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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  25 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

There was a time when Rongali Bihu celebrations was a week-long affair with each of the seven days having its own significance and me. Most of the indigenous groups in the State had their own Spring festivals beginning around the middle of April, which signified the start of the agricultural season. After the festivities, everyone got down earnestly to work, for there was much to do in the fields and home. However, Rongali Bihu has lost much of its rural character over the decades. In the age of 24x7 television and corporate marketing, it is now a mostly urban festival meaning big business. So the trend of seeking to derive maximum benefit from Rongali Bihu is resulting in the Bihu season continuing for weeks altogether. Bihu organizing committees armed with big budgets, compete to get top artistes. If they fail to do so, they risk disappointing the local public from whom contributions are sought sometimes. In the absence of top artistes, television channels are unwilling to give live coverage, fearing low viewers’ ratings. This in turn disappoints advertisers and sponsors roped in by Bihu committees. So top artistes hop from one Bihu pandal to another, which means that weeks will pass before all Bihu committees are satisfied. All this commercialization and lengthening of Bihu celebrations is further complicated by indiscipline. Some prominent artistes have disgraced themselves by coming drunk on stage and misbehaving with fans. Some others have made ippropriate comments, giving rise to much controversy. Bihu functions are rarely held on schedule, with many high profile artistes arriving very late, keeping spectators waiting for several hours. As a result, functions continue far beyond midnight, which is a big nuisance for people living nearby Bihu pandals. Sick and elderly people have trouble sleeping with all the music blaring over the loudspeakers. Examinees have a particularly hard time, for they can neither sleep nor study amidst the cacophony. Anti-social elements take full advantage of the very late hours to indulge in drunken and rowdy behavior. Biker gangs are also active at this time, threatening life and limb of pedestrians. As for the artistes, their late-coming is accompanied with a huge risk to their musical troupes. There have been tragic accidents during the Bihu season over the years, involving musician groups returning home in the wee hours when it is dangerous to drive. For all these reasons, it is high time law enforcers, Bihu organizers, artistes and an enlightened public come together to ensure orderly and timely holding of Bihu functions. Rongali Bihu cannot be an excuse for all-round indiscipline and nuisance.

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