The Assamese Community of Australia celebrated the first Assam Convention on a beautiful day at the Pennant Hills Community Centre of Sydney on the 1st October 2016. This was a wonderful opportunity for the Assamese diaspora of Australia to meet, greet and share the cultural roots of beautiful Assam.
The day of the convention started with games of Badminton by players with great fun and frolic.
The Cultural evening commenced with a welcome speech delivered by Nayeem Islam, President of Assamese Association ACT & NSW. The president gave an overview of Assam Convention Australia and how the initiative was taken for building a strong Assamese community in multicultural Australia. The Convention was inaugurated by the Consul General of India, Sydney Mr. B. Vanlalvawna. Shikha Chowdhury from Sydney highlighted his career achievements. Mr. Vanlalvawna highlighted the cultural achievements of the Assamese Community in Australia. The lighting of the lamp – ‘Bonti Projjolon’ was carried by a representative from each Australian state and territory such as ACT, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. The Consul General also inaugurated the first edition of the souvenir magazine “Xomonnoy”.
Soma, Shrutidhara, Debanka were the Masters of Ceremonies for the occasion. Soma beautifully started the evening and Shrutidhara and Debanka hosted the cultural programs with great energy and enthusiasm.
The cultural evening started with a Xatriya dance by Nilakshi Borah of Melbourne who beautifully presented “Ram Kotha.” This vandana began with “Nandi Sloka” which is sung in praise of Lord Ram. Her performance really enthralled the minds of the audience.
The representatives of Australian states sang a beautiful ensemble of “Dola he Dola” by Late Dr Bhupen Hazarika. The incredible thing of this performance was that the singers never met and practiced together before.
The team from Canberra captivated the crowd through their fabulous performances such as Alex and Manash’s soulful instrumental recital of the song ‘Mayabini’ by Zubin Garg and Manab Sarma’s mind-boggling performance of Mime. The theme of the Mime was “live and let me live”. It was based on the story of a bird and the hunter.
Bhaxa Ghor” Sydney presented the ten incarnations of Lord Krishna’s “Daxavatar.” Sushmita showcased this in a dance form chanting the prayer from Nam Ghoxa “Matsa kurma naroxinho” with “Xonkho” or conch. The dance was performed by very talented Lara, Tara, and little Krishna Arohan and introduced by Anay ,Adi, Neev, Arhi, Vedantic, Akash and Dion with candles in their hands. This is to be noted that the Assamese community in Sydney has invested time and energy in establising an informal language and cultural appreciation school “Bhaxa Ghor”- providing children with an insight into their Assamese roots, culture and traditions.
The talented children from Melbourne presented a skit which was followed by a Jeng Bihu. It was really delightful to see young children presenting the Assamese culture to the broader community. The skit was performed by Barsa, Lisa, Rahul Doloi, Rahul Rajkhowa, Priyanka, Aarush, Eashan, Riha, Lisan, Rayaan, Keanu, and Yoana. The Jeng Bihu was indeed very musical and colourful got the audience to clap their hands. The participants were Monjita, Barnali, Jonali, Mitali, Prashanti, Papari, Partha and Shekhar.
The cultural evening also featured a number of old and new Assamese melodies, performed by the local artists namely Manoj, Jharna, Shekhar, Prashanti, Gitanjali, Sushmita, Pragati, Bhaskar and supported by Pranab, Pranjal and Moni in accompanying instruments. All the singers enchanted the audience with their magnificent performances.
The husband-wife duo of Papori Barua and Pranjal Bora from Perth, Western Australia also enchanted the audience with their powerful performance. Pranjal composed the back ground score of the songs and accompanied Papori on acoustic guitar.
Prarthana Devi’s touching recitation of the poem “Aghonar Kuwoliye bat bheti korise amoni” by popular Assamese poet and lyricist late Keshab Mahanta further added to the ambience of the cultural function.
The most anticipated performance of the Convention was Bihu performance by Sydney Bihu dol whose performance was not only popular among the Assamese community globally but also in native Assam as well. It indeed created the atmosphere of “Bihu Toli.” Their superb performance was greatly appreciated by all the audience. The Bihu dol was led by Bhaskar Chetia and the participants were Nandini, Jharna, Leena, Vinita, Gayatri, Prarthana, Chandan, Pranab and Moni.
Another mesmerising program of the event was a ‘Medley’ – that would walk everyone through the different pages of Assamese music and gave a complete picture of Assam’s rich cultural heritage. Gitanjali and Sushmita very meticulously and beautifully compiled this combination of music to give a glimpse of the real melody of Assam. The medley comprised of Bihu, Biya nam, Borgeet, Jhumur, jikir, Goalporia lookgeet etc. Shikha, Manoj, Prarthana, Gitanjali, and Sushmita’s spellbound singing performance took the audience to the land of the Blue Hills and the mighty Brahmaputra River.
Another brilliant program of the evening was a play, ‘Sita Horon’ performed by team Melbourne. The actors performed the popular Ramayana Characters with much humour and managed to get the audience into fits of laughter. The drama was acted and directed by Dr Pranjal Deka and the actors were Dr Achyut Haloi, Dr Vibhuti Mahanta, Dr Hemanta Doloi, Rituraj Rajkhowa, Ritwick Borah, Shekhar Baruah, Indrani Borah, Bhargavi Baruah, Manas Pathak, Dhan Rai Baruah, Papari Barman and Rangam Rajkhowa.
The evening ended with a Bihu song started by Papori Barua from Perth. Papori invited everyone to the stage and everyone revelled in singing and dancing to popular Bihu geet. It was a moment to be cherished forever in the first Assam Convention Australia when everyone performed together in one platform creating a real sense of togetherness and brotherhood. The audience also participated in this Mukoli Bihu and wholeheartedly enjoyed the cultural evening. The Assamese community’s popularity and recognition are spreading all over Australia gradually. These Assamese residents of Australia’s continuous effort have made the bond of Assam’s cultural and literary heritage more powerful and effective through this noble platform of Assam Convention Australia.