Nationalism And Regionalism

Rongali Bihu and Elections

Bishaldeep Kakati

The society people reside in is composed of a lot of opin ionated persons, who more or less love voicing out or giving their analysis on topics bothering a community or the society as a whole. Thus in one or the other way, the burgess takes full advantage of the 'Right to freedom of speech and expression' guaranteed under article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.

The conspicuous fact is that like every time, the glorious state of Assam and its ever so generous denizens have reached such a juncture, where they are witnessing two important events colliding or merging with one another. And in fact both the events are of crucial importance, especially because of their impact upon the society. If on one hand, the people of Assam are readying themselves up to celebrate the 'Lifeline of the Community i.e. the Rongali Bihu, on the other hand they are also trying to keep in terms with the General Lok Sabha Elections, the importance of which is second to none, especially when we take into consideration the fact that India is considered to be the largest democratic country in the world. Thus in short, the residents of Assam in this period must keep both their Nationalism and Regionalism spirits alive.

However this is not the first time that the people of Assam would witness both the important events happening together. In yesteryears as well, there had been instances of both the events falling together, and much to the people's happiness, the fact is both the events had moved together peacefully without chaos. But the pivotal question that lingers around is: Are the people of Assam turning a blind eye towards the negative impact of elections upon Bihu? And to answer this question one must have to take certain issues into consideration.

In the present context, it is known to one and all that the General Elections of 2019 will be conducted in Assam in three phases i.e. on April 11, 18 and 23. And now if one carefully takes these dates into consideration, then we would notice that these dates are exactly on that time period, when the Bihu celebrations shall remain at its peak. Thus this means that the unique ambience that the festival of Bihu creates, somewhere down the line would be greatly affected by the occurrence of elections, as politics and culture are poles apart from one another. In simple words, the essence of Bihu can never be kept intact or balanced especially when there is something called elections orbiting it from every angle.

The second most important issue that cannot be ignored at any instance is the adverse impact that elections can have upon the structure and the anatomy of Rongali Bihu. The common perception is that whenever people confabulate about 'Rongali Bihu', it brings to mind folk music and tunes, bihu dances etc, but even this important facet of Bihu is polluted by the extremely loud noises that the candidates contesting elections use in order to popularise themselves or blow their own trumpet. So the natives are left with the dilemma that whether they should try to break the monotonous routines of their humdrum lives by wetting themselves up in the cultural waves of Bihu or simply make their zeal and enthusiasm get punctured by hearing all those over repetitive self-proclaimed stuffs.

Bihu, which was originally celebrated in the rice and paddy fields or under tree shades was later given a different dimension when it was organized on the stage for the very first time, under the visionary leadership of Radha Govinda Baruah. And in the present time, it is almost impossible to consider the festival of Bihu without the 'Bihu Functions' that are organised in every nook and corner of the state. But the sad fact is that when the ambience of elections lingers around, even the bihu stages experience the affect of elections, since people have clearly witnessed how most of the artistes use the stages to voice out their opinions regarding whom to vote, why to vote or vice versa. Thus although people try to avoid these stuffs, and keep themselves busy in the milieu of Bihu celebrations, but unfortunately even the Bihu stages get politicized and that directly destroys the main motive of celebrating the festival.

Not only this but also some of the political leaders use the Bihu stages to popularise themselves or their persons of interest, thus politicising it to a greater extent. Most of the banners surrounding the Bihu functions are no different either as they are mainly used to portray certain political agendas and motives, thus directly diminishing the objectives of celebrating the festival. The common people on the other hand are made to experience an ambiguous scenario, where they become bewildered on the fact that whether they are experiencing Bihu and Elections together or more of Elections and less of Bihu. Moreover, the noticeable fact is that even some of the singers during Bihu, come up with songs having a flavour of Elections, thus ruining the natural and melodious tunes and lyrics of Bihu. Thus it feels that when Bihu and Elections combine directly or indirectly, the ego of elections almost completely engulfs the ardour and fervour associated with Bihu celebrations.

However, the need of the hour is that people must find ways to ensure that the festival of Bihu is not adversely affected, especially when there are elections happening on the same time. The people need to understand that both the events are of equal importance, and if sometimes they fall together, then the common mass should not make a mess of it by completely mixing the two as one single event. The burgess should accept both the events one at a time and must lay significant importance to both in the manner it is necessary. The cultural aspect of Bihu and the political aspect of Elections should never be combined, so as to maintain the salubrious balance between the two. And thus it remains the duty of each and every individual of Assam to formulate a rational ratio between the two for the greater interest of all the citizens.


Vol. 51, No. 47, May 26 - Jun 1- 18, 2019