Greetings to all of you from Chicago, The Windy City!
It is truly an honor and privilege for me to serve as President, Asom Sahitya Sabha, North America (ASSNA) for the next two years, 2013-2015. I am delighted to have my childhood friend Dilara Boruah of Los Angeles, California, as Vice President, ASSNA.
As most of you know, Asom Sahitya Sabha ("Assam Literary Society") is a non-government, nonprofit, literary organization of Assam. It was founded in Assam in December, 1917, to promote the culture of Assam and Assamese literature. With its central office located in Jorhat, Assam, it presently has about one thousand branches with offices all over Assam and outside of Assam.
Forever a student of history, I am motivated to reflect on the stories of our past - true stories that are the footprints of history. Here is one for you, recalled by Dr. Deva Borah, President, Assam Association of North America (AANA) on the evolution of the current name of the organization ASSNA:
The Story behind the Name ASSNA
Back in early 1990s, there was a 'house-warming' gathering and 'Naam-prosongo' at Mr. and Mrs. Dilip and Sangeeta Choudhury's home in the upstate New York. Dr. Deva Borah was the president of Asom Sahitya Sabha, US Branch, at that time. He presented a proposal to change it to a more suitable name and suggested a few names. Based on that, Dr. Debabrata Sarma (now living in Seattle) proposed the name Asom Sahitya Sabha, North America (ASSNA). Everyone present, including Dr. Kripanath Bora, Dr. Brojen Boroloi, and many others accepted the new name. Moreover, it rhymed with AANA and AFNA, the other two Assamese organizations in the country. Thus, ASSNA was named. When we write, let us be mindful to spell it correctly as ASSNA - and not as ASNA or ASNNA.
I would like to claim that my association with Asom Sahitya Sabha began at an early age! Kindly allow me to return, for a moment, to my own childhood. When I was just three years old, I was admitted to a newly opened Montessori school, "Balya Bhaban" in Jorhat, Assam. The school did not have its own building yet; so we, a handful of tiny tots, attended school for a few years at the "Chandrakanta Handique Bhaban" premises. Incidentally, that same building has served as the headquarters of 'Asom Sahitya Sabha' for a long time now. When I visit Jorhat next, I plan to visit the offices, on behalf of ASSNA.
ASSNA's primary duty has been to publish the annual Luitor Pora Mississippi magazine before each Assam Convention. I also believe, we are at the crossroads of a unique and new challenge. When the older generation of Assamese who are proficient in the native language gradually passes on the torch to the younger generation, it is inevitable that ASSNA will take a different course. We are very pleased to see a large number of children participating in Assamese cultural activities during the conventions and local Bihus, thanks to the children's willingness to learn and the parents' efforts to teach. We can still retain our Assamese language (to a certain extent) in this country through our youngsters if we all work together. In the upcoming AANA Newsletter, ASSNA will open a new door for us, offering to keep the flame of our Assamese language and culture lit. I would like to invite and welcome you to join me in this endeavor.
I look forward to serving you as President, ASSNA, and welcome any suggestions that you may have which will help me serve ASSNA better. Thank you for your goodwill and support.
With warm wishes,
President, ASSNA [2013 - 2015]
Note: ASSNA (Asom Sahitya Sabha, North America) has been using both 'Asom' and 'Assam' interchangeably. When ASSNA was named, they used 'Asom'. I am following the tradition.
It has been a truly memorable couple of years for me and the entire AANA executive:
Dr. Gautam L Baruah – President
Mrs. Roopa Sharma – Vice-President
Mrs. Ranu Dutta – General Secretary
Dr. Deva Borah - Treasurer
Throughout our tenure, the guiding principles have been to maintain the lofty traditions of the past committees of bringing the expatriate Assamese community together through our Annual conventions, newsletters, directory and Luhitor Pora Mississipi. Our main focus was to streamline our activities and grow our organization so that AANA could undertake bigger projects in the future. Our achievements over the tenure spanning 2011 to 2013:
- Opening a new and vibrant website- www.AANAhome.org
- Boosting life membership significantly
- Convention guidelines – passed in the annual general body meeting (AGBM) in 2012 at Calgary
- Convention White paper- passed in AGBM in 2013 at Detroit
- Facilitating the conventions at Calgary, Detroit, and finalization of venue for Assam Convention in the Northeast in 2014.
