Monthly Archives: August 2010

Reinventing the Northeast

In recent years, books and discourses seeking to unravel the problems plaguing the Northeast have become much popular although the scope of utilization of the opinions expressed remains to be seen. I recently chanced to preview upon Falguni Rajkumar’s book, Rainbow People: Reinventing Northeast India, which I feel is just what is needed to fill the gap.
The Northeast region of India is synonymous with serious law and order problems, arising mainly out of the ethno-nationalistic aspirations of the people. When coupled with lack of development and poverty, all these aspects result in the formation of a vicious cycle, which prevents the region and its people to move forward. The author takes a relook at the problems plaguing the region from an entirely new perspective that has not been researched or seen earlier.

From Rajkumar’s analyses, it transpires that various exogenous influences beyond the control of the regional populace, like the role of British Indi Northeast frontier policies, the influence and role of universal religions of Hinduism and Christianity, the unfair partition of the country that segregated the region from the mainland, the post independence policies of the Indian government and a host of other residual consequences arising out of these factors are some of the main causes for the problems.

Based on the findings, Rajkumar suggests a much more efficacious approach and possible way out of the impending disaster by looking at the problems and issues much more holistically from the regional and national perspective. The author postulates that a possible solution lies through reconciling and addressing both the problems of economic underdevelopment and ethnic divide simultaneously. In this effort, the author suggests, apart from other policy interventions, finding an appropriate institution capable of being both the catalyst for the economic development and the peacemaker capable of bridging the ethnic divide in the region.

The author Falguni Rajkumar is a scion of the erstwhile royal family of Manipur. The first direct recruit Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from among the Meitei community of Manipur, Rajkumar recently retired from professional service as secretary of the North East Council in the rank of secretary to the Government of India. He had also worked in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and in the Ministry of Defence in two separate spells of five years each. He also had a long stint in Karnataka where, besides other posts, he had assumed charge of post of Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Development officer. A well know sportsperson, poet and artist of repute, Rajkumar is presently working as Special Advisor of UNIDO, dealing with the Northeast region, and is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.

ROUND-UP

Borpujari in Montreal World Film Festival jury

Film critic-journalist Utpal Borpujari has been nominated as a member of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury for the 34th Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF), considered among one of the most prestigious film festivals globally. Borpujari will serve in the jury that will decide the International Critics’ FIPRESCI prize at the festival that will run from August 26 to September 6.

The other members of the jury, chaired by Andrea Dittgen of Germany, are Mario Abbade from Brazil, Diego Cabrera from Peru, Jon Frosch from France, Pascal Grenier from Canada, Anders Larsson from Sweden and Jake Wilson from Australia. Borpujari, who had won the Swarna Kamal for the Best Film Critic at the 50th National Film Awards in 2003, has served in FIPRESCI juries earlier also, in international film festivals like MAMI in Mumbai, Osian’s Cinefan in Delhi and documentary festival MIFF in Mumbai.

Huge boost for music trade industry

The first focused music trade magazine of the country was launched recently. The magazine, Sound Box, is published from Mumbai and is edited by Aparna Joshi. Published by Nitin Tej Ahuja from Mumbai, this is probably the first time that someone has attempted to bring out a music magazine that covers all aspects relating to the creation and usage of music in India. With a vibrant music industry and the music market covering various languages, the need for a focused music trade magazine had been long felt. Let’s hope Sound Box fills the gap.

Theatre season starts in Nagaon

The much awaited theatre season of 2010 began here at Nagaon with ‘Brahamputra Theatre’ leading the pack with six days of show last Wednesday. While the fest marked the beginning of their run this season, theatre lovers are excited at the prospect of being able to watch celebrities from all across the State, like Krishnamoni Nath and Gayatri Mahanta, performing at their very own Nehru Bali field. Most of the scripts in the six-day festival have been written especially for Nath and Mahanta; one of them, Mur Naam Junali, is being eagerly awaited by the people.

Painting and photography exhibition held in Diphu

A painting and photography exhibition was held at Diphu last week. The exhibition was organised by Curves & Shades and the same attracted attention from artistes and patrons alike. The exhibition was conceptualised by artist Ranjan Engti. According to Engti, “Curves & Shades was formed in the year 2004 to limelight and endorse the creative aptitude of youths in the field of painting and photography ; in order to create a space where youths from diverse field can come together to represent artworks depicting people, life, culture and nature.”

