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April 2014

Marubhumir Kopou

মৰু ভূমমৰ কপ ৌ

Presented by Assamese Cultural Society of Arizona

Photography and gardening by Ankita Das

Foreword There was a time when print magazines and newspapers used to be the only mode of publication. There was value in the physical print media, and people loved to spend time reading them. With the advent of computers, and now tablets and smartphones, in an era of super-publications, where everyone can create and distribute content in the form of electronic blogs or micro-blogs using twitter, facebook, instagram, etc., who has the time to read yet another magazine? Who needs another magazine when the world is full of news, articles and photos that we hardly have time to go through? Who needs another magazine when you can hardly keep up with your cousin’s status updates about tonight’s dinner, or your sister-in-law’s status update of her kitty parties, or even worse, the selfie of your teacher from high school? The simple answer is “no one but us”. We, the folks that belong to the Assamese Cultural Society of Arizona, decided we need a magazine for ourselves. In spite of all the media in the world, we felt the need to express and the need to show our artistic and literary talent, however miniscule that is compared to the rest of the world. The bombarded media can also be quite distorted, often depicting a narrow view or worse, hiding most of the intrinsic virtues of the world. The ability to articulate our culture, our thoughts and our beliefs has become more important than ever before.

Like any other community, the Assamese community in Arizona started very small. We started celebrating Bihu several years back. It started with a simple livingroom affair to now a reserved hall with enthusiastic children and grown-ups ready to show off their cultural talent. For the first time ever we bought a “dhol” for the community and had a real “husori”, among other programs. This is also the first year we are publishing this electronic magazine. Happy Bihu!

In this issue বিহু - এটি চমু আল োচনো 4 Bihu Dancer 7 The Wheels Keep Rolling 8 Sketch of Kamakhya Temple 10 মমোৰ আলমবৰকো ভ্রমনৰ অনুভৱ 11 Indian Pesto Vegetables Recipe 14 Turmoil 16

Himalayas 19 Tea Gardens of Assam 20 Shapes 21 Center Spread - Pictures of Assam 22 Barpeta - The Land of Satras 24 Husky and Friends 26 A Small Step To Save Big 27 Google Doodle 28

Message From Karuna Bhuyan 28 নিির্ষ 29 Dr. Bhupen Hazarika 30 My Spring Break 32 অসমী 33 An Interview with Bihu Ojha 34 2014 Bihu Celebration in Phoenix 41

Magazine put together and foreword by: Neon Talukdar Reviewed by: Ankita Das, Paramita Saha & Randeep Goswami Magazine cover painting: Binoy Saha © 2014 Assamese Cultural Society of Arizona

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Bihu Dancer

- Prokriti Saha

About the Artist: Prokriti is a lot into arts and crafts and prefers to tackle such a project in her own way. She's also eager to learn how to bake all sorts of delicacies. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 7

The Wheel Keeps Rolling Satyabrata Sharma I went out of home around 9 years back when I had to leave for NIT Silchar for my Bachelors degree. Since then, it has only been for vacations that I have visited my home, my hometown Guwahati. After Silchar it was a brief period in Haldia, then a year in Chennai and finally Bengaluru. I was never at home, but never very far. Things changed last year after I landed here in Tempe, Arizona, following my long time dream of getting a degree from a US university. It was long due, but the dream finally saw the 'light of the day'. This was my new home, so far far away from home. When I came, I was said that once I reach the US the following things would happen: Jet lag for a few days, then excitement of coming to US for a week may be, followed by cultural shock, then home sickness and then slow acceptance. Well, cultural shock came first. I experienced the much dreaded jet lag about a week after reaching Tempe. I reached the acceptance stage soon though. I am adjusting to the American way of living, I guess. Here, as much as I have been amazed by the people and the amount of effort they have put into making this country, I have, from day 1, missed the 'Godhuli'r Singra', the occasional 'Ros Molai' and the sadak ka Chicken Noodles, the Egg Fried Rice, the Chicken Momos etcetera. I have missed having countless shops just outside my door, giving free home delivery of anything I want, at a phone call. I have missed the Durga Pujas, Diwalis and Mom's freshly made Pithas and Narikol Laarus on Bihu and what not. Sigh. But that's a part of the package deal I guess. You get some, you lose some.

But it has been an experience like nothing else. School (for some reason, here you go to 'school' after college) has kept me busy. With studies, I also have to manage my work. Currently, I work as a teaching assistant and I get to teach students Java programming while helping them with their assignments. As a part of my job, I meet young undergrad students from all parts of the world, interact with them and learn so much while teaching. This has been one of the best things that has happened to me in a very long time. 'Teaching is rewarding' they say.

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I have recently joined the Oxomiya community here in Arizona and have been having a jolly good time, meeting people from home every weekend for Bihu practice, which is but an excuse to get together, spend some jolly good time and have some awesome food every week. In this process, I have met some of the most awesome, fun loving people here in the US. The enthusiasm and passion that I have seen in these people of celebrating Bihu and also teaching the children about our culture and tradition is simply amazing. Also is amazing the culinary skills of all the bhabhis. Bihu practice is all the more exciting for the food that's on the table. How much I am going to miss all the food after Bihu night!! (Anyone catch my drift here?) All in all, I have had a lot of new experiences after moving to the USA. I have met some amazing people and seen some nice places. I recently had a road trip to the Grand Canyons and had an experience of a lifetime. It was one of the few moments in life when you are left speechless and searching for words. Never had I experienced such magnificence in my life. I have many more trips planned to the Canyons, one short trip is simply not enough. I look forward to more new experiences and meeting amazing people in this journey. The wheel keeps rolling, the journey goes on.

About me: I was born and brought up in Guwahati and currently pursuing Masters in Science in Computer Science from Arizona State University. I completed my Bachelors in 2009 and worked for a few years in India as a software developer before coming here. I am a biker-at-heart, an amateur musician and a total foodie. I love exploring new places, new cultures, meeting new people and trying new food. I dream of owning a NorthEast Indian cuisine special restaurant chain someday in India.

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Sketch of Kamakhya Temple, Assam - Diya Nath

About the Artist: I am a 3rd grade student in Ryan Elementary , Chandler . I love drawing and singing and playing tennis. I am learning drawing under Miss Swarna Sitaram and she is very nice. I will be learning water colors now. In music my teacher Manu Srivastava is very strict but we all like him too. I also like reading a lot. I am also learning Odissi dance from my mom. I have a brother, Jyotishman, who is learning the tabla. I love my family.

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Indian Pesto Vegetables Recipe Nikita Bhuyan

This delicious dish is healthy and easy to make even by the kids.

