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The Way this Non-Residential Assamese Popularized Bihu In a Foreign Land Will Move You

Priyanka Kotoky
Contributor, Bordoisila

25th April, 2016

I have been away from my home state for quite some time now. Given my circumstances, I have always considered myself to be a very cosmopolitan creature. Well, this assumption however comes crashing every Bihu. Come Bihu and I realise that when my roots come tugging at my make-believe-cosmopolitan-heart, I turn into a pitha and Bihu naam craving regional monster.

I have stayed across India, I have stayed abroad and everywhere when Indians meet, there is the mention of Vishu, Baisakhi, Pongal and all the Indian harvest festivities one can imagine except Bihu. Reason being, less population.

Going through the markets at this time makes me feel really left out. People are celebrating, markets are shelling out the festivity specials but there is no mention of Bihu special offers. One day as I was paying my bill at a grocery store, the store clerk wished me a Happy Baisakhi! Oh! How I wish someone would say to me ‘Bihur Xubhesha Thakil’ (Best Wishes for Bihu) just once! But for me that is dreaming big! In response, I opened my mouth to tell him that it is Bihu too today; but before I could mention that, the queue moved and so I too had to push off! The friendly store clerk on the other hand assumed that I had tried to wish him back. So he smiled generously and said, ‘Enjoy!’

Last Bihu I decided that I have had enough!

So I announced to a group of my colleagues and neighbours that I am throwing a party. Came April 14th and I had my entrance door decorated with a japi and a gamusa. I had brought with me a tiny japi when I had left home. I made Tilor laru, Narikolor laru and ghila pitha; thanks to my long distance telephonic guidance from ma. Once done, I brought in doi, sira and gur. Thanks to the internet, I had all the latest Bihu songs downloaded and ready for the party. It was a breakfast that I had invited people over for. So, I set the tea to boil and switched on the music.

One by one, people poured in. First came in two Ethiopians, my colleagues in office. Second came a Ukrainian who was also a colleague. Third my Indian Malyali neighbours. Fourth came the next door Gujratis and lastly a Pilipino acquaintance. Of course, they were in for a surprise! The breakfast was a great one with me educating people about my cultural roots and they being mesmerised at the cultural diversity and beauty of Assam. They relished the home-made sweets. Some even danced to the Bihu Numbers. "Hey! The music is so catchy that one cannot stay without making some moves." , they said.

While in between conversation I had told them how I missed being in Assam for Bihu. They took this comment very seriously. So, while I cleared the plates they googled the Assamese way of saying ‘Happy Bihu’ behind my back. After a great time of merrymaking, they rose to go. As I left them to the door they all turned and said to me in unison, ‘Bihur Xubhesha Thakil.’

It felt wonderful! This was the best Bihu that I have had away from home and I intend to have more.

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