It was a bright sunny day in Guwahati. Like the previous few days, the mercury was inching Northwards.
Yet, braving the scorching heat, thousands, beginning the forenoon, started flocking to Sarusajai Stadium to witness history being made. More than 11,000 Bihuwas (male Bihu dancers with Dhol, Pepa, Gogona, etc) and Bihuwatis (Bihu Nasonis) would perform that evening to create two world records – one in Bihu dance and other in Dhol playing.
At 1 PM, these artistes assembled, with their traditional Bihu attire, on the main field, the venue for the spectacle. Enthusiasm was writ large on their bright faces.
At 3.30 PM, Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma entered the Stadium and went to the main venue of the mega Bihu show. He along with some of his Cabinet colleagues inspected arrangements.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said that Assamese people should uphold their identity in the world as a proud community. Dr. Sarma expressed optimism that the event will help to put Assam and its cultural history on the cultural map for the world to see.
“While planning this event, we were asked,’Where are these many dancers’? It is not the numbers. Bihu is in the heart of each one and finally, when we are here. There were many who had to be left out. But we will have another event with 25,000 dancers on an even bigger stage and there everyone can participate,” said Dr Sarma.
Before the final show began, Guinness World Record officials, led by its adjudicator Rishi Nath, carried out a headcount drive in the main pitch where Nasonis and Bihuwas were assembled and in few of the galleries where Bihu drummers (Bihuwas with Dhol) were eagerly waiting to showcase their art. The Guinness World Record authority even used drones and other instruments for the head count.
At 5.44 PM, an official of Guinness World Record uttered -“5, 4 , 3, 2 , 1…. Go”. At 5.45 PM, the attempt began with the Bihu Naam– “Riniki Riniki Dekho Gaon Ekhoni…Dekho Gaon Ekhoni, Xeikhoni Chenaire… Xeikhoni Chenaire Gaon…” The entire stadium was on its feet.
Brisk steps coupled with rapid hand movement and rhythmic swaying of hips to the accompaniment of dhol (Drum), taal (cymbal), Mohor singor pepa (a pipe made from Buffalo horn), Gogona (a bamboo-made jaw’s harp), taka (a bamboo clapper, etc) were all in sync. A couple of Bihu songs articulated the ethos of the Assamese culture, while some were expressions of the youthful passion of love.
At 6.01 PM, the 15 minutes and 39 second performance culminated to a thunderous applause, whose echo could figuratively be heard throughout Assam.
A jubilant Chief Minister informed the gathering that the Guinness World Record authority had told him that a total of 11,304 Bihuwas and Bihuwatis were marked present in the show, a number that has surpassed the previous World Record of the largest number of folk dancers’ traditional dance performance at a single venue.
The adjudicator termed it “absolutely fantastic” and “the most mesmerising show I have seen till date.”
After the first show, the main venue was cleared for Dhulias for yet another world record attempt. In a performance spanning seven minutes, Assam etched itself into yet another world record of the “largest dhol drum ensemble” played at a single venue.
Chief Minister Dr Sarma, too, shook his legs as his Cabinet colleague and Minister of Cultural Affairs Bimal Borah sung a Bihu number at the conclusion of the event.