Rongali Bihu Celebration 2013 ~ Atlanta, Georgia

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-By Parulma Deka, Duluth, GA

Assamese community of Atlanta celebrated this year's Rangali Bihu at a community club house on 13th April Saturday. It was sunny day weather like in Assam with so many different kinds of flowers blooming all around the city. More than 80 people from Atlanta and nearby states like North Carolina and Tennessee gathered to celebrate our New Year and Rongali bihu.
The day began with children's games and Easter egg hunt followed by games for the adults.
There was a pitha/pana competition and as a result we had some delicious authentic Assamese snacks like... Tilar and narikalar pitha, ghila pitha, larus, sandesh, nimkis, ghugnis etc. After a good cup of Assamese tea, everybody enjoyed children's cultural show. We have so many talented children who entertained us with their beautiful songs and dances and with musical instruments.
This was followed by an Assamese musical quiz competition, which was enjoyed by all the adults singing along with the tunes.

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There was a fashion show for children and adults and there were so many interesting couples who joined in the fashion parade.
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Dinner was catered from an Indian restaurant and after a delicious dinner, we were all entertained by the adults. Few of the assamese skits kept us laughing and melodies music by Jayanta Pathak and Eamon Dutta took us all back to our college days.
This year's Bihu ended with a group husori.
We wish all of you from Assam a very happy New Year.

Rongali Bihu Celebration 2013 - Raleigh, North Carolina

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-By Chayanika Mohan, Raleigh, NC

It is Bohag Bihu once again and we are away from our homeland, Assam, for yet another year. Despite the geographical miles in between, the fervor and enthusiasm at the North Carolina Bihu celebration, of 2013, was high and heady like the years before.

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On a crisp spring evening, redolent with the unmistakable scent of our beloved “togor phool”, the members of the Assamese community of the state of North Carolina gathered for an evening of Bihu camaraderie at the Witherspoon Hall of North Carolina State University in the heart of the capital city, Raleigh. The arrangement of the venue was graciously arranged by Nilakshi Phukan, who is also a professor of the Hindi-Urdu language courses held in the university.

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Most of the guests arrived on time, not wanting to miss a minute of the evening. Within an hour the hall was filled with laughter and “khar khuwa” Assamese banter, amidst the rustle of beautiful pat and muga silk mekhela sadors. Many had come from different cities like Raleigh, Cary, Charlotte and Brevard within the state and a couple graced their presence from Washington, DC. There were the known faces and some new acquaintances. Amongst them all, were some special guests - Nilakshi Phukan’s students from the Hindi-Urdu classes who were specially invited to experience and learn about our beautiful Bihu festival of Assam.
The celebrations for the evening began with the enthusiastic rendition of “Oh beli, beli” by the youngsters (Prithuraj Neog, Ishan Neog, Tanisha Gogoi and Vansh

Gogoi). Whether it was in showing their dexterity at playing the violin (Anurag Baruah and Esha Baruah) or the keyboard (Prithuraj Neog and Vansh Gogoi) or dancing Bihu (Tanisha Gogoi and Mehrin) - the young ones did it all and enthralled the audience with their individual talents.
The elders too had their fair share of acts in store, following up the kids with their own series of choruses, dances and witty compering. While the hosts’ (Rathin Devchoudhury, Meenakshi Devchoudhury, Deepanjali Das, Debojit Gogoi, Deepjyoti Rajkhowa, Prasenjit Khanikar, Pundarikakshya Baruah, Monalisa Baruah, Namrata Chetia Bora and Nilakshi Phukan) melodious “Heuji , heuji” chorus, reflected the Assam-like verdant greenery of North Carolina, the out of town guests infused the flavor of Assam through a soulful “zikir” (Chinmoyee, Kaberi, Aparajita, Bonti, Elbin, Anjan). There was also an Odissi and Kathak fusion dance performed on a Bhupen Hazarika classic (Aparajita Gogoi), amongst other notable performances. A few other events of the evening were a medley (Nilakshi Phukan, Meenakshi Devchoudhury, Deepanjali Das, Chayanika Mohan, Monalisa Baruah), a few self-composed songs (Pulakesh Baruah) and a quick travel trivia quiz (by Devraj Borah and Pundarikakshya Baruah). In between this medley of Assamese talent, the students of the Hindi Urdu classes added their zing with a Bollywood dance and a couple of Hindi poems, recited fluently by students of both Indian as well as American origin.
The programs for the evening ended on a high note with the Raleigh Bihu group performing their well-rehearsed “mukoli Bihu”, which was quickly joined in by the rest of the guests. The gastronomic spread for the evening included a variety of sumptuous delicacies lovingly prepared by the members as well as a few dishes from professional caterers.
While the overall function might have been only for a few hours of an evening, in reality, the event began quite a few months before the actual date and will continue to a couple of months after it, too. The members of the community meet up regularly either on the pretext of preparing for the Bihu or to celebrate the success of the event itself. In this far away land, it is this closeness and these evenings of “preparations” that keeps the close knit community together with a sense of warmth and love thus creating a home away from home. The venue might have been a university hall and the food a mix of “pitha” and pizza; the essence of the festival in Raleigh is as vibrant and strong as any Bihu celebration in heartland Assam.