Poetry for a change

I recently came across a collection of poetry, Echoes of Spring, which features the works of two sisters – Agnes and Vishu Rita Krocha – who are based in Kohima, Nagaland. Among the new breed of poets in the Northeast, especially in the State of Nagaland, these sisters stand out, primarily on account of their sensitivity and love for nature.

Coming from a land where there are not that many takers for poetry, Echoes of Spring has been superbly produced, and packaged and marketed pretty well. The foreword of the book has been written by Ruskin Bond. The collection of poetry is primarily about nature and has been penned by the Krocha Sisters citing instances from their growing up years – a view of the world through their eyes. As a reviewer noted: ‘Readers, collectors or aspiring writers over the globe, will surely find one thing difficult to keep up along with this book, apart from the poetry i.e. its detailing of folk art and its unusual hardcover size. It would mean that it deserves a special shelf’.

Talking about the book, Vishu Rita Krocha says, “We grew up in Kohima, still live there and share a common love for nature-the poems in the book are thoughts collected over the past few years, mostly based on nature with a few lights thrown on societal concerns.”

The hardbound book was printed at Thompson Press, New Delhi and is a self-published venture with support from NEZCC and well Wishers. It is priced at Rs 375.

Freedom through music

While bandh calls marred Independence day celebrations in the region yet another time last week, quintessential Khasi guitarist-singer Lou Majaw grabbed news headlines all over the region once again this year with a re-run of last year’s Freedom Concert, which he said is a form of protest against the bandh boycott calls. Though the venue of Lou’s peace concert in Shillong had to shift to another location, the garage of a musician and not in the middle of Police Bazar as was reported by the media, the show still saw a lot of prolific musicians and bands performing that day. Like the musicians in Shillong, musicians in Guwahati too had got together for a unique jamming session on the city roads. And while the jamming session, held in front of Commerce College in the city, did not have any big stars or celebrities performing as such, the session still managed to garner tremendous response from the public.

I would not prefer to go into the intricacies of both the concerts here for I am more interested in the significance behind the events. As a day, August 15 is of immense significance in the lives of every Indian. The entire country wakes up on this particular day to celebrate their state’s independence. The day is a national holiday in India and widespread jubilation is witnessed amongst people of different religion, caste and creed. Besides the government-sponsored celebrations, people from different walks of life get to together to celebrate their Indianness; it is a day when more focus is given on strengthening the bond of brotherhood rather than on fighting amongst themselves for petty differences.

But the scenario in Northeast India, especially in Assam, is a bit different, with most of the people being forced to stay indoors due to the bandh diktat of the countless militant and insurgent outfits. Thanks to the bandh calls, the very essence of the day is lost and for the people it is another lazy day to while away at home as most people refrain from coming out of their homes to go to work, vehicles remaining off their roads and businessmen and traders downing their shutters. A true ‘celebration’ of our independence.

Rupam Bora, one of the chief initiators of the session, said that the decision to hold the jamming session was fuelled more by a need to celebrate the day than for anything else. “It is a day to celebrate the spirit of being Indians and what better way could be there to do that other than through music?” He adds, “The jamming session stands as real testimony to the power of music. Candles are lit in the evening by the roadside and the entire act results in the creation of a very serene atmosphere, befitting the sanctity of the day.”

The best part of the Freedom Jam in Guwahati was that there are no big names or stars involved in the entire session, and everyone is free to join. “We don’t have any backdrop or logos and the only motive behind organizing this session is to celebrate the day through music, says Rupam.

Though a slight drizzle threatened to prove spoilsport last Sunday evening, there was no stopping the musicians who came out on their bikes and put up the Freedom Banner right in the middle of the pavement across Commerce College. Maybe it was their enthusiasm that did the trick, but even the heaven gods did not let the rain pour and very soon there was a sizeable crowd, comprising mostly of passers-by, who gathered together to watch the musicians. As the musicians kept passing around the guitars amongst themselves, and even among members of the audiences, candles were soon passed amongst the crowd. The session continued till around 9 in the evening by which time the crowd too had started to disperse.

All in all, both the peace gigs in Shillong and Guwahati stand as testimony to the power of music. Here’s hoping that music continues to heal the hurt and erase the wounds!

Assam to host first national rock competition this November

Karbi Anglong is gearing up to host Assam’s first national rock competition this November. The 2nd Karbi Anglong Beats Contest, which will be held on a national level this year, is part of the 3-day traditional Rongtheang festival of Karbi Anglong. The festival is presently into its eight year.

