2013 Minnesota Rongali Bihu Celebrations

 – By Sabina Zeenat

April 13, 2013 - The sun was out but the wind was chill and Mississippi still wore its snowy garb. Minnesota had not seen the green grass and the bursting trees yet, but the hearts of the Assamese Minnesotans were warm and filled with the joys of Rongali Bihu. We celebrated this anticipated event in a log cabin nestled in the Lions Park of Shakopee, which we lovingly call our bihutoli.

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 It was a fun filled day with friends joining us from neighboring Rochester, Saint Cloud and Iowa. The colorful day started with jolpan, consisting of a delicious ensemble of traditional Bihu treats and snacks. This was followed by Sanjeev Bordoloi’s vibrant opening speech and Oxomiya Xomobeto Sangeet. The very eager kids kicked off the cultural show. The 3-7 year olds- Aatharva, Taj, Aarhi, Reisha, Devarsh, Geet, Loy, Annie, Ruhi, Nimisha and Sabreen impressed us with their recitation of an Assamese all-time favorite kids’ poem, taught by Geeti Das. This was followed by a Bihu dance by our enthusiastic little nasonis, taught by Anju Deori. The fun and passion with which they performed was very admirable. Solo performances in Assamese by Devarsh, Nimisha, Ayan, Diksha and Darsh and solo musical performance by Ruhi and Geet showed how truly talented our young kids are. Nibir, Samir and Ayan performed a lively Bhangra dance followed by another elegant dance by talented sisters Nishan and Sabreen. Ashmita entertained us with a beautiful Bharat Natyam dance. Brothers Nibir and Samir amused us with a short comedy on Bollywood movies. The cello-violin- keyboard orchestra performance by Nibir, Riyah and Ashmita captured the audience’s attention with their musical harmony. It was very heartening to see how well our youngsters have embraced a piece of our rich tradition by participating so passionately in the Bihu festivities. All of them were very excited and always looked forward to the Bihu practice sessions to work on their performances. The kids had their share of fun with some delightful indoor games arranged by Prantor and Sanjeev. As outdoor sports were not an option due to the cold weather, the creative indoor games captivated the little hearts.

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Our talented adults entertained us during the cultural evening. Anju, Ankita and Geeti’s beautifully choreographed Bihu dance was one of the highlights of the evening. We enjoyed their elegant and charming performance. We equally enjoyed the husori which was replete with tradition. The pepa, dhol and taal reverberated the sounds of Bihu thousands of miles beyond Axom into our own Minnesota bihutoli. The brilliant and unique sound of these instruments keeps us close to home. We were entertained by the solo performances of Pranab, Dipankar and Minti’s melodious songs accompanied by Saroj and Arun on guitar and keyboard. We sat back, relaxed and enjoyed their performance. The fun day ended with a sumptuous dinner. The memories were captured by Gautam Deori, whose tremendous expertise with his camera lenses recorded the memorable day for years to come.

News from Houston, Texas 2013

 -By Usha Sarma and Jeena Mahanta

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Like previous years, Houston Assamese community Rongali Bihu 2013 celebration was yet another grand success. Thanks for active participation by folks from Dallas, Austin, Edinburgh, College Station and even from Louisiana, California, Ohio and Atlanta the fun was even greater. Organizers Pallabi  and Anupam Das, Gautam Borthakur, and a number of others deserve kudos from the community for their tremendous hard work. 

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The day long event started with Bihu flag hoisting, singing "Srimoee Asamir sital bukut". It was followed by an elaborate breakfast "Bihu Jalpan" with varities of  pitha_pana coordinated by Sangeeta Borah and Pallbi Das. As always, ladies "pitha-pana" competition was a great success.

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Ever enthusiast Lohit Datta-Baruah together with Mike Fincke conducted sport activities for children and adults including Easter Egg Hunt. Anupam Das took the baton from Lohit for the future, with promise that Lohit will continue to be an adviser in this favorite category. Meanwhile, “Baby Bezbaruah Running Trophy” for Pitha-Pona contest was coordinated by Roopa Baruah. Trophy went to Manashi Saikia. Face painting and Jetuka by Sushma Chetri and Vedajyoti Ozah were big hits, particularly among the children.

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Following individual and community recognitions were made: High school graduate: Anjalee Angie Choudhury, College Graduates: Aanika Das and Timothy Das and Indrany Datta-Barua (Medical Doctor), Achievement: Nabanjan Das, Ranu Dutta, Service: Pankaj Panging and Jonali Barua, Service: Barada Sarma, Achievement: Mike Fincke, Parul Hazarika, and Rajen Barua. Morning program was concluded by enjoying home cooked lunch coordinated by Archana Parashar, Barnasha Deka and Sangeeta Bora, and cooked by many.

