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Embracing new beginnings

Surupasree Sarmmah, April 14, 2017, Deccan Herald News Service 0:06 IST
colourful display Sharmistha Gogoi (third from left) with the members of 'Assam  Society of Bangalore'.

colourful display Sharmistha Gogoi (third from left) with the members of 'Assam Society of Bangalore'.

Women dressed in the gorgeous ‘mekhla sador’, men clad in the traditional ‘dhoti’ and ‘kurta’, people dancing to the tunes of ‘dhul (drum), ‘pepa’ (an instrument made of buffalo horn) and gogona — these are the common sights in Assam during Bohag or Rongali Bihu.

This festival marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year and for the community in the city, is a time to recall fond memories.

Remembering Bihu celebrations back home, Papori Sharma says, “I remember visiting our relatives and neighbours and celebrating the festival with all enthusiasm. It is just not the same here though being with friends and family is still a wonderful way of spending this day.”

She adds, “Though I am not an expert, I still try to prepare the traditional Bihu breakfast, ‘jolpan’, that includes an assortment of flattened rice , jaggery and curd, ‘pitha’, ‘laddoo’ and tea. This is followed by a special lunch.”

Assamese groups and associations in the city have always focussed on putting together a vibrant Bihu celebration for their people and this year too, many fun-filled activities and functions await them.

Simanta Sharma, the founder and a core member of Assam Association Bangalore, says, “Our celebration has two phases this time. The first one starts today, where we have for the first time included ‘gukhai Bihu’. It involves seeking blessings from the god for a happy and prosperous New Year ahead. Then there will be a flag hoisting followed by the singing of the Assam state anthem, ‘naam prokhongo’ (a form of collective singing and chanting of devotional songs) and performances by ‘husori dal’, a group of people displaying Bihu dances and songs.”

“The second phase will mark the farewell to the first month of the new year and this will be celebrated on May 13. A few cultural programmes like bihu dance competition, traditional food making competition and so on are on the list for our guests. One can relish on the traditional dishes like ‘tenga’, ‘khar’, ‘pitha’, ‘laddoo’, ‘payasam’ and other snacks on that day,” he says, adding that the association is doing their best to recreate the same fervour and festivity that is seen back in Assam at this time.

Talking about dishes, Sharmistha Gogoi, a student of The Oxford College of Science and a member of Assam Society of Bangalore, says that the people in Assam prepare a special vegetable dish made of 101 leafy vegetables on this occasion.

This is done in order to make one’s body immune to different diseases that are common during this season.

Coming back to the celebrations, Sharmistha says, “Every year, Assam Society of Bangalore organises Bihu in a fun way. Apart from different cultural programs, we also have games like ‘Tekeli bhonga’, where a person is blindfolded and has to break an earthen pot, and ‘koni juj’, which is a fun egg fight. These games are an integral part of traditional Bihu celebrations.”

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