Bhogali Bihu Celebrated in Calgary

By 

Arup Goswami, Calgary, Canada

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Assam Association of Alberta celebrated Bhogali Bihu on 12th of January, 2013 in the Scandinavian Centre, Calgary, Canada. The day started with traditional Lunch with “Doi-Chira”, “Til Pitha”, “Tekali Pitha”, “Narikol’r Laroo”, “Payas”, “Bora choul”, “Luchi- Bhaji”, “Booter Dal”, “Phul Kobir Achar”, “Ambal” followed by kid’s and Adult’s Game, a Quiz for Adults and youths on Assamese culture, Bingo, Cultural program, “Mukali Bihu” and finally traditional “Bhoj– Bhat” including “Khar”, “Machor Tenga,”.

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Bhogali Bihu in Columbus Ohio

By Nirmali Bauah, Westerville, OH
 

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Bhogali Bihu was celebrated at Manas Indian Restaurant (Party Hall) on 26th of January. Although it snowed the day before, people around Columbus were very enthusiastic to come to the Bihu. After having authentic Assamese snacks (tilor laroo, narikolor laroo, dai seera, and pitha) along with Samosa and tea. The function began with a welcome address by Himanshu Ojah followed by a speech by Nishanta Baruah, a second generation Assamese-American, who described his feelings about Bhogali Bihu. Few lines from his speech (the full speech is given at the beginning the newsletter):
“Having been brought up as an Assamese in America, I have often compared my two cultures, the one of my heritage and the one of my birth. I have always thought of Bhogali Bihu as the “Assamese Thanksgiving.” We don’t follow the same customs and give thanks as directly as is required inherently by Thanksgiving, but the similarities are uncanny. Bhogali Bihu is a celebration of the Harvest Season in Assam. It is a celebration of life. Without the harvest, there would be no food through the winter, and a lean winter would lead to a lean New Year.”…much more
Anil Thakuria spoke a few words and conveyed greetings to all.
The Columbus group performed “Joy raghurananda” lead by Nirmali Baruah, participants were Himanshu, Sujatha, Parveza, Manoj, and Anamika. Mafu Haque sang a few songs of Mukesh, Digbijoy Nath entertained with bihu and Assamese modern songs. A DVD of “Tribute to Assamese Music“ was shown during lunch time. Lunch was excellent, patha mangsa, tandoori chicken, veg. biriyani, masar jol, Dail, paneer curry, gulab jamun, etc.


Krishanu Kaushik came with his family from Detroit, MI to extend an invitation to the 2013 Assam Convention to be held in Detroit, during July 4-6, 2013. Krishanu, Priyanka (Chumki) and Isha and Prayas entertained the crowd with music and dance. Samba Aripaka danced with a bihu song by Papon which was a nice performance. Sujatha Ojah sang couple of Bengali and Hindi songs with her melodious voice.
Our thanks to the following people for their contributions to snacks and decorations:
Manoj and Anamika Deuri, Nikhil and Nirmali Baruah, Himanshu and Sujatha Ojah, Shouvik and Parveza Ahmed, Anil and Paraja Thakuria, Sara and Brandt Lancione, Tiffany and Nishanta Baruah, Janice and Hemen Das, Biswadeep and Joyeta Sen. We also thank Nishanta for conducting the function. Special thanks to Manoj Deuri for managing the finance, and Shouvik and Parveza for taking initiative for this celebration. We thank all the people who attended the function and made it successful.
A special guest from Assam, Monica Borah (Janice Borah’s mother), attended the function.
A DVD “Mist of Magic of NE India” was played by Nirmali Baruah, which was very much enjoyed by the crowd.
Mukali bihu dance was performed by all the attendants. It was lot of fun and brings us sweet memories of Bhogali bihu in Assam. Only thing we missed was a “Meji” that was not possible inside a hall.
The function ended with our Jatiya Sangeet, O’ mor aponar dex.
Joi Ai Axom!

Bhogali Bihu - A Celebration of Life

 By

Nishanta K. Baruah, Columbus, OH

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The importance of celebrating Bihu was taught to me at an early age. Rongali Bihu was always the favorite of many of our family, and no one really thought much of Kongali Bihu. But Bhogali Bihu, or Magh Bihu, to some, has always been my favorite. Ma and Deuta would have plenty of food ready; mangsar jhool, masar tenga, dal, and sarsari would be heating in the oven, made days in advance. Deuta would roll teelar laroo by the dozens, and Ma would be stirring something, anything, at the stove, the same posture she’d held for days. While the scent of jeera and dhania was never strange at the Baruah residence, the fresh winter air would be spiked with the scent of a myriad other spices as the cooking continued.
Oftentimes I would be oblivious to the amount of work it took to make a feast worthy of Bhogali Bihu. I would be playing Zelda on my Nintendo, reading a book, or finding some other way to avoid doing work. Reluctantly, after being “asked” multiple times, I would finally vacuum the house, maybe shovel the driveway if the yearly January snowstorm happened to hit just before Bihu. When people came over I would treat it as any other party, enjoying the company of others as well as enjoying the food, then saying goodbye and feeling the depression that a newly empty house always brings. But I never stopped to think of exactly what we did and why I enjoyed it so much.
It wasn’t until I left home did I truly understand why I enjoyed Bhogali Bihu so much. Sure, there’s great food, and don’t let anyone tell you I don’t enjoy good food. But it’s so much more than that. As I matured, I realized that the feast Ma and Deuta prepared for their guests during Bhogali Bihu was symbolic of the feast Assamese people over the generations have prepared. And that’s when I got it.
Having been brought up an Assamese in America, I have often compared my two cultures, the one of my heritage and the one of my birth. I am an American, by birth and by culture. But so am I an Assamese, also by birth and by culture. So I cannot separate the two. I think of Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday, because it brings family together for a feast during the Harvest Season. I have always thought of Bhogali Bihu as the “Assamese Thanksgiving.” We don’t follow the same customs and give thanks as directly as is required inherently by Thanksgiving, but the similarities are uncanny. Bhogali Bihu is a celebration of the Harvest Season in Assam. It is a celebration of life. Without the harvest, there would be no food through the winter, and a lean winter would lead to a lean New Year. Rongali Bihu wouldn’t be the same without a good harvest, and this is why I place Bhogali Bihu first in my mind.
Back in the days of my youth, we did not have nearly the contingent of Assamese in Columbus as we do today. Last year I spoke of a great member of our community who dedicated his life to broadening the scope of Assamese tradition, and I can say that, were he alive today, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika would be proud of us. Just imagine it—a small state in India, known for its tea and unique music, spreading out internationally and celebrating the most Assamese of traditions in cities across the globe.
Bihur Morom, Raiz Hakal, and thank you for celebrating it with us! Dhanyabad! <<Namaste>>

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