Is Questioning a Minister's Attempt to Unite Assamese-Bangla Communities, Too Much?

Gamosa is a cultural identity for Assamese community who offer it to others as a way to pay them respect.
Is Questioning a Minister's Attempt to Unite Assamese-Bangla Communities, Too Much?
Is Questioning a Minister's Attempt to Unite Assamese-Bangla Communities, Too Much?
Himadri Kalita

Just a few months after the Assamese Gamosa got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, it was combined and weaved with Bangla gamosa and presented at the State Delegates Conference of Bangla Sahitya Sabha.

The newly formed literary organization Bangla Sahitya Sabha held its first state-level conference at Hiteshwar Saikia Auditorium in Maligaon where the delegates honored their guests with the paired gamosa of two communities.

The conference was inaugurated by Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu in the presence of State Education Adviser Dr Nanigopal Mahanta, renowned Rabindra specialist Dr Usharanjan Bhattacharya, Vice-Chancellor of Rabindranath University Dr Amalendu Chakraborty, Rajya Sabha MP Pabitra Margherita, President of Linguistic Minorities Development Council Shiladitya Deb, and President of Assam Sahitya Sabha Suryakanta Hazarika Pramukh.

It is disappointing to witness a state cabinet minister found adorning the Assamese-Bangla paired gamosa around his neck as he lit the inaugural lamp.

For the people from the Assamese community, gamosa is a cultural identity that the people of the state offer it to others as a way to pay them respect.

Any occasion or festival is incomplete without the gamosa weaved by the Assam people. The Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced on December 13, 2022, that our Gamosa has got due recognition as it received the tag of GI bringing joy to thousands of weavers and making the people of Assam proud.

Following the announcement, the Assamese community in different parts of India and world and the residents of Assam were filled with immense joy and pride.

While attending the conference, Ranoj Pegu said, the conference was attended by hundreds of representative from two valleys, Barak and Brahmaputra, who considers Assam as their motherland.

He further wished them saying, "I wish the Bangla Sahitya Sabha, Assam, a literary and cultural forum of the Bengali-speaking Assam people, a bright future with the aim of building a bridge of harmony between Barak and the Brahmaputra Valley."

Although the initiative to welcome and accept the other community with peace and harmony is commendable, however, combining the gamosas from the two communities is not justifiable.

Each community and ethnic groups have its distinguished cultural symbols and heritage to preserve which should not be mixed with each other by compromising their real and aesthetic feature.

The geographical identification was attained with the motive to preserve our culture and age-old heritage.

A geographical indication (GI) is a tag or sign used on products that correspond to a specific geographical location or origin.

Several people expressing their concern said the pairing of the two gamosas is disrespectful to Assamese culture.

Ranoj Pegu who became a focus of controversy since the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination question paper leaks is now seen getting wrapped up in this new controversy.

While justifying his act of adorning the gamosa around his neck to the media, Pegu said, “At the first conference of Bangla Sahitya Sabha, they kept the photo of Rabindranath Tagore on one side while on the other side photo of Lakshminath Bezbaruah was seen. They identify themselves as Bengali-speaking Assam people. They honoured me with the paired gamosa at the event.”

“Gamosa got the GI tag which means that no other state or region can claim gamosa as their own. It was just an event where they honoured us with the gamosa. I don’t feel there should be any controversy regarding this matter as gamosa will always remain gamosa and no other region can claim it to be theirs,” he added.

He said that the issue should not be made controversial but can we accept his statement? His statement looks baseless and has no logic or valid point in it.

Pegu asked us to take the issue lightly but when the government’s entire aim is to preserve our heritage and dignity, to make it recognised on the global platform, can we accept his baseless statement?

There is even no clarification on his part as to why the two gamosas were paired up.

Now the question arises, will the government take action on such disrespect to our heritage and cultural identity which is condemned by the Assamese community?

Is Questioning a Minister's Attempt to Unite Assamese-Bangla Communities, Too Much?
Assam's Gamosa Gets GI Tag

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