News from Michigan

 By Partha Sarathi Borah

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Preparation for Assam Convention 2013
The Assamese community of Michigan (informally known as AAMI - Assam Association of Michigan) is very excited to host the 34th Assam Convention this year. Kickoff meeting was organized along with Diwali celebration on the 10th of November, 2012, to formally start the preparation for the convention. The web site http://www.ac-2013.com was launched on the first day of this year.. The site allows on line registration and payment, and program registration for those who want to perform in the cultural function, apart from giving very good information about the convention in particular and Detroit and Michigan in general.
For the cultural events, in addition to the well known singers, dancers, musicians and performers among our community in North America, we have extended our invitation to Simanta Shekhar and Subasana Dutta, both very popular singers in Assam. We are also planning other activities to make this convention enjoyable for every attendee.


Diwali Celebration

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This year, Diwali was celebrated at the residence of Krishanu and Priyanka Kaushik on 10th November, 2012. Starting with fire crackers that everybody enjoyed, the celebration continued with sumptuous food, delicious sweets and a lot of excitement and chit-chatting about the upcoming convention. There was a logo contest to select the logo for the convention. Out of four submissions by Chiranjit-Anjori Bordoloi, Chandan Mozumder, Ritesh-Rumi Chakravorty and Manjit-Gayatri Gogoi, the one submitted by Manjit and Gayatri was selected through anonymous voting. This event was attended by a sizeable number of people from this region, including a few new members – Shammimul Haque and Harsha-Mollie Phukan...


Thanksgiving
This year, Istakur and Nazveen Rahman organized ‘Thanksgiving’ at their residence on 22nd November, 2012. Many members of AAMI family gathered to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy the evening together. The celebration went on late into the night with wonderful Karaoke performances by our local singers. Everybody had a lot of fun.

New Year’s Eve

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The AAMI family got together at the residence of the Kaushik family on Jan 31st to ring in the New Year together. After good food and chit-chat, everybody hit the dance floor around midnight and danced to their hearts content to the great song selection of several of our amateur in-house DJs.


Magh Bihu Celebration

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Magh Bihu this year was celebrated at the residence of Krishanu and Priyanka Kaushik on 12th January. Most of the people living in this area attended the festival. It started with Agni Puja, followed by evening snacks with wide variety of delicious Pithas prepared by participant families and then followed by Uruka Feast in the night. Although the order was reverse of the traditional Bihu in Assam, the fun and Bhogali spirit was very much there. One of the highlight of the Bihu was a cake prepared by Gayatri Gogoi, on the icing of which she recreated scenes from Bhogali Bihu traditions to very intricate details.

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Bihu Dance at Durga Puja & Diwali

It is a matter of pride that our Nasonis were invited to perform Bihu dance in three different occasions of Durga Puja and Diwali celebration. Vani Rao, Ashapurna Sharma, Mompi Bhuyan Borah, Deepshikha Sharmah, Anjori Dutta and Rumi Chakravarty performed on 21st Oct, 2012 at Durga Puja celebration organized by Swajan, on 16th Nov, 2012 at Diwali celebration organized by The Village Theater at Cherry Hill, Canton, MI and on 17th Nov, 2012 at another Diwali celebration at Durga Temple at Detroit.

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Minnesotar Bhogalir Bhoj and a Virtual Meji

By Geeti Das, Minneapolis, MN

The magic and joy of the holiday season are even more festive when celebrations extend beyond the New Year. As we welcome 2013, Magh Bihu spirit fills in in the air, which means food is everywhere again, and this time from our pure Axomiya kitchen. The Twin Cities Assamese Community gathered for their Urukar Bhoj on January 12th at the Sarmah brother’s new residence at Eden Prairie. Pranab-Mili and Parag-Reema were the gracious hosts, and it was an evening full of Bhogali essence and memories.

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Bihur Ulog: As we started our meet and greet, and wished everyone around us, it felt good to hear the rest of the gathering exchanging Bihu wishes, children with smiles running around and sharing their feelings too. For a minute or two, these greetings kept echoing, and naturally followed by the nice compliments: Wow, you look beautiful, Gorgeous Mekhala Sador, Trendy Designer Kurta…and so all that fun and appreciative talk still continues, and in no time your taste buds blindly follow to the sweet aroma of the dining area filled with home-made Bihu snacks and appetizers.
Urukar Appetizer Bites: Our great appetizer spread always gets a party off to a festive start. Everybody’s starter plate looked so tempting with the mitha doi-sira, laroo-pitha, nimki, cake, spicy bread rolls, egg chops, and dozen other appetizers. We were even lucky to relish some Haldiram Export delicacies freshly flown from New Delhi just the day before Uruka by Sabina-Reza’s visit to India, and this completed our first course of sweet treat. While in our home-towns in Assam, mostly in the cities now-a-days, people buy store-bought pitha-pona because they are easily available, that is not quite the case here. The moms including the children and dads too, seem to be more excited to try making or experimenting variety pithas and laroos, reviving the true meaning of this Bihu.