The Karbi Anglong Beats Contest is the newest addition to the Rongtheang fest. Conceptualized and planned by the Eastern Beats Music Society, the first edition of the beats contest was organized in October last year on the last day of the Rongtheang fest. The Karbi Anglong Beats Contest was held in the memory of the victims of the October 30, 2008 serial blasts in Guwahati, Assam. The event saw musicians from Guwahati, NC Hills, Dimapur and Karbi Anglong collaborate together and portray the healing power of music. The winner of the competition was awarded with prize money of Rs. 10,000/- sponsored by Maharaja Pradyot Manikya Debburman, the King of Tripura. The contest was a tremendous success, recording footfall of more than 10,000 + people. Given the fact that this was possibly the first instance in entire India, where a rock contest was held for musicians and bands in remote villages, this is definitely a noteworthy event.

Eastern Beats Music Society sources informed that the beats contest will be held on a national-level this year. Joint Secretary Peter Alex Todd said that eight bands from the eastern part of the country will be selected by a jury that will comprise of some pioneering musicians of Northeast India. The selected bands will battle it out for the winners’ title and Rs. 50,000 in prize money, a recording deal and other gifts.

Talking about the selection process, Joint Secretary David Koch said that bands have to send their compositions to the society. “Bands can send in their demos to rongtheang@easternbeats.org. The word about the festival is spreading fast and we have already started receiving a lot of entries from bands outside the region,” he said.

The basic objective behind organizing the contest is to provide a conducive environment for the growth of new ideas amongst the youth of the region. “We want to harness the immense potentialities of the youth. Accordingly, the theme for the Karbi Anglong Beats Contest 2010 has been kept as ‘Youth for Pace and Positive Development,” says Todd.

The Rongtheang Festival is a traditional festival of the people of Karbi Anglong which is into its eighth year now. Originally conceived as a festival to foster the spirit of bonding and brotherhood amongst the people of the district and to provide a platform for the young talents of the new generation, the Rongtheang fest has been helping channelize the frustrations and unspent energy of the youth in a positive direction. By introducing the people with the immense power and healing force of music and other art forms, the festival has been playing a major role in guiding the youth towards inculcating a healthy and positive lifestyle. In recent years, the festival’s influence and popularity has spilled over from Karbi Anglong to embrace a much wider spectrum with more and more artistes, musicians and youngsters from the rest of the North-east taking a keen interest in the festival. The festival now has a regular stream of visitors from places like NC Hills, Jorhat, Guwahati, Nagaland and other areas who come here to get acquainted with the rich culture and traditions of the Karbis.

Through the eyes of the women

I recently got my hands on a unique collection of essays that seeks to provide a general overview of the problems and issues confronting the Northeast through their daily experiences of the people, especially the womenfolk. Published by Zubaan and edited by Preeti Gill, the book, The Peripheral Centre: Voices from India’s Northeast, fills an important gap by depicting the general response of people residing in the Northeast, as well as outside, to the region, its people and the issues plaguing them.

The editor of the book says the decision to publish this compilation was fuelled by a desire to provide space for people in the region to narrate their daily experiences. “When Thangjam Manorama was arrested and killed by the Assam Rifles in July 2004 in Manipur, it unleashed a protest the likes of which no one had witnessed before. In some ways, this was one of the triggers for the collection – to provide a space to women and men from the ‘Northeast’ to tell us about the issues that confront them daily, to talk about the pressures, the insecurities, the uncertainties confronting them in an area that has been witnessing low intensity warfare for many decades now. It is now many years since the Th Manorama incident but it is an image that has stayed in the mind, transformed into an icon of protest in the popular imagination,” says Gill.

The act of protest of the Manipuri women, their anger and frustration, is what every contributor points out to in their essays. The act of the Manipuri women becomes the focal point around which the contributors puts forth questions about a host of associated issues like identity, the feeling of alienation, and the like. The best part of the whole collection is that while many of the contributors are writers, academics and activists from the region, many of them are also so-called outsiders. “All the articles are intensely personal responses to what is happening in the region, the changes, the growing asymmetries, the fault lines that are causing rifts,” says Gill.

As feminist publishers, Zubaan has done a wonderful job by depicting the stories through the eyes of the women. As Gill says, “The conflicts, which have been given voice to in this book, have been intense and have had devastating and long term effects on local communities. The impact has been particularly complex for women who have faced greater violations against their persons at the hands of the State’s armed forces as well as exploitation by non state actors. Women have to cope with the realities of daily life – they are responsible as mothers of the children, the hurt and the wounded, who are innocent victims to conflicts not of their creation. They suffer as civilians with their freedoms curtailed and shackled. The loss that women face in conflicts is not just emotional, or physical in terms of losing a loved one, but also transfers into the economic and social sphere.”

