The London Bihu Committee (LBC), UK, held their annual Rongali Bihu celebration last Sunday, the 3rd May 2009. The event was held in a new location in Hornchurch, East London and the changeable British weather kindly held up for the occasion.
The Committee deliberately chose a larger venue on the back of Rongali London Bihu 2008's staggering success. The Campion School is of Catholic denomination and the multicultural and inclusive nature of the British Assamese community could not be better summed up than celebrating the reaping of the Brahmaputra-induced harvest in front of Mother Mary herself.
The hall itself was decorated with ample Xorais, japis gamosas and incongruously hung balloons on the pillars. One keen observer noted the hall wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a temple or a kid's party! The ladies of the LBC did themselves proud by making a range of home made Assamese jolpan Sira-doi-gur (Suravi Lahon), Narikol laroo (Krishna Baruah) , Ghila pitha (Geeta Borooah), Tilor laroo (Neera Borkakoti). These were complimented with a variety of cakes (Ilu Ahmed) and children’s food (Geeta Sikdar) and children’s snacks (Neeta Borkakoti)...all much appreciated by the eager crowd.
After an energetic opening speech by Neera Borkakoti, the LBC President, the cultural show featured some of the youngest members of the British Assamese community displaying their dancing talents to such good effect that there was a repeat performance in the second half - back by popular demand!
The main guest artist was Prija Goswami from Guwahati, who wooed the crowd with her splendid Satriya and Bihu dances. We then had the usual display of Husori, singing, dancing and musical performance that we have come to expect from the cultural show.
The Vote of thanks was once again this year given by the LBC General Secretary Sanjay Sikdar in his own inimitably laid back style, and as usual he didn't forget to thank anyone, including the chap who was rolling out the dough for the puris.
This year, it is fair to say that London Rongali Bihu broke their own records set last year in terms of attendance and popularity. The hundreds of revellers present enjoyed the time set aside for Bihu dance, and the atmosphere generated by the enthusiasm of the audience meant that the drink flowed freely. Some people certainly seemed especially thirsty.
The finale of the evening was the Bihu Bhoj with tender chicken, spicy okra and melt in the mouth lamb amongst a plethora of other dishes. The Rasomalai police were also out in full force to prevent the premature consumption of the hall's favourite dessert and fortunately they did not have to make too many arrests.
All in all it is understating things to say we are all looking forward to next year. Rongali Bihu: what do we do? Usually drink, usually dance, usually bhalkoi -khou.
Jayanta Borkakoti, Rishi Kakati