We were particularly satisfied to have generated the Convention White Paper that encapsulates all the aspects of convention organization ranging from Hotel contracts, Budgets and Program content. It has several helpful guidelines, samples and templates. This document has received invaluable inputs from our community stalwarts and previous organizers. We thank them for their expertise and dedication. Due to the relatively small population of Assamese expatriates spread over vast distances, organizing the Assam Convention is a complex venture. We hope this will facilitate Conventions for future organizers. Although we lived apart from each other, there was a remarkable level of co-ordination and cohesion through our conference calls and AGBMs. This is what has made it possible for us to achieve so much in just two years.
As we pass the baton over to the next executive, I exhort you to join our organization. If you have a desire to contribute to our culture, champion worthy causes or want your voice to be heard, join us. Together we could work miracles. You may not need the community but the community needs you. The common refrain from the people from Assam is: “Please enlighten us on how you execute business, education, healthcare and projects”. This is where the Assamese technocrats in USA and Canada could come up with guidelines and best practices in their respective areas. AANA provides the perfect platform for you to put together great ideas and make good things happen in Assam.
It has indeed been an honor to serve the community over the last two years. Hope to meet many of you in future conventions and elsewhere.
Best wishes and warm regards,
Dr. Gautam L Baruah
Outgoing President, AANA
Happy Rongali Bihu and Assamese New year to all of you! Kaleidoscopic, rejuvenation, youth and exuberance are a few words that capture the essence of the Rongali Bihu festivities in North America. You will read articles about our beautiful and vibrant Diasporas from Chicago, Calgary, Atlanta, Michigan, Toronto, North Carolina, New Jersey, Boston, Washington State, Washington DC, Arizona, Minnesota, Houston and Dallas. This wide spread is the hallmark of a community that has found its feet in these vast lands. Amidst all the fun and gaiety, we should remember and observe a moment of silence for our near and dear – stalwarts who have led and guided us. Their poignant stories are at the end of this newsletter. Let us also pray for the departed souls and the wounded in Aurora, Milwaukee, Newtown, and Boston.
Our organization, AANA, promotes Assamese culture and brings the Assamese community together through our Annual conventions for the last 34 years. We deliver the Bihu celebrations and other community news to the doorstep of the Assamese families of North America through our quarterly newsletters. This year we have focused on two aspects: Streamlining of the Convention Organization Process and Membership enrollment. We have generated a White Paper, (to be approved at our AGM in Detroit) that encapsulates all the aspects of convention organization with helpful guidelines, samples and templates. We have picked the brains of our community stalwarts and previous organizers for this effort. We hope this will facilitate Conventions for future organizers. AFNA, our sister organization, focuses on social welfare and charities aimed at alleviating the suffering of some of the under privileged folks back home. Another sister organization of ours, ASSNA is the North American chapter of the Asom Sahitya Sabha. It has been providing an excellent platform to those among us of literary bent and who have great tales to recount. All this excellent work by our umbrella organizations has been made possible due to the unflagging enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of a band of tireless folks. If you have a desire to contribute to our culture, champion worthy causes or want your voice to be heard, I exhort you to join our organization. Together we could work miracles. I will take this moment to welcome several new members who joined our fold during the Assam Convention at Calgary and thereafter. We provide the Assamese directory, Luitor Pora Mississipi free with our nominal annual membership of $40 apart from a $25 discount at our conventions. The membership forms are available in this newsletter.
In case you have been very busy and have not yet heard about the 34th Assam Convention at Detroit, please read all about it in the following pages. The early bird discount is available till May 15th only. Most importantly, the hotel rooms are going very fast. The host committee from Michigan has planned a truly magnificent fare for all of us to enjoy. Do not miss this great opportunity to be transported to 3 days of cultural bliss. It is not too late to book your tickets and register for the SUPER 34th Assam Convention, 2013 at Detroit. See you all at Detroit in a few weeks.
Best wishes and warm regards,
Dr. Gautam L Baruah