Rongali Bihu was dusted off and repackaged in the mid-seventies by the elders of Assamese society to give Assam today’s sub-nationalism identity called Assamese.
The Assamese sub-nationalism, which is most of us are very proud of, is a recent phenomenon grew along the Assam Agitation where Bihu was marketed in a systematic way using its nonreligious character to give the entire Assam a common identity.
It is difficult to believe now that till mid-seventies, Bihu hardly had come out of old Sibsagar district. Except for the seasonal Bihu songs by the All India Radio, a handful stage Bihus of Guwahati, Bihu, and its paraphernalia remains stuck in the old Sibsagar district,.
Even there was no uniformity of the Gamocha till the early nineties when even green colour gamocha was equally common in lower Assam.
The dhol, nachoni and bihu songs were nonexistent pockets of upper Assam. There were traditional Bihu amongst the tribals of Assam but all were brought under one bouquet and unrolled before people Assam with an eye of making one common identity only in the mid-seventies.
Assamese sub-nationalism, which is often in overt display taking many us to the edge of being called racist, is a post-independence phenomenon stitched together through Bihu by the elders to give Assam the political taste of regionalism.
Many will like to disagree and disbelief, that sublime sub-nationalism of Assamese came into being only in the early seventies when the social leaders of Assam repackaged Bihu as the best-combining factor and calculatedly brought it out from the pockets of greater Sibsagar district and gently unrolled it over the Brahmaputra valley to give the shape regionalism.
Today Bihu can be seen in Nalbari, Goalpara and even the riverine Char areas but the very fact that till mid-sixties, Bihu hardly had crossed the traditional boundaries of the old Sibsagar district.
A section of the elders of post-Independence Assam had realized that Assam was not taking the regional character because of strong nationalistic flavor and the heavy influence of Gandhi-Nehru on their life.
Regionalism was not in air then the Bihu was tossed out; repackaged, polished, rawness smoothened, religious part was reduced and unrolled over the Brahmaputra valley.