Warm greetings from the snow-covered Windy City beautiful Chicago!
As I read the Magh-Bihu news from different regions of the USA and Canada and look at the celebration-pictures in this Newsletter, I marvel at how well our community unites to preserve our heritage, culture, and time-honored traditions. Nowadays, during Magh Bihu, cities in Assam are brimming with Bihu-stalls selling 'pitha, laroo, aakhoi, hurum, ghotor doi' and cream, as well as other kinds of ethnic food. Most families take advantage of the convenience of ready-made Assamese delicacies, while also helping the vendors financially. As that change is occurring in Assam, in this far-away land, our Assamese ladies and gentlemen are happily making 'pitha' and 'laroo' from scratch, sometimes even improvising, by substituting sticky rice for 'bora saul' to make 'til diya pitha'. It is indeed heart-warming to see that effort, and of course, the vibrant children learning about their cultural roots and enjoying the festivities!
Now, slowly but surely, the spring season is knocking at our doors. Soon, the sunny daffodils will bloom, "fluttering and dancing in the breeze". The flowering trees will paint the landscape in beautiful colors. And celebrate we will...because then comes April, a month so dear to every Assamese and we will celebrate our 'bapoti xahun' Rongali Bihu - the Assamese jewel.
As Dr. Bhupen Hazarika said:
"Bohag mathu eti writu nohoi,
This summer, the 34th Assam Convention will be held in Detroit and the organizers are gearing up for it. We invite each one of you to help make the event a grand success. Please remember that AANA and AFNA members will receive a registration discount. For further information, please log on to the AANA website at http://www.aanahome.org/ or visit the convention website directly.
On behalf of AANA executives, it is my pleasure to wish you all a happy Rongali Bihu and a happy, prosperous, and peaceful Assamese New Year.
Long live AANA.
With warm wishes,
Vice President, AANA
Note: Dr. Gautam Lal Baruah, President, AANA is currently out of the country. In his absence, Ms. Roopa Sharma, the Vice President of AANA, has contributed this column.
Monoranjan Bezboruah, President, ASSNA
ASSNA wishes a belated Happy New Year to each and every one amongst us. Although it is only February, this is just a forward note about contributions to the forthcoming issue of the LPM. As usual, our next LPM will be published as part of the AANA Convention to be hosted by our members in the Detroit area. We will begin a rolling collection of articles, essays, stories, poems, personal experiences, and observations etc. from the month of March 2013. The deadline for contribution to the 2013 LPM is May 31, 2013.
Asom Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat branch held the "Bakul Banar Kabi" (Late Ananda Chandra Baruah) award and recognition ceremony on January 27, 2013, and ASSNA was represented there. The Bakul Banar Kabi Trust chose a remarkably talented down to earth --man of the soil-- Loka Badyak for this year's award and recognition. Srijut Dugtha Malakar, from Pathsala, is 90+ in age, but is still spritely and agile. He had no formal education as such, but has acquired a status of great respect and admiration as an ace player of every conceivable instrument associated with Vaymaman Theater. He stated that he began playing instruments on his own and began also acting as Chokra in the various Roving Theatre groups. He has had the privilege of playing for and being associated with the greatest artists from our Assam. It was an eye-opener to see the needed recognition of the importance of our Loka Sanskriti and Loka lores while the Indian nation manifests the great bonding and purposefulness in considering the country as One Nation aspiring to reclaim her erstwhile glory and elan!
On ward we move, with the ASSNA planning to be present at the Asom Sahitya Sabha annual gathering in Borpeta during the first few days of February, 2013.
We mourn the sudden and tragic passing of our own Dr. Jawahar Barua of Texas. Let us collectively pray for his eternal rest in heaven. May God give strength to his immediate and extended family to cope with this terrible loss!
This edition of our Newsletter is dedicated to our Assam Convention 2012 at Calgary, Canada. For those of us who had the good fortune to attend, this was truly a convention of great beauty and finesse. The tireless Host committee skillfully wove a splendid tapestry spanning the reverberating music and dance of the Brahmaputra valley, soulful Goalporia lokogeet, the trumpeting of elephants, Bollywood dhamaka punctuated by riveting western melodies. In many ways, this convention also marked for us a transition from the days of our venerable bard, Bhupenda to the modern generation. The baton exchange literally occurred, when Bhupenda’s eternal music, rekindled wonderfully by his son Tej and sister Stuty, was followed by the ebullient music of the guest artistes Dikshu and Barnali and the young folks of Calgary and Edmonton. Read all about the enchanting programs in the following collages.
AANA President Gautam Lal Baruah speaking at the 2012 Assam Convention Calgary
during Inauguration. (To his right Mrs. Anu Borah, AFNA Board of Director
and left Hon. Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Services Alberta)
In the fun and excitement, we sometimes forget the great challenges faced in hosting such a convention. It has been recognized by several past organizers including the present executive body, that our Annual Assam Convention is quite a complex endeavor due to its continent wide ambit, financial liquidity and solvency issues, challenges in obtaining artistes visas, negotiation of favorable hotel contracts, media promotion etc. While several host committees have embraced these challenges whole heartedly, it is also true that in many cases the wheel had to be reinvented and unforeseen hurdles had to be overcome. This has, on several occasions, diminished the element of joy among the organizers and is counter to the essence of these conventions. Therefore, “The Guidelines for Hosting the Assam Convention” were introduced at the Annual General Body Meeting by the AANA President to facilitate a smooth transition from one convention to the next and to remove the road bumps in convention execution. This was the culmination of countless discussions among the AANA executive body over several months. These guidelines were an attempt to distill the experience of past convention organizers into a few concise bullet-points covering the main organizational aspects of the convention. A lively discussion ensued following the presentation, after which the Assam Convention Guidelines were unanimously approved by the AANA members present.
I take this opportunity to welcome several new Life and Annual members into our fold. God bless you. The tireless volunteers of the umbrella organizations of AANA, AFNA and ASSNA work ceaselessly to promote Assamese culture, literature and social uplift. We exhort you to join this family and contribute to these noble causes. The forms are available in this newsletter. We are grateful to the Calgary Host Committee for the fantastic convention. Their story was a labor of love, perseverance and guts triumphing against daunting financial and logistical challenges. The 34th Assam Convention, 2013 will be at Detroit, Michigan. Read about it in this issue and mark your calendars for a really stupendous convention in Detroit in 2013. See you there.
- Best wishes and regards,
Dr. Gautam L Baruah, President, AANA