Ingredients used: 

1 lb (5-6 red potatoes) Cubed and Cooked;

2 Cups Cubed and Cooked Fresh Green Bean;

1 ½ Cup Cilantro;

1 Cup Mint;

1 Lemon;

2 Tsp Curry Powder;

½ Cup Cashews;

½ Cup Olive Oil; and

Salt and Pepper.

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Direction: 1. Blend cilantro, mint, cashews and juice of 1 lemon in a food processor. 2. Add curry powder and season with salt and pepper. 3. In a steady stream, slowly add enough olive oil to create a paste. 4. Heat a pan on medium low, and add pesto and vegetables. Heat through for 2 minutes.

Serve and enjoy as a side dish (picture shown as Side dish to a Salmon dish)!

About me:

I am a Junior (11th grade) high school student. Cooking has been my passion since I was 7 years old. However, I come from a family background where trying varieties of food dishes was considered a luxury and out of ordinary activities. My interest in cooking was developed through watching cooking shows and my mother cook traditional meals and tasting variety of international dishes. Please visit and “Like” my Facebook page and my Blog: for few of my recipes and cooking shows. In addition to cooking, I love to dance which I have been doing since 2002. I speak Assamese fluently and love making conversation in this language especially with kids of our community. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 15

Turmoil A Short Story

Ankita Das


he sun penetrated its rays through the ventilators and curtain slits, marking the beginning of yet another day.

“Only twenty-four more hours to go and the deadline will end” she remembered with a shudder and said a quick prayer to herself. She had the habit of murmuring quick prayers whenever she felt desolate. The morning brought her a fresh grip of pain and despair. Something inside her felt very heavy. She didn’t know what but she hoped it would rather burst – for she thought it would release the pain and lighten her mind. What she felt was not sheer pain. It was pain paired with utter rage. She was angry at her helplessness. People who came to console her designated this event in her life to fate, destiny. But she was someone who would, if she could, hold destiny by its horns and twist it according to her will.

She had been in a stupor for the last two days, stupefied by the circumstances she found herself in. Most of the time she tried hard to find justification for what was transpiring. “Why did it have to be us… how do they pick their target… if it was random then how did it serve their cause… why do they involve innocent people… and they proclaim themselves as revolutionaries? Cowards!” April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 16

Two days had elapsed since that dismal day, the traumatic moment still lingered with her, rendering her sleepless, leading to anxious days and nights. She rose from the bed and saw her reflection on the mirror. She appeared a total wreck with her disheveled hair and dark circles beneath her eyes. She felt forlorn, akin to a lone tree in the midst of a huge field that had borne the brunt of devastating storm. Her husband’s face flashed in her mind and she thought, “Where could he be now… are they treating him right… those so called harbingers of the separatist movement… do they know how to treat a gentle creature like him?” Fresh emotions surged in her and she once again broke down to tears. Her mother came to her side and embraced her tenderly, she sobbed convulsively at the warmth of this gesture. “Have patience Neha… by the grace of God everything will be all right”, these barely intelligible words escaped from her mother’s mouth and both women wept together. “Fate… destiny… God… was that all people in her vicinity can offer to say… her husband’s life is in stake with a handful of insurgents… why can’t they make a mass appeal… why don’t anyone dare to defy them?” these thoughts crossed her mind for the hundredth time now. Neha vividly remembers Gaurav’s first visit to her parents’ home. It was one of those early days of spring on the onset of the local spring festival. She liked him immensely on that first meeting; she loved

his unassuming nature, his sensitivity, and his brilliance. His compassionate nature and sense of humor matched hers. They were married in less than a month after that first visit. She accompanied her husband and had come to this remote and small town in the northeastern part of the country. The excitement of living so close to the majestic Himalayas relegated the danger of residing in a strife -torn region of the country. The eternal mountains seemed to preside over the luscious beauty of the place, mocking the ongoing conflict between the state government and the separatists. The mountains have been silent witness to thoughtless violence and gruesome killings. How futile! How vain are the attempts of these people to gain authority when it seems those mighty mountains reign supreme over this serene place. “How hard is it to believe beneath such tranquility lies so much unrest”, Gaurav had once said. She agreed. She was so very fascinated by the lush greenery, the tall ageless mountains, the pristine lakes, the refreshing springs, little did she ruminate over the existing turmoil in the region. They were never engulfed in the fear psychosis that seemed to rule over the hearts of the local peace-loving people. They were like two migratory birds making home of a new found habitat undeterred by the follies of civilization. She laughed away the fears of her parents about the possible dangers of the place. The activities of the insurgents found place in the newspaper everyday. But theirs was a harmonious existence, untouched by the precarious environment, engrossed in the first flush of married life. “I love it here, this place gives me absolute bliss. Let us make it our home, let us not go back”, Gaurav often made such comments during their long walks though the mountains.

Life is fleeting, insubstantial and full of paradoxes. Their euphoria too didn’t last long. Gaurav had come home early. They went out for their usual long walk past the dense woods. She ventured into the woods to have a look at the beautiful orchid she saw the other day. Gaurav opted to stay by the road; orchids didn’t interest him much. It was still there! She felt a sudden surge of happiness at the sight of the wild flower. It was a feeling of absolute bliss. She almost danced her way out of the forest to be where her husband was. She wanted to be near him, to share her feelings with him. Her heart gave a jolt as she reached the edge of the forest – two gunmen were shoving her husband into a car. A barely audible cry escaped her lips as she saw the car speeding off. She stood there rooted to the ground, thunderstruck and immobile. At her wits’ end she kept on looking as the car vanished – her large dark eyes dilated, her mouth parted shaping into a big “O”. “It was a kidnapping! But who would kidnap her husband?” these thoughts struggled onto her mind. Some emotion began to cloud over her frozen face. Her face twitched with anguish and she started crying hysterically. The harrowing episode had jolted her out of her complacency. Her free spirit gave way to constant anxiety and agitation. Now she too was enveloped in the all-pervading terror let loose by the activities of the rebels. The insurgents had taken her husband hostage to use him as a pawn for the release of an important leader of their organization – that’s how the newspapers flashed their headlines – that’s what the police had to say. Gaurav Kapoor – from an anonymous bank employee – have suddenly become a pawn in the bone of contention between the government and the separatists. He will be killed if the insurgent leader is not released within three days. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 17

It’s been two days of unendurable suffering and agitation for Neha – in her never-ending anticipation for her husband to return. All the acquaintances she and Gaurav made during their eight-month stay in that place thronged their home to sympathize with her. “That’s all they could do… sympathize” the thought irritated her much. Her mother had come down from their distant native place to offer some form of consolation but with little success. The third day brought some form of hope – hope that her ordeal will be over soon. “They will release him soon… he is an innocent man… why should he bear the brunt of a political bickering of which he is not a part”, she ruminated searching for some silver lining in a morose situation. She had read somewhere about the altruism of the insurgents. “They are fighting against a system and Gaurav is not a part of that.” Those ponderings gave her some kind of reprieve, inspiring in her some hope. She was in one of these moods when she heard the doorbell ring. The sight of a couple of policeman brightened up her face. “Perhaps they had brought news about Gaurav’s release…” She knew those separatists had some form of ideals. “They must not harm him, he’s an innocent man” she thought and her lips widened into a faint smile. “Mrs. Kapoor, we have some news for you” said the shorter policeman with a thin moustache.

