GUWAHATI, Nov 23 – The Assam Association of Michigan (AAMI) paid tributes to the legendary bard of India, Asom Ratna, Sangeetsuryya Dr Bhupen Hazarika at the residence of Dr Debojit Barua and Ruma Barua in Belleville, Michigan, USA recently, an e-mail received here stated. Ruma Barua is the elder daughter of Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s childhood friend, late Nagen Bezbora. The programme was arranged by Partha Bora and Mompi Bhuyan Bora from Lansing, Michigan.
The members of the Assamese community, living in the state of Michigan, condoled the passing away of their ‘beloved Bhupenda’. They prayed for the eternal peace of his soul with two minutes’ silence. A condolence meeting was held under the presidentship of Dr Prafulla Baruah from Rochester Hills, Michigan. The programme started with the singing of the devotional song, Hey Joi Raghura Nandana, which Bhupenda used to sing at every cultural programme that he presented in the USA.
Following that, several members of the community shared their personal experiences with Bhupenda. The hosts, Ruma and Debojit Barua, shared many personal photographs of Bhupenda with their own family. Along with various interesting anecdotes, they also shared some of Bhupenda’s handwritten letters and notes, out of which a notable item was a Biya Naam that Bhupenda wrote and sang during their wedding.
Mridul Barua from Toronto, Canada recalled how he was auditioned and selected by Bhupenda to play a child artiste’s role in the film, Era Bator Xur. He also mentioned that after a long gap of 40 years when Bhupenda met him in USA, he immediately recognised him and called him by his name. Such was his memory when it came to people!
Dr Prafulla Baruah from Rochester Hills, Michigan, narrated his association with Bhupenda during the making of the same movie in Kolkata. He said that Bhupenda was very friendly with the Assamese students who visited the locations and the studio where the movie was being made and would engage them in preparing the titles and credits for the movie.
Istakur Rahman from Canton, Michigan and his sister Shahnaaz Rahman, visiting from Guwahati, talked about their close association with Bhupenda and the Hazarika family. They also talked about how Bhupen Hazarika used to be a regular visitor to their house as he was a friend of their uncle, Abdul Khalek and used to teach singing to their mother Shahzadi Begum (Anne) along with her close friend Sudakhsina Sarma, Bhupenda’s sister.
A younger member of the community, Chiranjit Bordoloi from Rochester Hills, Michigan, who is a musician himself, contrasted the musical aspects of Bhupenda’s songs with the modern techno music that is used by today’s singers and musicians. He stressed the need to preserve the original identity of Bhupenda’s songs and find means to ensure that his music lives on and is enjoyed by generations to come.
Another young member of the community, Jahnavi Mahanta from Ypsilanti, Michigan, who happens to be a great grand niece of Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha, recited a poem that she wrote and also mentioned that her grandmother, who was a music teacher, personally knew Bhupenda and that he learned some songs from her.
Partha Bora from Lansing Michigan recited Dr Amarjyoti Chaudhury’s poem, Mrityu Jinaar Gaan. Partha and his wife, Mompi were instrumental in organising this meeting in a very efficient manner in such a short time.
Dhon Bordoloi from Troy, Michigan, recounted how Bhupenda enjoyed lopha xakor tenga in their house during one of his visits to USA. From his childhood days, he recalled hearing an interesting comment from Bhupenda made during a visit to an ‘Okonir Mel’ programme at the Guwahati radio station in the 1960s. Explaining the meaning of his name to the children attending the session, Bhupenda said, “Bhu means prithivi (earth) and pen means kolom (pen in English). So, my name means the Pen of the Earth.”
Krishangi Kaushik, a seventh grader from Canton, Michigan sang "Kohua Bon Mur Oxanto Mon"; Manjula Baruah, from Rochester led the rendition of Osto aakaxore, xopun rohon xaani; Krishanu Kaushik led the singing of Aai tuk kihere pujime and all the attendees sang Bistinrno Parore and Manuhe Manuhor Baabe in chorus before ending the session with Buku Hom Hom Kore, at the end of which one of the attendees said with a heavy heart, “… today I realise for the first time what hom hom really means!”
The community also resolved to adopt the song Manuhe Manuhor Babe as their anthem, to sing it in each and every musical, cultural or literary session that is organised by them in the future and stand by the principles that are highlighted by the song.
A condolence card signed by all the attendees, a poem titled, Tumaar Kotharei Tumaloi Shraddhanajli, written by Krishanu Kaushik, and some photographs from the event have been sent with Shehnaz Rahman, to be hand delivered to the immediate family members of ‘beloved Bhupenda’, the greatest son of the soil of Assam, the e-mail added.