Assam Association Participates in Diwali San Antonio with Bihu Dance

By Runmee Barbara

San Antonio: On November 6, Festival of Lights filled the air with sounds and colors at Hemisfair park and Tower of Americas, San Antonio, Texas. Diwali is the largest city-sanctioned festival open to public every year. This year, the 13th annual Festival of lights was celebrated in-person with great enthusiasm and spirit. The City of San Antonio together with Anuja SA has been fulfilling this cultural tradition since 2009. Anuja SA Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes Indian culture and maintains the sister-city alliance between San Antonio, Texas, USA and Chennai, India.

This festival, at the heart of San Antonio, features customary Indian dance, traditional food, classical & Bollywood music, yoga, fireworks, art displays, handloom, handcrafts, henna art as well as  jewelry bazaar. The celebrations take place by lighting diyas or floating candles at the river of San Antonio city and attended by Ron Nirenberg (Mayor of San Antonio) and other city council dignitaries.

It was a very bright and lively evening with the sounds of Indian drummers from different states of India filling up the atmosphere. There was a regional diya parade and representatives from each state were dressed up in their traditional outfits.

For the first time, twelve Indian states represented Rangoli (Traditional Indian floor art) or Kolam on display at the festival. It was a moment of great pride for the Assamese community to be a part of these festivities too. The Assam team represented their state by making Rangoli of symbolic items like the Japi (conical bamboo hat worn by farmers), Xarai (Traditional offering tray made of bell metal) and Gamusa (handwoven scarf offered for respect) designed and decorated by rice and lentils at a 10 by 10 tarp base. Dr Lopita Nath (originally from Guwahati), has lived in SA for many years and has been actively representing Assam at the Indian Association of SA through her Bihu performances. This year was very different and totally memorable for all and the participants for rangoli were Avi Kakoty, Runmee Barbara, Somya and Dr Nath herself.

Guests and visitors come from all over to attend this event. They get an opportunity to experience the vibrant Indian customs and traditions as this celebration represents the triumph of good over evil or light over darkness.

Assam Association of San Antonio also participated at the regional Diwali celebrations held by Indian Association of SA, a week earlier. They represented Assam by a Bihu dance using ban bati (Assamese traditional bowl) as a prop and Jhumur dance showing the tea culture of Assam. Jhumur folk dance was performed for the first time in the Indian Community and was an absolute delight for all. The program also had a Regional State parade in which Assam team members held a banner of Assam with tea leaves on it, woman were dressed in mekhela chador , men in traditional wear with gamusa around the neck and foot tapping bihu beats to give a warm welcome from that region.

It is an honor and pleasure to represent our state and country in a global platform. San Antonio is a place where diversity is respected and recognized. Contributions from all Indian Ethnic groups are encouraged through cultural events, festivals and religious functions. It gives us an opportunity to preserve our rich cultural heritage . Unity in diversity is what brings everyone together.

In todays, changing times and after a year of Pandemic, this event brought back a lot of memories and revitalised our souls. May this festive season of light, help spread love  and  goodness around the world.