“Yes?” she gave a questioning look, her eyebrows raised and her lips slit apart. “Your husband… we found his body this morning at the edge of the woods. He had four bullet marks, two on his legs, and two on his back. It seems they killed him while he made a bid to escape.” “It can’t be…” these words lunged out of her mouth and she could speak no more. She stood there like a robot, stunned and immobile, her eyes blank. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 18

She didn’t cry then, nor later. A month of mourning passed. Her heart was too numb with pain… but her mind was animated with numerous thoughts. She refused to accompany her mother and go back to their native place. She decided to stay on and fight against the terrorism that disrupted the lives of one and all. Gaurav wanted to make this place their home; she will fulfill his aspiration. She will stay on eradicate the malady that has afflicted this lovely and serene place. She wrote an open letter to the insurgent group. “Your ideals and aspirations may have been altruistic. But your love for meaningless bloodshed had dimmed the luster of your ideals. We, the people, refuse to sacrifice our happiness at the altar of your thoughtless violence. We will strive for peace.”


- Srijon Saha

About the Artist: Srijon has a lively personality and loves karate, chess, badminton & cricket and other sports. He also loves to visit new places. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 19

Tea Gardens in Assam

Photography: Randeep Goswami April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 20

Shapes — Rishan Talukdar

I am a shape I could be flat or solid, I could have a face, vertex, or edge, Sometimes even none.

I could be broken, Also could be split. I can also roll, Also I can sit.

Everything needs a shape,

Even though the shape doesn’t have a name. It could be multiple shapes That make one shape.

So feel lucky, If things were shapeless Things would look confusing, Even you’re a shape, be happy to be shapes.

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Center Spread - Pictures of Assam Photography: Vikramjit Kakati

About the photographer: Vikaramjit Kakati is a Chartered Engineer and he is presently pursuing PhD from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati in Industrial Design. His photos, including the ones displayed here, have been published in various international media like Washington Post , Wall Street journal , Times of India, etc .

Dhansiri Mukh

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Dihing at

t Namrup

Salna Bari, Sonitpur District



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Barpeta - The Land of Satras Compiled by Ajanta Talukdar Located in Assam, the North-Eastern province of India, Barpeta Satra is a holy site of the Vaishnavite devotees. This five hundred years old institution has established a completely distinguished identity among all the Vaishnavite Satra (monasteries) in Assam. Sri Madhav Dev, the chief disciple of Srimanta Sankar Dev, the exponent of “ek saran hari nam dharma” established this great pith of Vashnavite religion, and the devotees all over Assam consider it as the Boikuntha. Among the three important religious sites i.e. Madhupur (Kochbihar), Barpeta and Kamalabari (upper Assam), Barpeta Satra is regarded as the binding for cohesion of these Satras. The religious and cultural tradition of Barpeta Satra is very ancient and diverse. Barpeta Satra is one of the largest and powerful Satra of Assam. Mahapurush Madhab Dev was the founder of the Barpeta Satra, also known as "Than" at that time. Mathura Das Ata was a disciple of Madhab Dev and requested the Mahapurush to come down to Barpeta. Sri Sri Madhab Deva founded the Barpeta Satra 500 years back and stayed here for 8 long year, where he has written lots of his best literature. He left the Satra after giving the responsibilities to his disciple Sri Mathura Das Burha Aata who later took care of Satra and he became the First Satria of Barpeta Satra. It was Burha Aata who systematized the administration of the station of the Satra leading to development of the institution and the religion of Barpeta. The Satras have several buildings; the front gate is called ‘Batsora’. The main ‘Kirtanghar’ is where the prayers or ‘Nam Kirtan’ are performed is an architectural splendor. All the ‘Bhakat’ or ‘devotees' discussed all kinds of problems in the ‘Jagamohan Griha’. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 24

Kirtan ghar: - It is worth mentioning that the present Kirtanghar is the outcome of reconstruction for the sixth time. The Kirtanghar was first constructed by Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhab Dev, the founder of Barpeta Satra, using locally available construction materials such as bamboo, thatch etc. in the year 1583. The main entrance is in the west while the Bhag ghar is in the east. There is no statue of any God or Goddess inside the Kirtan ghar. There are three Guru Ashan which are associated with the name of Sri Sankar Dev, Madhab Dev and Mathura Das Burha Ata. According to the general faith these three Guru Ashan are dedicated towards Lord Krishna in a composite form. There are seven Bar Sarais (great sarais), which are kept in a line before the Guru Ashan. The original spots on which Madhab Dev and the reader of the Bhagavata (Bhagavati) used to sit were not disturbed, and this is the reason these two seats are behind the Guru-Ashan today. Bhaj Ghar: – This is also known as Monikut, and valuable ornaments of gold and silver are kept in this area. The Akhay Banti (earth lamp continuously lighten up more than 500 years) is in the Bhaj Ghar. The Bhaj Ghar is established in the east side of Kirtan Ghar in the north-south position. The architectural style of the Bhaj Ghar is unique. Pat Chang: – The Pat Chang also carries a special architectural style. The Pat Chang is made of wood and tin. It is constructed parallel to the Bhaj Ghar. The floor of the Pat Chang is five feet above from the ground. Some special meetings are held here. Basically religious and administrative issues of the Satra are discussed here.

Khatkhati Ghat: – There is a tiny canal running to the side of Satra complex. It was known as Khatkhati Jan (canal). Shree Madhab Dev, the great disciple of Srimanta Sankar Dev used to bathe along with other bhakats in this canal. For this purpose steps (khatkhati) was constructed with stones. Hence, it was known as Khatkhati Ghat. It bears the memories of Great Madhab Dev. The beauty of this Jan is really attractive. There are some statues of child Krishna in the water of the Jan (canal). A modern guest house is constructed at the east bank of the canal. Traditional boat race were organized in this Jan. Math: – The Math in the Barpeta Satra is similar to the architectural style of Ahom king. Some precious Sankar–Madhab memorabilia are kept in the Math i.e. a piece of stone (used by Shrimanta Sankar Dev and Shri Madhab Dev to wash their feet). Every morning and evening Prasanga (prayers) are performed and two traditional lamps are lit in the Math. It is a general belief that no one tells a lie in front of the Math. Sri Ram Ata's Bhiti: – The house (Bhiti means house) of Sri Ram Ata was established opposite to that of Shri Madhab Dev’s house. Nowadays one well is constructed there. The water of that well is assumed as pure and is used in all the works of the Satra.