Rongali Bihu Celebration 2013 - North West United States

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-By Debabrata Sarma, Kirkland, WA

As usual when Seattle hosts the Rongali Bihu in the North West region, it is very likely to be accompanied by rain. So did it happen on April 20, 2013, and there was a good amount of drenching for everybody before getting inside the venue. Once inside, everybody’s spirit lifted with the Bihu songs playing in the air inside the beautiful hall with a fabulous sound system! The festivities commenced right away with the exchange of Bihu and New Year’s greetings amongst the attendees!
Nandita Rajkhowa compered the evening program with great diligence and was able to keep the flow without any delays.

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It was a pleasant surprise to see the participation of children in great numbers starting from the tiny tots! Thanks to the parents for introducing their children to the rich culture of our beloved state!
Everybody was really happy to see participation from Vancouver (Canada) families and Portland and Vancouver (Washington) families as groups in the evening cultural program.

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The evening started with a welcome address by Dr. Debabrata Sarma followed immediately by Jonali Borgohain with an excellent classical rendering of the Ganapati dance.
The Seattle kids, Barbie Bezbaruah, Rishika Barua, Riniki Gogoi, Ruhi Rajkhowa, Kaustubhi Das, Rishi Rajkhowa, Rajveer Deka, and Saptarishi Das, performed an almost authentic Hoosori, impressing everybody. Sachetan Sengupta followed with a nice piano recital.
It was a day for the children. Rajveer recited a poem, Bhoot Poowali” by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala. Riniki followed with a solo song of “Bilote haalise dhoonia padoomi…”, the famous Bishnu Rabha song. Barbie executed a beautiful performance of an Odishi dance. The Portland children, Anish Goswami, Aroosh Goswami, Sanika Ali, Ridhiman Prateek Choudhury and Aashvi Medhi (Seattle), performed a group dance. Shreya Sarma from Vancouver, Canada, did a scintillating performance of a Bihu dance. Pooja Senapati had the opportunity of showing her dancing talents in two of her dances based on hindi songs. One of the songs was the famous, “Joi Ho…” Rhea Ali of Vancouver (Washington) and Lana Buragohain of Seattle, danced to the tune of a hindi song, “Nan-na Re, Nan-na Re,…”, another beautiful performance from the children. The

sweet surprise was a solo song by little Mahika Sharma from Vancouver, Canada. She chose the popular song, “O’ dhoon dhoonia,…” by Dr. Biren Datta. Dr. Biren Datta’s song seems to be back in popularity. The Seattle children, Barbie, Rishika, Riniki, Ruhi, Kaustubhi, and Trisha Buragohain, danced to the tune of “Mookhat doodal doobori bon…”
Latha Nath as usual regaled everybody with a hindi song. The Seattle ladies, Sanghamitra Borgohain, Bhusana Deka, Jonali Borgohain, and Gitashri Goswami, mesmerized the audience with a beautiful Bihu dance performance which has now risen to a professional level. Sujata Talukdar followed with a Dr. Bhupen Hazarika song, “Ganga mour ma, Padma mour ma…”
There was a pleasant surprise Bihu dance by the Portland group of ladies, Suman Tasnim, Rhea Ali and Pompi Das. The biggest surprise of all was three skits from the Vancouver (Canada) group presented by, Sanjay Saikia, Abyartha Sharma and Bhaskar Sarma. Kudos to the Vancouver group for bringing a change in the cultural program.
There will not be an end to a Bihu celebration without the Hoosori. The menfolk, Satyajit Nath, Saranga Goswami, Rubul Das, Ranjan Barua, Mridul Gogoi, Trideev Gogoi, Bhaskar Deka, and Amlan Chakravarty, practiced quite a lot to achieve perfection. It was a nicely choreographed Hoosori along with the ladies, Sanghamitra, Bhusana, Jonali, and Gitashri. The Hoosori was the end of the cultural evening which culminated with everybody joining in the Mookoli Bihu, which continued for a very long time, nobody seems to be getting tired and wanted to continue forever!
The day ended with a delicious dinner with plenty of food all prepared by the Seattle ladies.
Abyartha Sharma gave the vote of thanks and rightfully praised the small group of organizers who tirelessly worked for several weeks to make the North West Rongali Bihu a great success!
Thanks to Trideev Gogoi and Satyajit Nath for nicely decorating the stage. Special thanks to Trideev for the new banner.
Thanks to Dwipen Bhagawati, Mridul Gogoi and Susanta Sengupta for sharing the beautiful photos!

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