The list of contributors include the likes of Dr. Temsula Ao, Monica Banerjee, Sanjib Barua, Rahul Goswami, Rupa Chinai, Mamang Dai, Lal Dena, Sumita Ghose, Tilottoma Mishr, Mitra Phukan, V Sawmveli, Shyamala Shiveshwarkar, Esther Syiem, Ashley Tellis, Nandini Thockchom, N Vijaylakshmi Brara, MK Binodini, CS Lakshmi, Freny Manecksha. The book has been edited by Preeti Gill who is an editor with Zubaan. Gill, who had earlier co-edited Shadow lives: writings on widowhood, has presented papers and contributed chapters in various publications on women and conflict in the Northeast. She has also researched and scripted three documentaries on the Brahmaputra and the north-eastern States.

A refreshing compilation.

Underground rock fest draws huge crowds

The first tour of Unseen Underground to East India lived up to its promise as it rocked the cities of Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong. Having gathered a lot of fan support down in the South, rock lovers in East India were busy waiting for Unseen Underground to come to the region. Unseen Underground had basically been conceived to promote and develop unknown rock bands of the country.

The East India leg of the tour kicked off in Kolkata on August 17 which had been witnessing sporadic rainfall for the past few days. But even the rain gods decided to take break that day and the show started as schedule at Virgose Hotel Hindustan International. The first band to perform that day was the Underground Authority, a Kolkata-based alternative rock band. The next act of the evening was Cynical Recess, a 5-piece talented melodic hard rock band from Kolkata. Their originals Chains, Goodbye Sunday were instant hits among the audience, while their covers of Skid Row’s I remember you left everyone asking for more, informed Nicky of Unseen Underground.

Kolkota’s very own Metalcore band Chronic Xorm was next on stage. They have been in the news because of their recently released EP Death, Destruction and Sermon and there was a lot of crowd support for them. The next band on stage was Lucid Recess, an alternative Rock and Metal trio from Guwahati. They started with their tracks from their recently released album Engraved Invitation and Kolkata’s rock crowd went gaga over their performance. Then there was Chronic Phobia, an Experimental Metal band, who had come all the way from Mumbai but could not perform due to some technical problems, said Nicky and added, “Nevertheless, their fans got were able to watch the band performing next day in a show, which was organized exclusively for Chronic Phobia at The Basement, alongside Underground Authority. Overall the Unseen Underground’s 1st visit to Kolkata was successful and many of the fans are looking forward to have them in the city again soon.”

The second leg of the tour was in Guwahati. The show kicked off at Silver Streak with a performance by Guwahati-based Death/ Thrash metal band Hammerhead. The next band on the stage was Guwahati’s most popular Lucid Recess. Like it did in Kolkata, the professional and musical skills of the band changed the entire environment in and around the stage. They kicked off the show with songs from their second album, Engraved Invitation, which has become one of the most popular Indian rock albums of the country.

The second band up was Dwar, a progressive melodic metal band from Shillong, which provided the Guwahati crowd with some wonderful guitar licks, bass licks, some splendid vocals with powerful drum grooves. Their originals The Beginning To an End, Never Again & By Your Side were an instant favourite among the crowd. The Last band of the night was Insane Prophecy, a Black Metal band from the city.

The Shillong leg of the show saw a much smaller audience than in Guwahati. Held in Tango, there was not much room for metal heads there and Demonic Ressurection was just enough lucky to get their buzz. But the crowd that had gathered was energetic and most of them were from the music fraternity. The show kicked off with a performance by Shillong-based band Pip of the Pip Of The Fourth Mother followed by Lucid Recess.

Saharia does Assam & NE proud on I-Day eve

As India gears up to celebrate its 63rd independence day and Assam yet another bandh day to be spent in front of the television set,

Mahesh Saharia

an Assamese has brought honour to the country by being nominated as the presidential friend of Indonesia – the only Indian to hold this post. Mr. Mahesh Kumar Saharia – the Chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (North East Initiative) – has made Assam and North East India proud by being the only Indian to have been invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia to attend the Indonesian Independence Proclamation Commemoration as Presidential Friends of Indonesia.