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Bhogalir Adda: While the ladies always ready for a hearty laugh with their fun chit chat, the gentlemen all sat down in a big circle and started their all-time favorite topic about the latest gadgets. As I sneaked in quick to be part of their techi talk, Parvez who is always full of humor commented: “We are enjoying our Bhogalir Adda with a Virtual Meji burning right in the middle of this big circle”.
Well, I felt the warmth of our virtual Meji, and realized the guys too must be addicted to its warmth. For a second, my mind drifted away to the fresh morning picture of a burning Meji in my Guwahati home with my parents. As the evening was filled with the tradition’s best, and the ladies always energized for some great photo shoots, it was time to grab your plate for the next main course, the long waiting Bhooj,
and NOW -- THE REAL FEASTING BEGINS!

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What’s for Bhooj: Maati Daal, Butor Daal, Muri Ghonto, Maasor Khaar, Elish Maasor Koni Fry, Maasor Tenga, Maasor Kalia, Paneer Tikka, Chicken Masala, Mutton Curry, and topped with fresh garden herbs and Salad. The delicious flavorful Axomiya dishes, yet not overly rich and cooked with an authentic touch in every family’s kitchen was truly appreciated by all. The kids indulged in this amazing variety of food seemed to have relished and pretty pleased with their classic menu on this special evening.
The traditional comfort food reminded most of us about food cooking from Ma’s kitchen.

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Other Uruka Highlights:
Our guest-of-honor this year is Reyansh, 6 month old son of Ankita and Bijan who enjoyed his 1st Uruka meal from his milk bottle and Gerber goodies. Our newest member joining our community is Sangeeta and Pratip Das who recently moved from Seattle to the Twin Cities. While the little ones were all engaged in their play-time, and some absorbed into today’s smartphone obsessions, the two talented young girls - Pooky (14) and Riyah (12) tried something new; They made an amazing and creative dance video with one of the cool iPad apps, and presented it towards the end of the evening which was quite a surprise and one of a kind entertainment to all. Pahari had to blow her surprise birthday candle, and we had another moment of celebration. Pranab and Parag’s father, Shri Hare Krishna Sarmah from Maligaon, Guwahati, recently publisher his book called ‘Xomoyor Anubhov’ comprising of beautiful poems reflecting his true feelings over several decades of his life. A valued possession for us this Bihu was Sarmah Uncle’s book as a gift from the host family.

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Wishing for sweetness all year around, we wrapped up the evening with our final course, the hard to resist - Kheer. With this, our Uruka Bhoj was officially over. We all enjoyed to the seasons fullest!
Truth about being a proud Minnesotan is -- We still party, even if it feels Arctic. Then as we got into our freezing car in the below zero wind chill that evening, 7 year old Nimisha asked me: “Mommy, how many more days for the April Bihu?” Before I could think for an answer, her next question popped out: “Mommy, which song are we singing for the April Bihu?” What struck me is -- our children delightfully look forward to our traditional celebrations, and not so happy to believe that Magh Bihu was over, was already envisioning to the Rongali gathering in Spring. Sweet indeed!

Magh Bihu Celebration 2013 - Atlanta, Georgia

By Parulma Deka, Duluth, GA

The Atlanta Assamese community gathered together at the residence of Mrinali & Balaji Dometti on January 12th to celebrate Magh Bihu 2013. The festivities began with everyone collecting firewood to build the Meji.

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After doing Agni Pranam to the Meji, we all enjoyed breakfast with garam saa, traditional salty and sweet snacks, different kinds of pithas and larus, and cheera doi.

The afternoon celebration continued outdoors in the Dometti’s backyard, with sunny, blue skies and temperature in the 70s. The scenery reminded us of Assamese villages back home. While the men were busy putting their cooking skills to the test with the goat meat, the ladies provided guidance and assistance with other dishes that included bengena pura, aloo pitika, salad, daal, and rice. The children also got to show their artistic talent by creating beautiful calendars for their families as New Year gifts. While waiting for the food to finish cooking, freshly grilled tandoori chicken was enjoyed by all.
The celebration ended with open stage bihu dance outside with the kids and the parents.
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After spending the day relaxing and appreciating the beautiful weather, and eating such delicious food and enjoying one another's company, community members are all looking forward to the Bohag Bihu celebration in April.

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