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Assam’s moment is here and now—India recognising Lachit Borphukan, the humble gamusa

On 13 April 2023, a historic moment unfolded as over 11,304 Bihu dancers, artists, and instrumentalists etched their names in golden letters by scripting the record for the largest Bihu dance performance at a single venue in the Guinness Book of World Records’ folk-dance category. This momentous achievement was not only a source of great pride for the state of Assam but also a moment of reckoning for a region once plagued by militancy.

The month of Bohag brings festivity in the state. People welcome the new year with great joy and celebrations. Bohag Bihu 2023 was marked by great fanfare, with the state bagging two world records. While the event was a fantastic display of Assam’s vibrant culture, it was also a celebration of the state finally breaking away from the shackles of militancy and agitation and heading towards playing a critical role in India’s growth story.

Preserving history

Over the last few years, various efforts, not just by the government but also by the people, have been made towards mainstreaming Assam into the Indian Union. This is truly a peoples’ movement, a jan andolan, arguably bigger that the agitation that marked the early 1980s. The people of Assam celebrated the 400th birth anniversary of their bravest son Bir Lachit Borphukan with great splendour. On that occasion too, the state made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in the ‘Largest Online Photo Album of Handwritten Notes’ category, with the entry of over 42.94 lakh handwritten essays on the folk hero. People’s will and mass participation has driven the government and the state closer to Delhi.

The commemoration of the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Borphukan was a grand and impressive event, spanning three days, held in the national capital. Dignitaries such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and other notable Union Ministers graced the occasion with their presence. In the lead-up to this event, the streets, bridges, and even the metro-trains of Delhi were adorned with the image of the Ahom General. This wasn’t simply a celebration of an Assamese hero, but a tribute to a national icon, an honour seldom witnessed before.

The government has also made significant efforts to preserve the rich history and cultural heritage of the state. An impressive memorial is being constructed on the outskirts of Guwahati at Alaboi, the site where the Ahoms delivered a significant blow to the Mughals. This memorial will showcase one of Assam’s most sacred but lesser-known symbols — a 100-ft Hengdang, a type of sword used by the Ahoms. Furthermore, efforts are underway to beautify the site of Rang Ghar, Asia’s largest pavilion located in Sibasagar, Assam.

At present, Assam boasts two of India’s 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites — Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park. Both these wildlife sanctuaries attract a considerable number of tourists every year. While Kaziranga is renowned for its majestic one-horned rhinoceroses, Manas plays a vital role in tiger conservation. Recently, President. Droupadi Murmu visited the state to inaugurate Gaj Utsav 2023, which celebrates 30 years of Project Elephant.


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