Assamese Community Celebrates Cultural Heritage!

St. Louis, MO, USA: Amid great enthusiasm, festivity and delicious cuisine of Assam, the Assamese community of North America held their annual get-together, the Assam 2003, to celebrate their heritage of Assamese language and culture, in St. Louis, coinciding with the US Independence Day celebrations as well as the bicentennial commemoration of the expedition by Lewis & Clark into America's Midwest over the Missouri-Mississippi river. Joined in by all Assamese organizations of North America including Assam Association of North America, Assam Society of America, Assam Foundation of North America, Asom Sahitya Sabha of North America, and United Assamese Organization of North America, the Assam 2003 brought together more than 200 families of the Assamese community settled in North America, participating in various social and cultural activities of this 2-day event.

Beginning with the US national anthem performed by youths of the St. Louis-based host families organizing the event, the first day saw dazzling performances of popular Assamese folk songs and dances by the children and youths of the Assamese community, including the Bihu, traditional folk dance, and Xatriya, socio-religious dance, of Assam.

The young girls from the host families presented the Jhumur, dance of tea gardens in Assam. Other performers by the youths included Indian classical
dances - Odissi and Bharat Natyam. The first day's cultural program ended with a Bihu dance competition which brought scintillating performances by
three young women to the stage.

The second day of the Assam 2003 began with the annual meetings of all the sponsoring Assamese organizations. A community forum discussion on "what does it mean to be an Assamese" was held in the afternoon where more than 100 first and second-generation Assamese American adults and youths participated in the discussion.

The second day evening programs started with an Assamese chorus presented by the host families, followed by a series of song, poem, and eulogy
presented in the memory of a community member who recently passed away. As the evening progressed, the audience was treated to a mesmerizing array of Assamese songs, Assamese folk dances (Bihu, Husori), Assamese Xatriya dance (Ojhapali), Indian folk dance (Rajasthani), Indian classical dance (Bharat Natyam, Kathak & Odissi) and dances from popular Hindi movies. Highlight of the evening was the captivating Bhart Natyam peformance by Ranjeeta Bordoloi, an eminent Indian classical dancer from Assam. The evening as well as the Assam 2003 event was brought to a close with the rendition of "O' Mor Aponar DeshŠ" - the Assamese anthem.

Various sports events - Badminton, Cricket, Volleyball, and Track - were also held on both days where children, youths, and adults very
energetically participated.

A major highlight of the Assam 2003 was the bountiful food and delicacies evocating traditional Assamese cuisine such as Maachor Tenga (tangy fish curry), ladoo, pitha, and other traditional snacks of India.