Burha Ata's Bhiti: - In the north-east position of the Satra there is a small but beautiful house. Mathura Das Ata spent his last days in this house as he could wholly concentrate on the holy works. Bhagawat Griha:- It is an open (without wall) English letter L-shaped house. It is used as a prayer house, and every day in the morning and in the evening people come to listen to the Bhagawat. During Doul

or Holi, the Bhagawat house is used as temporary medical house. Sabha Ghar: - Sabha Ghar is also an open house in the north-west position of the Kirtan Ghar. General meeting of “Samoh Bhakat” (Community) are held here. There is a small house in the north side of the Sabha ghar which is known as Jagamohan Ghriha. Large number of followers came to Barpeta and accepted the Vaishnava faith irrespective of their caste, high or low, which created an egalitarian society. A new work culture developed among the followers. For centuries, the Barpeta Satra has been celebrating yearly festivals that showcase cultural richness and tradition of the region. "Doul Festival" is the most famous among the festivals. It is always celebrated during "Holi" along with other parts of India. Holi is the festival of color in India and one of the most celebrated events in the country. At Barpeta, Mathura Das Bura Ata first celebrated Doul festival in the model of Vaikuntha. Conclusion: - The Barpeta Kirtan Ghar is the centre of Neo-Vaishnavite culture of Assam. In 2000 the Sangeet Natak Academy recognized Satriya Nritya as a classical dance, yet after that the state government has not taken any bold initiative for the conservation and preservation of the same. Thousand bighas of land belonging to Barpeta Satra is under illegal possession. It is high time that something is done for the preservation, conservation and development of Barepta Kirtan Ghar. The Assamese community should come together and consciously make an effort for the greater interest of this unique place.

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Sthuthi Das

Ice Cream

Snow Leopard

Arctic Fox All About me:

Hi, I am Sthuthi Das and what I like to do in my free time is read and draw new things. My favorite places to go are California, Florida (Tampa), India and Texas. In the meantime, playing with my dog is one of my favorite things. I am really scared of icky things, mostly flies. I like to do ballet. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 26

Neil Bhuyan

A Small Step To Save Big Water is the source of life. Wasting water is a bad thing considering there is a small amount of fresh water on Earth. Let’s think about a small step that can make a difference in saving water. Every time you brush your teeth, do you let the faucet water run? If you do, it wastes a lot of water from one of Arizona’s main sources of water, the Colorado River. The average person usually spends 2 minutes brushing their teeth in the morning and at night. As per information collected from Department of Environmental Quality office, in 2012, there were about 1.49 million people in Phoenix. So Phoenix residents spend more than 2,980,000 minutes brushing their teeth everyday! Water from the faucet flows about 2.2 gallons per minute. That makes the average yearly water amount used by Phoenix residents brushing their teeth and leaving their faucet running being approximately 2,393 million gallons of water! This amount of water could fill up about 3,800 Olympic pools, which is a lot. Turning off the faucet while you brush can make a huge impact. It is never too late to start, anytime time is right to save some water!

About me: I am a 7th grade middle school student. I love reading different comics and story books in general. I started going to track and field team at my school and I love it. I can understand and speak Assamese fluently and enjoy making conversation with other kids who know and/or try to learn. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 27

Google Doodle

Sanmaan Das

About the Artist I am Sanmaan Das, I love tigers. I love to rescue animals and take care of them. I love to be a wildlife biologist.

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নিির্ষ বেমি উদয় হ’ি নতু ন মদগন্তত, ৰ ু মনক বেমি মদপিো

োহৰমনৰ গভভ ত,

নতু পন সদোয় মদপয় জন্ম প্রতযোশোৰ, জীৱপন গমত িয় আশোৰ বহপদোিমন েোটত ।

আকোশ, েতোহ সকপিো বেন নতু ন, মোনুহৰ নতু নৰ সংজ্ঞোত বেন মই মেভ্রোন্ত, সময়ৰ মনৰমেমিন্ন বসোোঁতত আপি জোপনো, ক’মো েো ডোমৰৰ অমিত্ব?

বজোন, বেমি, তৰো আৰু অেুজন জীৱই, সময়ৰ বসোতোঁ ত কপৰ েোত্রো মনৰপৱ, নতু ন,

ুৰমনৰ মোয়োজোি ফোমি,

জীৱপেষ্ঠ মোনুহক কপৰ বভঙু িোমি ।

- সত্যবিত্ িৰো মে ই (কমিউটোৰ চোইন্স এণ্ড ইমিমনয়োমৰঙ) গুৱোহোটী, অসম ইপমইিঃ

April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 29

April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 30

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika


Born on September 8th, 1926 - Died on November 5th, 2011

legendary figure from Assam, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika exemplified Assamese music and culture. He was a multitalented personality whose excellence in many fields of arts was noteworthy. He was one of India’s most gifted artists who revolutionized the social and cultural landscape of Assam in the North Eastern region of India.

He was a prolific lyricist, a poet, music composer, an extraordinary singer who was a pioneer in singing songs for the people, on social issues or on everyday life that brought joy and hope to the listeners. He sang in as many as 18 languages. But most of his hundreds of songs were in Assamese and remarkably, he had written, given music to and sung his own Assamese songs. He had introduced the Assamese folk music to the world. The few songs that he had sung in Hindi, are loved nation-wide and made a mark in every heart.

He was a film-maker of great caliber and revolutionized the film industry of Assam with a number of Assamese films, the notable ones being Era Bator Sur, Swikarokti, Mahut Bandhure and Mon Projapoti. He was involved in the creation of the music in many highly acclaimed Hindi movies like Rudaali, Ek Pal, Arop; Bengali movies like Chameli Memsaheb, Jonakir Alo, Mahut Bandhure to name a few. But his contributions to Assamese movies has remained unparalleled to this day.

He has been adorned with innumerable different words to his credit, but one of the most striking one that touched everyone’s soul would be his humanitarianism. He was a devout social worker, who thought of innovative ways to bring to prominence the plight of common man to the world through various media like, documentaries, poems, songs and movies. He has been involved in the Independence movement of India and has been very vocal about the civil rights of the people.

He was also an academician, who taught at the Gauhati University. He had received his PhD in Mass Communication from the Columbia University, New York. Additionally, he was a journalist and an editor of some long standing Assamese Monthly magazines. He also wrote a number of books and essays. He had put the culture of Assam and the North Eastern region of India on the world map. He was presented with innumerable awards, accolades and honors, which included the Dada Saheb Phalke award, Padmasree and Padma Bhusan.

