Sarusajai Stadium has seldom seen more than 25 people in action with all seriousness on its deftly curated green grass, but certainly seen, many a times, over 20,000 on its famed chairs and benches to witness spectacles being played out on its revered turf.
However, April 13 produced a different game altogether. There were an unprecedented 10,000 players on its hallowed turf, giving their best for the State, and the nation.
It was a sight to behold. Bathed in majestic colours of all hues, they were symbolic not only of the famed diversity of Assam and the North East but also of any professional, when present, in the sporting venue.
One of them was Mausumi Sonowal of Jorhat. A second semester college student, Mausumi said that she was part of an 800-strong delegation representing Jorhat in the attempt to register their name in Guinness World Records. “I know a few of them only. Yet, we are working for one common goal. Emotions of thousands of families are attached with this initiative,” she informed Asom Barta, while waiting to catch her breath.
Shyamal Deka of Hajo, however, had tightly hung the decorative cover of his dhol around his neck and stuffed few pairings of clothes before embarking towards the Stadium knowing full well that he will be performing from the stands, assisting the likes of Mausumi and many thousands like hers. A teenager of 19, he was one of the over 1,100 dhulias who ringed out his Bohag Bihu excitement through his dhol.
Nearly 8.5 km from the Stadium is Sankardev Kalakshetra. The window counter there witnessed an unprecedented surge for passes from people of all age groups who were keen to be part of the unprecedented feat their fellow citizens were working on. (Such was the excitement that the State Government was forced to allow everybody an entry even without the formal passes.)
The Stadium, too, was witnessing a disciplined set of queues comprising men, women, and children. All waiting for their turn to enter the Stadium to watch these performers going through their final rehearsal under the hawk-eyed supervision of their seniors and experts. “I have been here since 7am in the morning,” said an energetic dhulia not willing to take even the slightest of chance in ensuring a heart-rending performance the same evening when Guinness supervisors will be watching them do it for themselves and their State. Also watching them with bated-breath will be their family members who have accompanied them from all over the State.
“It is one of the most memorable and impressionable moments for me in my 19 years. I was selected after a rigorous scrutiny by observers in a trial in Amingaon. I came here on April 10 and since then have stationed myself in Guwahati,” said Deka while sharing his emotion with this newsletter.
Brojen Borgohain of Chariadeo, a dhulia, stood out. He was from Charaideo, the historic town which was once the seat of the Ahom dynasty. He was there to perform for the record alongside two of his sons. “I know that I will not be part of the customary Goru Bihu (the first day of Bihu where every Assamese household takes care of their cows bathing them in a nearby pond and offering prayers to them in acknowledgement of their role on the farm) this year. But we also know we will be part of something historic and something that is emotionally part of our core,” he said without a tinge of regret.
Behind all these emotions and excitement was the role played by the State Government which facilitated possibly everything that was required for such an attempt. From master trainer to mekhelas, to buses for transportation and money for food and lodging, the Government of Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma literally opened its purse to ensure that only the nasonis and dhulias are there physically but also mentally with the feeling that they have been properly taken care of. Kamaljit Dutta, a master trainer of Nagaon was all praises for the district administration. “Nagaon is being represented by 750 artistes. It has been a seamless journey thus far. We are feeling at home. I must thank my DC and the State Government for doing this for us,” he said.
Devika Rai, a master trainer from Bongaigaon, said that for her the very idea of performing before the Prime Minister of the country was something that she had not been able to come to terms with. “It will be the most memorable day ever for me,” she summed up her feelings to this reporter.
So was the emotion of Ranjit Gogoi, the head choreographer of the programme. “This will be a document for posterity. The world will witness us and remember it for good. I think this April 14 will be the best day of my life,” he said.