Table of contents for Brahmaputra Valley
- Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley- Learning Bihu
- Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley – Nameri National Park
- Days Out in Brahmaputra Valley-Nameri & Tezpur
Recently we returned from our unforgettable tour of Bhutan, so a celebration was due by now. And publishing the story of our Bhutan tour in Ghumakkar was just icing on the cake. Then what? Hurrah! “Let’s go again”.
Truly “Fortune comes to those who seek it”. It was precisely inevitable for us too. With the arrival of spring, comes the “Bohag Bihu” or “Rongaali Bihu” in Assam, a festival of music, dance and sowing. This most colourful spring festival of Assam also indicates the beginning of Assamese New Year, which is around April 15. In this festivity, the valley of Brahmaputra comes alive with the rhythms of Bihu songs and dances. The joy and merriments continues for long seven days. So we had weeklong holidays here in Guwahati and we planned for an outing in the valley of mighty Brahmaputra. We decided to watch and enjoy Bihu dances on the first day followed by a visit to the Nameri National Park & Tiger Reserve near Tezpur on the next day.
We flagged on the first day tour and entered into the judges’ field located right on the centre of Guwahati City. AASU, a student union, was organizing Bihu Dance for celebrations in the open field. It is performed in the open field and hence called Mukuli (Open) Bihu. People gathered here in huge number and many had already occupied the chairs kept under sheds circling the field. Others, like us, who reached here late, were trying hard to get a convenient place to watch the jubilant youthful passionate Bihu dance. I found my place in the middle of crowds. But some tall youths, who were blessed by the GOD with such a sterling heights, suddenly came and stood in front of me. They were standing like a monument and my visibility to the field came to an end. I headed back, the last try I must give. I took out my DSLR camera, hanged in the neck, confidently marched forward right through the crowd, a request with certainty “Side Please”, and a show off to convey them, Oh dear! my place was in the front. I do not know why, but it worked, some might have taken me as a reporter, but in the end I found a place right in the front. I, then very carefully choose a place, took a posture with my right knee on the ground, camera on my hands to click.
No, I didn’t have to wait for long. The boys entered into the field powerfully beating the Dhols (drums) accompanied by songs of love and passion, amazingly playing Pepa(Hornpipes) and many other indigenous instruments. The dancers were performing in a circle which gradually gained momentum. Through the performances, boys were inviting the girls to the land of romance. The girls responded to their call very soon and joined them in the dance.
The girls, added to their beauty and glory, were wearing Assamese Mekhela Chadar. Bihu songs and the graceful dancing built up an atmosphere of love and romance. Expression of joys of the spring and exuberance of youth were present in their dance.
The brisk stepping, flinging and flipping of hands and swaying of hips in performing Bihu dance with youthful passion continued.
I stood up, looked for my friends. I could not see them. It was not easy to come out from such a crowd, still I managed, and found them waiting for me near the car at the road side parking area. It was time to have a taste of some Assamese cuisine. So we relished our lunch at an ethnic Assamese restaurant and called off the day.
Next day early in the morning we started our journey to Nameri National Park which is located 35 KM away from Tezpur town on the north bank of the River Brahmaputra. Tezpur is well connected with Guwahati and is 186 KM away from it. The location of Tezpur Air Base bears a great significance, because it lies strategically surrounded by China, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh on each side. We were driving reasonably fast and stopped just 12 KM before Tezpur for a small break.
Tezpur and its suburbs are still haunted by the Chinese attack in the Indo China War of 1962. Because during the war, “The PLA penetrated close to the outskirts of Tezpur, Assam, a major frontier town nearly fifty kilometers from the Assam-North-East Frontier Agency border. The local government ordered the evacuation of the civilians in Tezpur to the south of the Brahmaputra River, all prisons were thrown open, and government officials who stayed behind destroyed Tezpur’s currency reserves in anticipation of a Chinese advance” (italic portion quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War).
Photo Source: http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/military-multimedia/43476-1962-india-china-war-memories-photos.html
We saw Girls performing beautiful Bihu dance in Guwahati but when it was needed, they were not behind in taking up arms to fight out the Chinese Army.
It is almost 52 years old by now, but the region has not yet forgotten Nehru’s speech in November 1962 on All India Radio following the fall of Bomdila (in Arunachal Pradesh, about 150KM from Tezpur) when he said, “My Heart Goes Out To The People of Assam”. Yes, we were only 12 KM away from Tezpur which was virtually given up by the then Prime Minister of India.
…….. to be continued