In essence, with Dr. Hazarika’s passing, India has lost a prodigal son who had enriched the Assamese culture. His songs have always touched a chord in people’s heart and will always continue to do so. - Paramita Saha Sketch by Binoy Saha

About the Author: Paramita loves to travel, to read books, and to cook. She looks forward to parties and gatherings where she can have good times with good friends. About the Sketch Artist: Binoy loves the outdoors. During his free time, he'd love to be able to do more hiking, fishing, playing badminton and cricket with his kids. He loves creative arts such as painting and sketching, and intends to hone his skills by taking further training sessions. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 31

My Spring Break - Rishan Talukdar My spring break was the best! We took a road trip to Santa Barbara, California. I did two things that were my favorite. We went whale watching and we didn’t only see whales, we saw dolphins too. My dad and I rented and rode a kayak. That was the best ride ever. I also saved a baby sea urchin from being food. I dropped it into the water. We got to eat grilled salmon and clam chowder with tasty pieces of giant clams. When I got home, I got to relax before school started again. I consider my spring break as treasure! About the Author: Rishan is a 1st grade student, and loves to try out new things. Currently he is learning about recycling, upcycling and terra cycling for a better environment. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 32

অসমী এয়ো বমোৰ বদশ বমোৰ অসমী বসউজ এয়ো বমোৰ ৰত্নগভভ ো জননী অসম। বমোৰ বদশৰ েভপত কদপৰ মদপন জপন্ম েীৰ আৰু স্পপশভ আকোশ ইয়োপতই ৰচনো হয় মদপন মদপন মমিনৰ গীত বভদ ভোৱ মৰহমৰ জোমত-নীমতৰ োৰ ভোমঙ

বে েোয় িুইতৰ

িসুৱো জি।

অসমৰ চু পক-বকোপে মোনুহ নহয় এয়ো োৰ ভঙো সংস্কৃ মতৰ ধিমৰোে মটক বকোোঁচ আপহোম কচোৰী উ নদী হ’ি বেন িুইতত িীন সুদৰ ূ মোমকভ ন বদশৰ েযোমিষ্ট মমশযন শংকৰ মোধৱ গুৰু আজোন ফমকৰ বটগ েোহোদুপৰ মদপি জোমতৰ সমি। বমোৰ বসশৰ মনমভি

োনী আৰু

মৱত্র েতোহ

অেুভদ শমিদোয়ী বমোৰ এই মোতৃ উশোহ নো োেোোঁ মেচোমৰ আৰু অনযত্র ক’বতো এই বমোৰ মোতৃ আৰু মোতৃ ভোষো। — প্ৰভোকৰ শমষ ো মনওগঅত প্রকোমশত

কবিৰ বির্লে: মই ১৯৮৯ চনৰ বমমিক

োচ, বেোৰহোট চৰকোৰী হোইস্কু িৰ

ৰো। হোয়োৰ বচপকণ্ডোৰী ১৯৯১, জগন্নোথ েৰুৱো

কপিজ, বেোৰহোট। ১৯৯৫ অত মই বেোৰহোট ইমিমনয়োমৰং কপিজৰ মেভোগৰ

ৰো কমিউটোৰ চোইন্স এণ্ড ইমিমনয়োমৰঙ

ৰো মে ই মডগ্ৰী িোভ কমৰপিোোঁ। ১৯৯৭ চনত মই আই আই টি গুৱোহোটীত মচপষ্টম এডমমমনপেটৰ

মহচোপে চোকমৰত বসোমোওোঁ আৰু সুপেোগ ৰো এম বটক কপৰোোঁ। ২০০৪-অৰ

োই ২০০২ চনত তোপৰ কমিউটোৰ চোইন্স এণ্ড ইমিমনয়োমৰঙ মেভোগৰ

ৰো েতভ মোনলিপক মই এন আই টি মশিচৰত (পনশযপনি ইন্সটিটিউট অে

বটকন’ি’জী, মশিচৰ) এমচপষ্টন্ট প্রপফচৰ মহচোপে চোকমৰ কমৰ আপিোোঁ। হমে মহচোপে আজমৰ সময়ত মই মিপ োোঁ, িমে আোঁপকো আৰু গোন গোওোঁ। April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 33

An Interview with Bihu Ojha Mr Khagen Mahanta Interviewed by Neon Talukdar Translated by Ankita Das


arcus Garvey once said “People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without its roots". With that in mind, we began our pursuit to find an individual from Assam, whom we could interview, and share his or her thoughts in this magazine. Several individuals came to mind. However, since this magazine is being published during Bihu, we wanted to find someone we can closely associate with the spring festival. And when Khagen Mahanta’s name came to mind, we got into that onetrack mind where we couldn’t think of anyone else. People from Assam probably require no introduction to Khagen Mahanta. However, after talking to him in the interview and repeatedly listening to the audio recording, we found him way more than just an artist. He has the quintessential humanitarian spirit , epitomizing in the belief that we are first and foremost human beings rising above all other adornments and notions of class, creed and gender. Talking to him left us with a general sense of well being, a feeling of harmony set in. Amidst so much negativity and sorrow that encompasses the present world , hope springs and sustains with a true allegiance to the human spirit. We can still hope and dream of a millennium.

Let us begin from the very early years of your life. I gather you were born in 1942 in Nagaon, Assam. Can you throw some light into those formative years of your childhood? Yes, I was born in Nagaon. Ours was a fairly large family. I was the 9 th among 11 children .While recounting my childhood the foremost thing that comes to my mind is how I miraculously survived a 7-month premature birth. My parents and older siblings showered me with tender love and utmost care. My father was a source of inspiration in my childhood. He was an Adhikari (in-charge) of a Satra with a very progressive outlook. He was employed as a head clerk in the Forest Department, which was considered an important job in the April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 34

erstwhile British government. Involvement in the government job could not deter my father’s dedication to the Satra. From an art and culture perspective, our family was delved deep in Satriya culture. My father was socially involved in various activities around Satriya culture. He helped establish the Shankar Mandir in Shillong, Amolapatty Naamghar in Dibrugrah, the Naamghar-Kirtanghar in Sadiya, etc. Because of him, we lived in and traveled to many places in Assam which brought us into contact with people from different walks of life. This aspect of my early years built in me a humanitarian attitude and an altruistic approach to life. All of us brothers and sisters are known to have some kind of contribution towards art and culture. I grew up listening to borgeet, kirtan ghoxa, etc. I learned singing, which included modern songs among others. I also learned to play the tabla and khol. When I joined college, I represented Guwahati University and participated in All India Inter-University Youth Festival in 1959 in Mysore. I played khol , and won a gold medal in the leather instrument category competition among various Indian students playing other Indian classical instruments like tabla, mridangam, pakhawaj, etc.

