ASSAM AND ASSAMESE PEOPLE
Assam is a state located in the most North-Eastern part of India. Assam is widely known for its unspoilt beauty and vast exotic natural flora and fauna, it is the state where the mighty Brahmaputra (Luit) flows through the valley that enriches its landscape, culture and heritage. Assam is also famous being the land of Assam tea growers and is furthermore renowned for its native silks, heirlooms, mineral and forest resources that are unique to the region. The people of Assam are known as Assamese and they have their own Indian language also called Assamese.
Rongali Bihu is the festival of the Assamese New Year that falls during springtime in the United Kingdom. It is one of the biggest festivals in the Assamese calendar and traditionally coincides with the preparation of fields for the seeding of rice paddy. Bihu brings people together to join in the traditional Assamese celebrations of song & dance and we continue this tradition here in the United Kingdom.
LONDON BIHU COMMITTEE
The London Bihu Committee (LBC) is a voluntary and non-profit, non-political, non-religious organisation formally established on 11th January 1987 mainly to promote the Assamese New Year. The New Year is called ‘The Rongali Bihu’ and is the heart of Assamese society and the festive symbol of the Assamese culture. It comes on 14th April, the spring time of England and in the month of Bohag in the Assamese calendar. Rongali Bihu is the Bihu of ‘rong’ or merriment and cheerfulness.
The LBC was initially developed from a subcommittee of the Assamese Cultural Association and was governed by the rules of the Association. Originally, the aim of the Association was to provide Assamese language, culture and heritage to British-Assamese children who were brought up in this country and to influence other communities who were interested in Assam.
In general, we try to hold the event on first May bank holiday to bring as many of us together from all over the UK to help us celebrate the festivities.
The Association’s activities in the past have included an Assamese School to teach Assamese language and music, dramas and musicals. This provided young British- Assamese children with an invaluable opportunity to gain a better understanding of Assam’s cultural heritage. They presented various wonderful performances of music, song, dance, drama and spoken word given in Bihu functions over the years. These children have now entered adulthood, and many have moved to different parts of the world but Assamese values and culture always accompany them.
The teaching of Assamese language gradually phased out due to lack of facilities, resources and a decrease in numbers of members. The Association then became more focused in the activities relating to the Rongali Bihu under the banner of the LBC.
The Committee meets five times a year and have general elections every two years and comprises both executive members, who are elected office bearers, as well as general members of the executive body.
In 2008, the Committee elected three members from the second generations to take up responsibilities for major roles in the executive body. Additionally, there were twenty-six members overall, out of which 50% of them were from the second generation. Their dedication has since inspired many young British born Assamese all over United Kingdom and has encouraged many to participate in the London Rongali Bihu festival.
Silver Jubilee Film commemorating 25 years of London Bihu:
The LBC realised the great success of the era and stepped in to increase its membership to offer opportunities to the wider Assamese community. The Committee aimed to further enhance the annual festival ‘Rongali Bihu’ with the new members’ fresh ideas and to provide a wider reference in areas that had not been previously covered.
This year, eleven new members successfully joined the LBC and the increase in numbers has been welcomed as one of the biggest achievements in recent years. The interaction between old and new members promote an understanding of a new beginning and the Committee feels that this will open a remarkable journey that will lead to new achievements and prosperity for the future.
LBC CONSTITUTION – Information coming soon.