Uncertainty over Rongali Bihu celebration prevails

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No possibility of lockdown, but night curfew to be imposed: Top officials

By: Hiranya Barman

Guwahati, April 7: The chances of celebrating Rongali Bihu this year too seem slim, with the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in Assam. The fate of various Rongali Bihu organising committees hang in balance, as they are nervously awaiting the government’s directive on the matter.

Top officials suggested that there is no possibility of another lockdown, but night curfews may be imposed. This is far from being relieving, as most Bihu functions start either in the evening or late at night.

“Things are far from being favourable as of now. Even if not with the previous grandiose, like yesteryears, permission to celebrate Bihu keeping for the sake of custom and formality might be granted. Authorities are also mulling on imposition of night curfew in a subtle manner. However, keeping in mind the timings of Bihu functions which are generally scheduled towards evening and continue for the whole night, viability of night curfew has to be analysed properly,” a top official told ‘The Hills Times’.

“The election rallies broke all Covid-19 guidelines. Complete violation and non-adherence of Covid-19 protocols throughout the rallies were seen every day. People will not follow lockdown guidelines even if it is imposed. People will question the logic of organising election rallies amid Covid-19 surge and bar on organising Bihu celebrations,” a top official said on anonymity.

Till date no Bihu committee in the city has asked for permission from Kamrup (metro) district administration to organize Bihu functions in any part of the city

Bihu functions were cancelled last year due to surge in Covid-19 cases in Assam. Even Guwahati Bihu Sanmilan, one of the oldest Bihu organisers, credited to have brought Bihu functions on stage in 1952 kept in hold celebrations last year for the first time in history. The organisers although completed their preparations waiting for government directives this year as well.

“We have completed preparations. Artistes have been contacted and payments were negotiated. However, if government directives go against organising functions we have nothing to say,” Guwahati Bihu Sanmilan member Kailash Sarma said.

The Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani Samannayrakkhi Samiti president Ranjan Bora however sounded optimistic and certain that they would be getting the chance to organize Bihu functions this year. The Samiti is the umbrella body of 28 Bihu committees in Guwahati.

“If the political parties can hold election rallies, organisers can hold Bihu celebrations. Moreover, the state health minister said that there is no bar in organizing Bihu this year. Preparations are in full swing,” Bora said.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has also been gearing up for the Rongali Bihu celebrations throughout the state. The student’s body has been holding Mukoli Bihu celebrations since 1982 which was halted for the first time last year. AASU holds the central celebration of Mukoli Bihu at Judges Field in Guwahati every year. Chief advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said that AASU sounded positive while talking about organising Bihu in all parts of the state this year.

AASU general secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said that although preparation for organizing Bihu celebrations centrally is currently going on, AASU will wait for the government directive.

Bihu committees further urged for a government scheme covering the artistes of the state. The urgent need of a government scheme was felt when Covid-19 induced lockdown hit the artistes hard last year. With celebrations and functions cancelled last year many of the artistes of the state had to leave their vocation and search for other sources of livelihood. Moreover, Bihu organisers also urged the established artistes to reduce their fees per show this year which would help the organisers to maintain a balance between the struggling and the established.

 

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