The splashing rain on the windshield accompanied by the broken twigs, leaves and dust and the very familiar, yet off late very rarely experienced smell of the wet soil was suddenly the best thing that had happened in the last few months. The piercing heat had just sizzled under the cold shower and the dust just died down into the puddles of mud. ‘Bordoi Sila’ has eventually given us a reason to celebrate.
Having heard a poem on the materialism of Bihu fervour and the loss of togetherness, in a recent recitation competition on Bihu, it struck me as to what Bihu meant for me, or even for that matter for everyone.
As I search around looking for answers as to what Bihu meant for each one of us, I somehow found very different answers and also a very different perspective.
My octogerian uncle idealistic in his approach, who begins his day with a disciplined lifestyle and absolutely refrains from sedentary ways feels that bihu, is not just about exchaning gamochas nor just observing the social formalities. But, it means understanding and respecting the relations, letting the season and its colours wash away the dust of negation and embrace the festival for its purity.
Again some carry the festival with them even miles away from the green valleys and try to hand it down to the new ones. My married sister settled abroad along with her set of Assamese friends always took an effort to keep the spirit of Bihu alive,relive the three days of festivity and make the young ones understand the ways and celebration of the agragrian land which has a festival for every phase of the harvest or celebrtaes the fresh season of spring. “The kids will be dancing to ‘bonoria ami bonor sorai’ and four of my friends will dance to the song ‘Mure jobonore xokha krishna’. we will also be singing the chorus ‘Xundoro Pujari’, said my sister with the urge of taking Assam out across the seven seas. As they say distance makes the heart grow fonder here the adage definitely finds the right meaning here.
Moving back home, where the series of bihu workshops have taken the dance form to a different level, the rhthymic beat of the dhol, the exotic tune of the pepa and the enticing bihu moves symbolise the active spring season. The young ones who try to sway the hips to the tunes and ape the movements of the farmers on the field reaping and sowing the grain, somewhere it reminds us that the season is just about abundance and about our ancestral roots that bind us together like the reaped strands of grain with soil clinging to its roots. After all the meaningful songs are not only about lovelorn lovers and playful flirtations, these songs also carry the flavour of the season, the fertile land, the craft and also the love for the close ones.
Going by the festivity, the colourful shops with their fresh apparels mounted for sales, crave for attention, the rush for the likes of me and my shopaholic friends go to these stores and burn a massive hols in our pockets, later wondering if it was worth spending and then again brushing aside the disturbing thought by feasting on sinful amounts of junk food and later buying packeted pithas and ladus. Well ‘Bihu means buying news clothes isnt it?’ said my teenage cousin with a look that read ‘I know it is’. Then again that’s what we have reduced the bihu into. Buying, buying and buying much more. And what about repecting the new year. Well we did celebrate it on January first by bursting crackers and toasting a drink to the brand new year. As for the weather its just a time to grab the new spring collection.
I listen and then I speak to myself, the season is my entity, my existence as an Assamese.
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