The Indonesian Independence Proclamation Commemoration recognizes 24 scholars’ from16 countries for their outstanding work in multiple sectors of networking particularly with South East and South Asia, including Indonesia. The conference will take place between 15-21 August, and its itinerary will include invitations to formal Indonesia Independence Day celebrations on 17 August. Saharia belongs to the illustrious tea planter family of Dibrugarh, Assam.

India and Indonesia have historic ties which date back to centuries. A stable democracy is now in place in Indonesia after a very long time and the country has now been able to achieve one of the highest growth rates in the world, right next to China and India. Both India and Indonesia provide great scope for synergy in different areas of economy besides sharing cultural and historical affinity.

Saharia will attend the Indonesian Independence Day ceremony as the guest of honour at the Istana Mardeka or State Place, besides holding discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, the Indonesian Chmber of Commerce, scholars of the Universitas Indonesia and the famous Gadjah Mada Universitas on various subjects, including Democracy – its challenges and prospects, economic development amidst the world recession, and the like.

Thanks to Saharia, the ICC is now taking a lot of proactive steps to build on the country and Northeast India’s affinity with the South east Asian countries. The last two NE Business Summits have been able to attract practically all the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of these Countries to the Northeast and the same has now started paying rich dividends.

Young brigade rocks Assam Convention 2010

The brave young face of Assam recently rocked the US, literally if you were thinking just in case, and that too with a bang!

Sunita, Papon and Abhishruti being felicitated

Abhishruti

I am talking about the Assam Convention held at Nashville, Tennessee last month where three representatives of the State’s cultural brigade – Angarag ‘Papon’ Mahanta, Abhishruti Bezboruah and Sunita Khaund – gave the attending Non-Resident Assamese (NRA) and their guests and second-generation children a taste of Assam’s youth power, besides overwhelming them with glittering presentations of Assamese and Indian culture alongside American folk culture.

I have always been amazed by the amount of influence roots have in our lives. While for long I have searched for the most appropriate definition for the same, I realised in the end that a person is simply incomplete without it. After all, how else would you define something that makes people go all out to preserve his or her heritage, even after moving far away from his native place to a land where this is no trace of his ancestry? Weird, if we come to think about it but a glaring truth nonetheless. And the Assam Convention celebrated in the US where people of Assamese origin gather together with their friends and well-wishers to celebrate the spirit of Assam is one of the best examples.

The first Assam Convention was held in Houston, Texas in 1980. It was a humble beginning and although there were not many participants, it was the first representation of a united Assamese Diaspora from various regions. The 31st Assam Convention 2010 – sponsored by the Assam Association of North America (AANA), the Assam Foundation of North America Inc (AFNA), and the Assam Sahitya Sabha’s North America chapter (ASSNA) – was hosted by the Assam origin residents of the lower mid-West of the US living in the states of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama with the help and support of some of the residents of the neighbouring States. The venue of the celebration was the Marriott Hotel and Resort at America’s Civil war heritage city, Franklin, Tennessee in the suburb of Nashville, the nucleus of America’s folk culture.

Talking about the convention, Assam convention 2010 host committee cultural secretary Ajanta Phookan tells me, “The theme for this year’s convention was ‘Bridging the Assamese Generations’. The focus was on encouraging talents of the Assamese diaspora across all age groups, and to promote events and activities that will facilitate in bridging the Generation Gap.”

Mukoli Bihu

The exhibition


The convention, which kicked off with the performance of the national anthems of both India and the US, had impressive cultural items lined up throughout. If Assam was represented by three of its brightest stars, the West too was represented by three celebrities. Nashville singing sensation Jennie Williamson performed the US anthem to mark the beginning of the convention, while Nashville Opryland celebrity duo, Becca Hadzor and Michael Krejci, performed an enthralling session of country music for almost an hour. The opening number of the inaugural day’s performance, however, was the rendition of a traditional Borgeet by Ranjana Dutta, which was followed by a Xatriya dance recital by Lalita Kalita of Illinois.

And if you thought, the remaining of the event was devoted to plain rhetoric you better think again. In the words of host committee chairman Atul Sharma, “The hotel and the resort was transformed into a hub of Assamese culture and performances with abundance of authentic Assamese food and the famed Asomiya hospitality for the participants from Canada, the US, UK, a few from India and Assam, and the ever-curious American guests. Credit goes to the food committee, led by Anee Deka, Eva Sarma and Gina Barua, which coordinated and mobilized the entire host committee and neighboring families to pitch in with a variety of Assamese pithas and snacks that could not be finished even after the convention. The sumptuous dinners, the décor, the presentation with a very personal touch will be remembered for a long time to come.”