I can tell you were surrounded by music during your childhood and youth. Did you receive any formal training in music or did you learn everything from the Satra? I learned classical vocal music and tabla from Guru Sushil Banerjee from Nagaon. I learned everything else including borgeet, ghoxa, naam, kirtan, khol, etc. at home mostly from my family.

As a child, what was your aim in life? Did you always aspire to be a musician? As a child, my dream was to become a sportsperson. I played football, volleyball and cricket at school. I was a valuable player in school in all of these sports. As fate would have it, while playing football around the time of matriculation exams, I was seriously injured. After the accident and right after my exams, my family sent me to Shillong with the hope that I alienate myself from sports. At that time, we had a home in Shillong. My older brothers, sisters and sister-in-laws were already living in Shillong. As Shillong was the capital at that time, there was an established Assamese society. This was around 1958-1959. During my stint at St. Edmund’s College in Shillong, I got more involved with singing and cultural affairs and participated in various inter-university competitions. In 1960, there was a language movement in Assam, which caused social unrest throughout the State. A set of artists like Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Jugal Das and Hemanga Biswas formed a group to promote social harmony in the State. Although very young compared to the other members, I joined in with them. Prafulla Pran Mahanta was the secretary and invited Bhupen Hazarika, who joined us too. We were a group of artists belonging to different social environments and cultural backgrounds brought together by the avant-garde idea of promoting peace and social harmony through art and music. Under the nomenclature, “Let us meet for peace and harmony” we travelled all around bringing music to the people. We started from Shillong, to Guwahati, Nagaon, Jorhat, Sivsagar, Dibrugarh, and over to Tezpur, Mangaldoi, Goreshwar. The youngest artists in the group were Jayanta Hazarika and me. Most of the time I sang “Kolore patote kaori pore” and Jayanta Hazarika sang “Agoli botahe kopale kolore pat” on popular demand. The appeal of these two songs April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 35

shot us to fame. I gained recognition from the people of Assam for the first time in 1960. From then on, I had a turning point and I never looked back. The idea of becoming a sportsperson was no longer compelling. I met Rudra Baruah in Shillong and worked with him in various cultural fronts. I met Keshab Mahanta, my brother-in-law in 1956. The three of us worked together to create music. Keshab Mahanta would pen down the lyrics, Rudra Baruah would compose and I would sing those compositions. Besides singing, I also started composing at a later stage. I thereby gradually engulfed myself in the cultural world.

Could you tell us more about the days of 1960s when Assam was not as peaceful, about the movement that disturbed the general equilibrium of the people? There was a time when Bengali was the official language of Assam. If you look at history, it was convenient for the then British government because almost all the clerks and contractors who worked for them were from Bengal. Bengali script was used in the education system as well. The people of Assam wanted to change that, they wanted to make Assamese the official language of Assam and was faced with opposition from the government. There was an upheaval and social unrest because of this language movement. During this period the situation was tense in certain parts of Assam like Goreshwor and Mongoldoi resulting in sporadic violence between the Assamese and Bengali communities. The loss of peace caused concern among the artist community. Some of us like Hemaga Biswas, Bisnhu Prasad Rabha, Jugal Das, Gynada Kakati, Prafulla Pran Mahanta approached the then Chief Minister of Assam Bimala Prasad Chaliha for some help and support. We told him we would like to work towards peace in Assam through music and culture. We would like to send a message to the people of Assam, visiting as many places as we can. Here I would like to point you out the difference between politicians of yesteryears and now. Bimala Prashad Chaliha appreciated this effort but didn’t want to provide official support from the government. He was concerned that government assistance would be perceived as political. He believed politicians couldn’t bring back peace, but artists could. He encouraged us to go on our mission with a promise of due support behind the scene. He reached out to the DC offices to arrange lodging, meals, etc. He even arranged two cars, microphone set and urged us to go all by ourselves. He requested us not to mention government’s support and so we never did. That was a great selfless outlook of a true leader at that time. We certainly accomplished most of it ourselves as a cultural group. However, without the patronage from the government, it would have been hard as we didn’t have financial strength at that time. We were successful in our endeavor; a lot of the riots stopped; as cultural ambassadors we helped reduce the anger and resentment among the people. Our songs brought us recognition among people, and it was like a musical debut for us. I am glad you came up with the topic of the language movement. Nobody enquires about it anymore. I am more than happy talking about the language movement instead of answering trivial questions like what I like to eat, etc. Tell us about your family. My wife is Archana Mahanta, who is a singer on her own right. We have a son and a daughter.

April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 36

Being a family of singers, I am curious to know if you ever stop singing. Are the days filled up with singing from morning till night? We no longer sing as much as we used to. We were quite involved in creating humanitarian songs. I consider myself a human being first and then an artist. I lead a fairly simple life doing what most people like to do, deriving pleasure out of simple things. I keep pursuing my own goals and let others pursue their own. I taught the same principles to my children: that we are human beings first. One maybe a singer, some are engineers, some are richshaw pullers, but the foremost identity that binds us all together is that we are all human beings. Most of our songs revolve around these concepts: Luko-kala (folk art), Luko-kristi (folk culture), Sankari-kristi (Sankari culture), bihu-naam (Bihu songs). If you think about Bihu-naam, it was not heard anywhere in middle and lower Assam. It was prevalent in upper Assam for thousands of years. People believe that I was the pioneer in making Bihu-naam popular in middle and lower Assam. In the eyes of the mid 20th century polite Satriya society, singing Bihu-naam was deemed to be unrespectable. But my father, with his progressive thinking and illuminating mind, inspired me that the same way I sang Borgeet, I can sing Bihunaam too. They are just different aspects of culture. Lots of people in the Satra were opposed to my singing and promoting Bihu-naam. Nonetheless, Archana and I continued our sojourn from 1957 to 1985 singing Bihu -naam. I started first and subsequently she joined. And from then on, Bihu-naam conjoined the spirits of the people of lower Assam and upper Assam. These days we can barely distinguish between talented youngsters from Dhubri playing dhol or pepa and youngsters from upper Assam. Archana and I launched “Paraag”, a collection of Kamrupi Lokogeet (folk songs). Archana sang “O xundori radhe mai”, and I sang “Beli gol godhuli hol”. I believe “Paraag” contributed towards making Kamrupi folk songs popular in upper Assam. I don’t want to sound unabashed, but we made a significant contribution in building the cultural bridge between upper Assam and lower Assam through Bihu songs and Kamrupi folk songs. You had so many recognitions in your life: Film Craft Award, Sangeet Natak Academy, Shrimoy Award, Sangeetacharya, etc. I personally like the informal title “Bihu Samraat” (The Emperor of Bihu), which I believe no one else can be as befitting as you are. What are your personal thoughts on it? Frankly speaking, I would prefer to be referred as “Bihu Ojha” (The Preacher of Bihu) rather than “Bihu Samraat”. As I told you I like to lead a simple life; I don’t like the title or concept of emperor. If people called me Bihu-naam’s Ojha, I would have loved that. Nonetheless people lovingly call me “Bihu Samraat” and I quietly accept it. I am humbled at the overwhelming love people have conferred on me. In 1958 I sang “Dhol bai dhorota dhol. Dhonore rokhiyai dhon loi polaise, dhoruta’k patise sur. Karengo’r duwarot dokait pohoriya, urohir nepau ur”. The so called guardians of palaces or emperors are in fact crooks. This is true even today with modern day political world. Those songs are still relevant today. People who work hard, people who are simple and down to earth understand and appreciate my songs.