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The evening cultural program started on time in the packed hall, well decorated by Sangeeta Bora and Anita Borthakur. Anupam Das was certainly enjoying in handling the newly acquired community PA system. Cultural coordinator Dr. Gautam Borthakur opened the stage for children program. Orindom Mahanta emceed the children segment with able stage support from Bala Navaskar, Dhyan Deka, and Rubul Baruah, Children enthralled the audience opening up the evening progamme with "mukali bihu” led by Probha Saikia and Renita Fincke. Sugat, Jilmil, Riya, Jimly, Risha, Anvi, Riddhi, Prahlad, Meera, Sophia, Neel, Nishtha, Devika, Liya, Chandra, Tarali, Surya and other children performed a varities of items contributing to a lively evening. Dil Deka gathered all her “Assamese Learning” school children and adults and presented a delightful skit.
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It was then time for a delicious catered dinner coordinated by Pallabi Das and Ajanta Baruah and served by Anita Borthakur, Dil Deka, Luku Deka, Manjula Datta-Barua, Reema Das, Roopa Baruah, and Usha Sarma, Members enjoyed machar tenga from Manjula Datta Baruah, Luku Deka, Dil Deka and Manashi Saikia, Bor tenga from Jeena & Roopa Baruah and Kaldil bhaji from Jeet Das. Kalyan Saikia, Rupam Bora, Jay Parashar, Dushyant, and Imran made sure that everybody enjoyed the tea and the sweets.  
Anjana Bora from Dallas brought everybody into the Spring evening mood reciting her beautiful prose. Then enters Swastika Sharma who emceed the second segment of the cultural program. Reema Das sang her very own two popular songs followed by songs from Jit Das and Pankaj Panging. Jonali Panging's Satria nritya was wonderful. Duets by Rupa and Ashok Baruah, Sandeep and Priyakhi Bhattacharya and popular songs rendered by Usha Sarma and Nilotpola Das were well appreciated. While chorus from both Houston and Dallas were holding their ground, the highlight of the evening was the Bihu dance by Boby Mahanta, Barnasha Deka,Beda Oza, Manashi Saikia, Ambreen Imran. Bobby then entertained everybody with her solo bihu performance. Earlier in the evening she joined Nilkamal Mahanta in rendering a beautiful Borgeet. Mrs.Namita Hazarika from Assam entertained the audience reciting her own poem.
Following Vote of Thanks by Pallavi Das and reciting ‘O, Mor Aponar Daex…’concluded the Rongali Bihu 2013 celebration. The Houston community takes this opportunity to thank Jeena Mahanta for her behind the scene support to the organizers making this event a grand success.

Chicagoland Rongali Bihu 2013

- Contributed by Dr. Gautam L Baruah and Mrs. Enakshi Baruah
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What can we say? The 2013 Chicagoland Bihu was truly of epic proportions. A good chunk of the Assamese Diaspora from the entire Midwest attended, with the total participation upwards of 150. Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan were all well represented, apart from the Chicagoans. If you think you knew your neighboring Axomiya raiz, you are mistaken. There was a bewildering array of new faces in the gathering at the Holiday Inn, Rolling Meadows-Schaumburg.

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The evening began with choice Axomiya pitha and jalpan with cookies to whet the western palate – courtesy Rani baidew, Gita baidew, Kabita baidew, Kuki baidew and Enakshi. The first act of the cultural program was the soulful rendering of the National anthem of USA by Shelly Bhuyan. What followed next was a collage of costumes and delightful melodies conducted by MCs Udish and Anya with a deft grace, belying their tender age. The chorus was a song composed by Arup Bhuyan with uniquely relevant lyrics.

The overarching theme this year was children’s programs. The group dance from the Chicagoland kids was the cutest with toddlers dancing in unison. The Bollywood number by Farasha, song by Tara Kashyap (Pori), dance duet
 by Falisha and Drishti (aptly named daughter of Nayan Goswami), group Bihu dance by Milwaukee kids, Bihu duet by Rimjhim and Isha, song duet by Aneeth and Ankith were truly a joy to behold. We were indeed mesmerized by these performances. The ladies and gentlemen were not to be outdone. God alone knows how they summoned the energy and time to deliver such finely tuned items after spending countless hours with their children’s items.
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The highlight was a song and dance masti by Indus Masti – a Chicagoland group with great talent and global aspirations comprising Dipak, Fardeen, Rituraj and Ankur. There were standout songs from Arup and group; Arundhati’s Hindi song was magnificent and the lovely couple from Michigan – Debojitda and Rumabaidew thrilled us with their duet and made a great pitch for the 34th Convention in such chaste Assamese that many needed a dictionary to understand the content fully. The songs by Dr. Kalika Sharma from Urbana were fantastic as usual. There were great solo numbers from Fardeen, Gautam Das and Ambalika that kept us glued to our seats. Then there was the inimitable Roopaba with her poetry that flowed from her heart and soul.
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What is a Bihu without dancing? This one was no exception. The Bollywood dance medley by Vasanthi, Farhana and Nibetita was spectacular. The group Bihu dance by Maitreyee, Manali, Saghamitra and Momita was gorgeous and the Odissi performance by Abhilasha Bharadwaj was rendered with dexterity and grace.

A highlight of this Rongali Bihu was a Children’s essay competition regarding Assam. Dr. Anuj Sarma (our resident Astrophysicist) welcomed the new folks in Chicagoland. It was indeed a long list. This was followed by Jatiya Xangeet performed by all with gusto. This was truly an evening to remember. 

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