This year spring comes late in New Jersey and Washington D.C. because of the snowfall. The cherry blossoms could not add to the charm of trees in New Jersey, New York and Washington DC During my stay as International Visiting Professor in the Fairleigh Dickinson University this April and May I came to know from another visiting Professor Dr Binod Khardia of Assam at present working in JNU along with his wife Nandita Bhattacharjee that the Assamese in New Jersey are quite active. In fact, two hundred or more Assamese people from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware Connecticut and Massachusetts mingled, socialized and caught up with various topics in the wonderful occasion of Rongali Bihu.
I was so much missing the festivity this spring as I came to New Jersey for an academic assignment in Fairleigh Dickinson University. But the efforts of Assamese Association of North America (AANA) and North East America Community (NEAC) make it possible for the Assamese to feel their home on the foreign soil during the Rongali Bihu days.
I read the news of Rongali Bihu celebration in the local borough news which I read in the road stand desk freely distributed for the people of the locality in the Faller Drive area of New Jersey. It was very amazing for me to see Assamese people celebrating with much fanfare their traditional festival in this land of liberty. Assamese Association of North America (AANA) is celebrating their Bihu this year too and invites the Assamese in America to Washington D.C. for 18th convention.
It had its humble beginning in 1980 when many Assamese people came to Houston for the meeting with Dr Lohit Barua taking the lead for the meeting. Assamese diaspora of North America enthusiastically joined the convention and with Atul Sarma from Louisville, Himen Barthakur from Massachusetts, Mahendra Barua from Oregon, Dr. Manoranjan Bezbaruah from Washington D.C., Nandita Sarma from Austin Texas and Dr. Hirak Patangia from Arkansas gave the leadership for taking ahead the organisation for protecting Assamese heritage and culture on the foreign land.
Dr. Parul Hazarika was the first President of the organisation. The guiding principle of AANA were to help support the cause of Assam , to serve the Assamese community in North America ,to enable cultural exchange with the adopted homeland and to foster a sense of cultural identity among the younger generation. This necessitated the Bihu celebration in America every year when the spring comes.
AANA is celebrating the 39th Assam Convention in Washington DC from June 29 to July 1, 2018 with wonderful planning to celebrate the glory of Assamese culture and enjoy the indoor as well as outdoor attractions in Washington D.C and Baltimore region. Hotel arrangements have been made at an exciting discounted rate with Hyatt Regency Dulles within minutes from the Washington Dulles International airport. This area provides tons of attractions across Potomac River and Annapolis Bay. Many guest artists from Assam will come and all are looking forward to a spectacular performance from all the regions of USA and Canada.
Rongali Bihu Adarani Utsav will be organised in the city and several families will actively participate in the Bihu dance and songs. The hall last year was wonderfully decorated with gamosas, japi, xorai, muga silk and pictures of tourist places of Assam and all North-eastern states. Great speeches are delivered stressing the importance of Assamese culture and heritage. To say briefly Rongali Bihu in Washington D.C. is a wonderful festival for the Assamese people rousing in every heart love for Assam.
Asom Sahitya Sabha, North America invites everyone to write, so that they may contribute to the annual publication of Luitor Pora Mississippi. The magazine will be released in Washington at the next Assam Convention in 2018. The magazine will publish articles, short stories, poems, discoveries and journal of experiences. Since March preparations begin for all the celebrations and till July the festive mood prevails.
Asom Sahitya Sabha America has Dr. Binoy Kumar Bardoloi as president and as Vice President Kamalakshi Hazarika to continue all the literary work. They are trying to uphold the literary heritage of Assam through this magazine. AANA arranges Bihu dance and last year Nasonis Vani Rao, Ashapurna Sharma, Anjori Dutta and Rumi Chakravarty at the India Day Celebrations nicely did Bihu dance program in a joint venture of India League of America and Michigan Asian Indian Community organisations to celebrate India’s Independence Day.
It shows that even after leaving the home state the Assamese people young or veteran did not forget Bihu celebrations. It is a cultural identity for the people. Tripti Borah and Sangeeta Dutta are singing on behalf of New Jersey Rongali Bihu Group, Nilakshi Thakuria and Sabnam are singing and dancing for Mukoli bihu in New Jersey. Assam is the home to many ethnic tribes. Varied people co-exist, each with their own pulsating dance forms and cultural heritage.
Since 2010 Rongali Bihu celebrations are getting great importance in America. Bihu is made a memorable event for all. It is a wonderful ambience when culture and heritage mingle perfectly with nature. Joy is unlimited for the few days when Rongali Bihu is celebrated. The diaspora seems to find their homeland on the foreign soil and in their deep heart the resonance is loud ‘home, home, sweet home.’
Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee is the International Visiting Faculty at Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey. He can be reached at [email protected]