You have had such an eventful life. Is there an outstanding moment in your life that you cherish or has left an indelible impression in your mind? All my songs are about life and common people. As I mentioned earlier I have been singing the song “kolore April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 37

patote kaori pore” since 1957. The song was recorded in the year 1960. The rioting and violence during the language movement somewhat tarnished the image of the Assamese people in West Bengal . They believed that the Assamese people were aggressive and violent. The press projected a very violent image of the Assamese people. During that time, an important event “World Peace Festival” was held in Kolkata. Hemanga Biswas engaged Moghai Ojha and me to participate in this festival. We were the only participants from Assam. Famous artists from India as well as artists from different parts of the world attended. Hemanga Biswas was involved in the cultural aspect. As many as 60,000 to 70,000 people came to watch Moghai Ojha and I perform. Newspapers in Kolkata wrote several encouraging reviews about us. One of the 13 days of the festival, the Cuban Queen was scheduled to perform ballet on a platform made of unbreakable glass. Just before the performance, the organizers realized the platform required cleaning. So there was a gap of 20-25 minutes before the show, and the organizers were scrambling to entertain the crowd for that period. Noteworthy singers like Hemanga Biswas, Niranjan Sen, Suchitra Mitra, Debrabrata Biswas, etc. were requested to sing but they refused as it was unnerving to perform for an audience eagerly awaiting to see the Cuban Queen perform. Hemanga Biswas forced me to sing. I was shaken as it was an audience of 80,000. A famous actor Gyanesh Mukherjee made the announcement about the delay, and that a “chele manush” (young boy) from Assam will perform in the interim. Somehow the audience didn’t make a fuss about it. There was no table available so they placed the harmonium on top of two stacked chairs. An artiste from Bihar accompanied with the dholki, and that was it - we didn’t have any other instrument. I sang a few songs, and then the audience sent a request “apni dakhorkora koroon”. I didn’t quite understand what that meant, Hemanga da explained “dakhorkora” means postman, which meant they wanted me to sing “Kaori pore”. I sang the song on public request. There was complete silence for 6-7 minutes while I sang that song followed by a huge applause in the end. Later in the green room, I met Ratna Ojha and Keshab Mahanta who were sitting in the audience during my performance. They said something which left an indelible impression on me. Next to them, was an old Bengali man who was listening to my songs very intently and in the end he sighed and said “Eira eto bhalo gaan gai, manush kaate ki rokom”. By “eira” he meant all the people of Assam. It meant “How can people singing as incredible as this be so violent and aggressive?” I have received numerous compliments, but this was by far the best compliment ever.

If you look at the transformation in technology and society since you recorded and sang, you can see several contrasts including changes in recording, studios, from gramophones, to cassettes, CDs, computers, pendrives and iTunes. What are your observations on these changes? Since I love music, I think in terms of music. From that perspective, I do find that when we used to sing, we would all sing and play music together – all in one shot. If, for example, the flute player would make a mistake for whatever reason, we had to record the whole song again. Voice and instruments were recorded all together. But today, musicians or singers can’t even imagine those days. Now music tracks are made independently. Different musicians come at different times and provide their part of the recording. And then the singers come and record the vocals. Even if the vocalist makes a mistake on two words, they can just rerecord the two words and insert into the song. Because of technology all of these techniques are possible. However, it seems most of the songs these days are missing the emotional appeal compared to songs from April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 38

our age. There are still songs today that appeal to the soul and that will continue. However, it is rare than the norm. It has become very mechanical. The main reason is – when all the musicians, recording engineers and vocalists worked together, the concept of totality used to prevail. All musicians were emotionally charged because they played based on total understanding of the song. Today a violinist would visit the studio, and would be asked to just play a specified piece. The violinist often won’t even pay attention to whether the song is a sad or happy song. It was very hard to play the way we did at our times, but we had the advantage of being involved with the passion of the songs at all times. I don’t know if you have noticed the difference, but most of the songs these days don’t render that sentiment. Some would say that I am saying this because I am from that age, but in reality the emotional appeal is missing from most of the songs these days. I find this a big difference between then and now.

What message do you have for children and the youth? I don’t want to sermonize and I barely consider myself as someone who can provide advice. But I always appeal and urge people that before venturing into anything, attaining comprehensive knowledge about it is necessary. Comprehensive knowledge is requisite to sustain in an environment of short-lived fame. We do have a lot of artists who consistently work hard and are supremely dedicated. In an era where everything is instant, an artist should dissuade from aspiring instant fame. Art can never be instant, it is a process. There are people who have probably just learned a few songs and gone for professional performances. They think they have achieved what they wanted. Generally these successes are short-lived. In the past most artists would spend years in training before they became public performers. That is hard to find now. The artists’ own thoughts, emotions, application, grammar can’t be found today. This has become way too much prevalent. I agree the field has widened in the music industry. However, because of lack of perseverance we don’t get to hear as many quality songs. I appeal that everyone should endeavor to learn the basics first and master the art form, before venturing into the professional world.

What message do you have for the people from Assam living abroad or outside of Assam in various places in India? I don’t have any particular message for the expatriate Assamese people. They are already doing what needs to be done. I have seen that whenever Assam needs them they are always there, they come together and support with a common voice. Whether one is in Phoenix, New York, New Jersey or Scotland, if it is related to any affliction or common good of Assam, these Assamese people living outside of Assam come together with the conglomerate thought that it is for “our Assam”. It pleases me most to see the coherent response that comes from these people. It is good to see that even if it is a handful of families ,they still gather to celebrate festivals of the native land. We used to get invitations in the past to perform in these gatherings. We did go and perform in many places but cannot do it anymore. In the past, Assam was more known for forests, hills, animals and less for its society. But the outlook of Assam has now changed, mainly because of these people who helped paint a favorable picture. For example in your city of Phoenix, you are facilitating a simple Bihu festival, in other parts of America some are celebrating Assam Day in a slightly larger scale, April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 39

then there are celebrations in Scotland, England, Nagpur, etc. Nowadays Assamese people are gathering as a society compared to in the past, when it was more individualistic. People from Assam used to go out as individuals, work there, earn some money but didn’t really have as much of a social or nationalist agenda. But now I am glad to see that change, and I am very happy about it.

