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Assam’s Rongali Bihu Will Not Be The Same This Year, But Let’s Not Lose Heart

Posted: April 10, 2020

Adversity does not last forever, and we will certainly be seeing the light of day away from this darkness. What will keep us going during these hard times is hope, patience, and composure.

I placed a challenge for myself as I looked back in retrospection at how my life has run for the last several weeks. I took a pledge that I’d share my experiences without a single mention of the malaise the entire world is now talking about. But without having to mention the word even once in my post, I’m supremely confident that my readers will identify with what I am talking about.

All of humanity is in the same boat, caught up in a storm. We have to beat all odds and conquer it! My story, in many ways, will be similar to the testimonies of a big number of those people across the world who have been confined indoors. Volumes of stories have been told and re-told. Yet we all have our distinct tune, while singing the story of our lives, that is unique in its own way.

A different spring

Lately, I’ve been waking up every morning to the chirping of birds in my backyard. Earlier, I had seen the driveway and the cars outside covered in yellow pollen dust. The camellia and the cherry blossoms are blending beautifully against the canopy of the azure sky. The earth, with her beautiful bounties, is still in compliance with the laws of nature. But with a mind flooded with worries, it does seem like a different spring to me.

Rongali or Bohag Bihu, which is the Assamese New Year, is right around the corner. Like anyone else from Assam, it is very close to my heart. It is that time of the year when magical melodies fill the air, when the young and old revel in the gaiety of the festive season. Bhupen Hazarika, the bard of the Brahmaputra and the uncrowned king of North-East India’s musical world, had beautifully described bohag in a song. He explained that spring is not just a month or a season, but the lifeline of the Assamese people, an inspiration for their social life.

Sadly, Bihu this time will not be like other years when fun, food, music, and dance are synchronized in colorful festivity. Is this anything else other than the truth about the story of human civilization, which Heraclitus summarized in paradoxical terms? Centuries ago, the pre-Socratic philosopher had said: “The only thing that is constant is change”. Not just Assam, but other states in India who celebrate festivals in April with heartfelt gaiety are now in a changed atmosphere where the joy and exuberance will either be absent or will be extremely low-key.

Let’s take joy in the little things!

No matter how dark a situation is, it is possible to sail through it with grace and ease by making the best out of the unfavorable circumstances. There are so many things that we overlook, and we fail to realize that the little moments are the very strands that make up the mosaic of our lives. So let’s enjoy them to the brim. Our daily routine these days is an overwhelmingly busy one. So why not take this opportunity and maximize family time while we are home and also indulge in those activities that we have all along wanted to do?

For those of us who love music, we have the chance to listen to all of the lovely melodies we want. Perhaps sing along too! It’s a source of entertainment and has great therapeutic potential.

It is a wonderful idea to begin the day with yoga and pranayama, and I have been doing so. Let us fall back upon what ancient Indian tradition had gifted us centuries ago. It’s good to relax the mind and let go of the stress. After all, it’s the happy mind that paves the way for a healthy body.

The family that cooks together stays together, goes the saying. I have a brigade of my husband, my son, and my niece giving me a helping hand in the kitchen. In fact, my 23-year-old has discovered cooking as a hobby and in his free time has treated the family to scrumptious dishes. It has also given me an opportunity to impress upon him that cooking is an activity designated not just for women and that both boys and girls need to be equally proficient in domestic chores in order to comfortably cruise through life.

I totally agree that it is not easy to be inside the house for such extended periods and stay away from socializing. Our normal lives and activities have been disrupted. But we need to think beyond such obstacles. The wellness and safety of ourselves and of our dear ones should be our primary concern now. This is the hour when we need to count our blessings, be thankful for every day when we have woken up to the rising sun, and be grateful for everything we have. Our thoughts and prayers need to be with all those who are in a much worse situation than ours.

I am happy that I have succeeded in the challenge that I set for myself to express my thoughts without having to name the invisible monster that is shaking the world. Adversity does not last forever, and we will certainly be seeing the light of day away from this darkness. What will keep us going during these hard times is hope, patience, and composure. As I sign off on a positive note, I dwell on the powerful lyrics of “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson which are so appropriate at this time.

As the song emphasizes, there are people dying, and by caring enough for the living, we can make the world a better place for the entire human race!

Image source: Diganta Talukdar / CC BY-SA

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Born in India, Rashmi Bora Das moved to the United States in the early nineties.

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