Not only the guest artistes and Assamese cuisine, the first and second generation artistic talents of Assamese origin also added the flavour and colour of Assamese culture to the remaining sessions that were divided into three sections – adult, youth and children programmes. “Canadian resident Mitali Sarma, US residents Ranjana Datta, Krishanu Kaushik, Chitralehka Deka, Shrilekha Deka and many others provided breaks to Papon, Abhishruti and Sunita’s entertainment. Tablist Babul Borah and young guitarist Chiranjit Bordoloi accompanied most of the artists tirelessly at all times. Rekha Kalita, Sneha Hazarika, Swapnalee Sarma, Babita Baruwati and Piyalee Das-Sarma presented various traditional Assamese and Indian classical dances. Parvez Hussain and his daughter Neeshan from Minnesota thrilled the gathering with their fusion dance, whereas American youth, Wes Newell, aroused the crowd with his bollywood dancing,” said host committee vice-chairman Ranjan Deka. He further added, “The highlights of the dancing segment would have to be the flawless presentations of two second generation sisters who have been born, brought up and trained in the US. While Megha and Devika Kataki performed Bharatyam, Elina and Raina Sarmah’s fusion of Indian classical dances were enchanting memories of the convention.

The children cultural program under the leadership of Joyee Dutta and the glittering fashion show encouraging three generation participation were other popular events that were attended by
all. The cultural program for children, held under the leadership of Joyee Dutta, and the glittering fashion show coordinated by Sneha Dutta also encouraged wide participation, says Phookan.

Atul Sarma said, “Every night there were ‘Assamese National’ events, Bihu singing and massive community dancing. The Michigan group won the ‘Annual Anima Bhattacharjya-Chakravarty Memorial Trophy’ for chorus competition of the year. The leadership for the cultural show was borne by Ajanta Phookan with enduring support from Khira Barua, who organized the thrilling events for two colourful evenings.” An exhibition on the Assamese way of life was another added attraction of the convention. Coordinated by Lalita D Kalita, Bandana Sharma and Sharmistha Bhattacharya, the exhibition saw original paintings, photographs, tea gift baskets, crafts work of various communities being displayed. The exhibits also included a hundred-year old kingkhapor mekhela, brass utensils, old Assamese books, etc.

But it was event – ‘Bridging of the Assamese generations’ that brought the entire convention to its feet. As Atul Sarma says, “Our young guest artistes from Assam are giving a new aura to Assamese music by building on the foundation laid by our maestros. The age-old Assamese culture is truly dynamic and the same finds representation in the music of Abhishruti, Sunita and Papon. From tenor and tune to the vocabulary and composition, the evolving jingle was mesmerizing – keeping all, young and adult alike, spellbound. Like the musicians, the Assamese DJ Samantha too kept everyone – the young and old alike – hesitant to move away from the dance floors.” Reminiscing about the event, Abhishruti says, “My experience in the Assam Convention was simply fabulous. The people were extremely warm, encouraging and more importantly, participative. Since they had invited me for the second time, I felt I had to live up to their expectations and I hope I was able to fulfil that. I thoroughly enjoyed performing amongst the Assamese people of America.”

Ajanta Phookan adds, “The children, teens and the young adults were all excited and energized. For them it was great fun and they did not want to leave the auditorium till the wee hours of the morning. They loved hanging out with the DJ and our overseas artists. For the first time they could connect with artistes from Assam! Likewise, the older folks were also excited. ‘We like the new age music, we love the new face of ASSAM,’ was the view many heard. It is now clear that there is an unbroken tie of continuity exists between the different generations. We are rest assured that our next generation will keep our dreams alive.”

Moving away from the cultural arena, the ASSNA published its annual publication‘Luitor pora Mississippi’, during its routine annual meeting. This issue of the magazine was edited by Mrs Gayatri Siddhanta Sharma and Dr Chandra Sekhar Sharma. AANA and AFNA also paid rich tributes to illustrious economist and reputed community leader Dr. Jitendra Gopal Borpujari who passed away last year in Washington DC. In addition, the gathering recalled and mourned the recent demise of two members of the community, Madhab Deka of Texas and Indrajit Goswami of Vancouver, Canada.

At the end of it all, the message was loud and clear. The 31st Assam convention was one of the finest ever, as can be gauged from the comments of most of the participants. And also the fact that Assam’s cultural legacy is safe in the hands of its young brigade!

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