It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for this illuminating conversation that has left us richer by the day. In the end would you like to sing something for us, one of your favorites? I really love to sing. I sang a lot of songs and these songs are the essence of my life. It has always been hard for me to single out that one song I like the most. Every one of them is like my offspring. You can’t really pick a favorite among your children. I adore all my songs. But I do like to resonate the songs that speak my heart, songs that give out social messages. One of them is:

মপ্রয়তম এই জীৱন, মে বেোোঁৱতী নদীৰ দপৰ েোৰ েোধো ভোমঙপেোৱো প্রোে, মই অন্তৰ মমিোওোঁ তোপি েভত মেমোন ও , মসমোন ধুমহু োৰ চিোচি িক্ষ্য মেমোন ও , মসমোন েোধোৰ চিোচি আচি জীৱন উদোৰ অন্তৰ মই, মই অন্তৰ মমিোওোঁ তোপি

ভৰ েোমৰষোৰ বকোেোি বসোোঁতত উটি আহো বফনপেোৰ ভৰ েোমৰষোৰ বকোেোি বসোোঁতত উটি আহো বফনপেোৰ িক্ষ্যহীনৰ মেফি দম্ভ, তোপি ভয় নোই বমোৰ

বমোৰ আনদ অনন্ত বসোোঁতৰ িদত, মই অন্তৰ মমিোওোঁ তোপি

Note: Original audio recording of the interview in Assamese can be found using the link below: About the Interviewer and Translator: Ankita Das and Neon Talukdar are married to each other and are both from Guwahati, Assam. They both love music and radio, particularly National Public Radio (NPR). They live in Phoenix, Arizona and are blessed with two boys, Rishan and Jeeyon. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 40

2014 Rongali Bihu Celebration in Phoenix, Arizona Ootikoi senehor mugare mohura tatukoi senehor maku; Tatukoi senehor rongali bihuti nepati kenekoi thaku Compiled by Samar Bhuyan


ssamese community of Phoenix (Arizona) has been proudly celebrating Rongali bihu for past several years. “Rongali Bihu Adarani” was organized in the evening of April 19, 2014 at a community hall of “Snedigar Recreation Center” located within metropolitan Phoenix. Several families from Phoenix, relatives and friends from Assam and few other US states gathered for this celebration. The hall was painstakingly decorated with gamosas, japi, xorai, muga silk, and pictures and description of tourist places of Assam and all other

North Eastern states. While the bihu songs and music filled the air, the mouthwatering jolpan with pitha and larus was served. The MC for the cultural program was Chandan Das. Cultural program started with presentation of national anthem of US and India, followed by jatio sangeet, “O Mur Apunar Desh”. A magazine titled “Marubhumir Kopou” in its draft version was presented. First issue of this magazine focuses on publishing articles primarily relating to Assam and Bihu festival. It will be published online with the contribution of article, story, art, poem etc. April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 41

from the community members, especially from their children, and their family members from Assam. The community applauded the efforts of everyone involved in publishing the magazine. All time melodious, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s song, “Kahuwa Bon Mur Oxanto Mon”, was sung as a chorus. It was presented by Tanushree Baishya, Rashmi Bhuyan, Devi Vij, Shamala and Chandan Das, Mayuri and Randeep Goswami, Rachna and Diganta Nath, Bobby Saha, Subhrajit Saha, Ajanta and Lakhindra Sharma, Satyabrata Sharma and Ankita Das. Nikita Bhuyan gracefully presented a Satriya style dance on Ranjan Bezbaruah’s song. This song is the Sankskrit version of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s song, “Bistirno Parore”. Children including Prokriti, Srijon, Diya, Jyotishman, Neil, Rishan, Sanmaan, and Sthuthi, showed their talents by playing borgeet on keyboard, singing solo songs, playing tabla, and presenting comic talk. They also presented Anima Choudhury’s “Gir Gir Gir Gir Nijori” song as a chorus that drew huge appreciation from the crowd. Tanushree Baishya, Diganta Nath, and Shraman Goswami presented a few all-time favorite, Jayanta Hazarika’s and Dr. Bhpen Hazarika’s songs. Neon Talukdar, Samar Bhuyan, and Satyabrata Sharma played keyboard, tabla, and guitar respectively, on several of the songs. A sumptuous “bihu bhoj” (dinner) was then served in the middle of the cultural program. The dishes, cooked and contributed by every family, were primarily prepared to Assamese taste, and also included North and South Indian dishes that enriched the diversity of the menu and the celebration. The cultural program continued after this bhoj. Shamala presented a sweet Karnatic song. Dr. Manjula Kakoty from the state of Alabama April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 42

presented a song, “Sandhiyar Akasat Bogoli Ure” that brought sweet nostalgic feeling to the community. She also presented a comic talk. A ladies group bihu dance beautifully choreographed by Mayuri Bhattacharjee, was then performed by Tanushree Baishya, Mayuri Bhattacharjee, Nikita and Rashmi Bhuyan, Rachna Nath, Ajanta Talukdar Sharma, Ankita Das, and Devi Vij. Mayuri also presented a medley of Bihu and Bollywood dance on a Hindi song. Ajanta and Lakhindra Sharma presented few duet bihu songs.

Toward the end of the cultural program, Rashmi and Samar Bhuyan, and Ankita and Neon Talukdar performed a skit titled “Gohonor Petor Asukh” that brought huge laughter to the audience. A hussori and group bihu dance, choreographed by Lakhindra Sharma, was then elegantly presented by the several community members including senior community member, Karuna Bhuyan. All participating children were then awarded with certificates of appreciation. The celebration was then culminated with “mukoli bihu”, which was a heart and soul of that evening and sparkled the atmosphere. The energy and enthusiasm dissipated throughout the hall and the audience took part in dancing as individual, couple and in group. Rongali bihu celebration was then concluded in the middle of the night with words of thanks and blessings to everyone for a successful new year.

Note: Most of the program videos can be viewed online at:

Where is Assam?



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April 2014 | Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমমৰ কপ ৌ | 44

Marubhumir Kopou | মৰুভূমিৰ কপৌ | April 2014  

A magazine published by the Assamese Cultural Society of Arizona on the occasion of Rongali (Bohag) Bihu 2014, a spring festival in Assam th...