids and the zeal of all the adults helped make this year’s Bihu an event to remember. It was a perfect spring day in this northern “land of ten thousand lakes”, the best Bihu weather we have had in a long time.
It was a day filled with fun, games, good food and a grand cultural show. The anticipation and excitement for this joyous day started long before April. The making of the Bihu banner, the purchase of the music system, the practice sessions accompanied by delightful dinners (which made us feel we should have practice sessions so very often!) and planning the details set the mood for the big day!
Sanjeev Bordoloi gave a welcome speech and we started the colorful day with the rendition of a ladies chorus “Mur-e Bharotore”. Husori followed the opening song and the enthusiastic men, as always, pushed the already electric Bihu mood to a high gear. The catchy Bihu geets accompanied by the sound of tal-toka and gogona made the husori team live up to its tradition.
Our sprightly kids enthralled us with their performances and they started with a chorus ‘Bilote Halise’- an evergreen feature in our Bihu celebrations. The adorable preschoolers Nimisha, Geet, Kabita and Ruhi danced to the song of “Ek dui tini” followed by an Oxomiya adhunik geet by brother sister duo Ayan and Ashmita. A comedy skit “The Ipod Human” was splendidly presented by brothers Nibir and Samir and so was a Zubeen Garg song by Devika. Tanish, our budding singer, got the audience to sing along with his lively performance. Another highlight was the kids fashion show where the dashing kids walked down the ramp leaving all of us in the audience with the oohs and aaahs!. Pooky, Ashmita, Riyah, Nibir and Ayan captivated us with a dance to the peppy tunes of “Jai Ho”, beautifully choreographed by Parvez.
The ladies Bihu dance was graceful as always. Skilled dancers, Mili, Ankita, Purabi and Namita danced to a modern and melodious Bihu number setting the cameras in the hall go “flash, flash, flash, flash…”. “Geetor Godhuli” was an encore performance from Minti, Pranab and Deepankar, with Saroj accompanying the group on the guitar. They sang a collection of Bihu geets, Assamese songs of yesteryears, adhunik geet and Hindi songs. By this time the Bihu toli was reverberating with some everlasting Assamese tunes.
The ladies jhumur dance and a modern dance by Parvez and Ankita sparkled the dance floor. And last but not the least the men’s chorus (Bhupen Hazarika’s “Manuhe Manuhor Baabe”) and a rocking performance of “Rock On” added special flavor to the cultural evening. On a lighter note we saw our “deka dol” shopping till the last minute for a snazzy look for their much anticipated performance of the evening!! The fun games (both indoors and outdoors) were also quite the highlight of the day. Everyone enthusiastically played the koni juj (even though there was a request that their koni’s be boiled for the koni juj!), tug of war. musical chair, marble in a spoon race and the sack race. The inner kid in all of us showed in plenty while playing the games. The perfect weather added some more fun to our games.
An exhibition of “Cultural Artifacts of Assam” was very informative and educational for all the kids.
The Bihu bhoj, starting with the jolpan, was a feast in the true sense. All the ladies took special effort in making laroo, pitha and a host other traditional Bihu snacks. The sumptuous dinner was the perfect ending to the great day.
It was a day where we came together to share the joys of our beloved festival. We may be far from home but the spirit never does change. We take pride in celebrating a slice of our heritage which is so rich. It was truly a day filled with good moments that memories are made of.
Collage by Geeti Das