April 18: Rain did not play spoilsport for Bihu functions here last night.
At the Latasil playground, Bihu dancers poured out their best to grab Assam’s highest Bihu dancer honour Bihu Xomragyi (Bihu empress).
At midnight, going by the performances of seven competitors who came from across the state, the judges of the Guwahati Bihu Sanmilan selected Nilakshi Borgohain from Bamunimaidam as Bihu Xomragyi of this year. She was offered a job at Namecare Hospital, Rs 20,000 in cash and a few household items like a refrigerator, washing machine and a TV.
Barsha Gogoi was selected Bihu Rani (Bihu queen) and Rajashree Gayan as Bihu Kuwori (Bihu princess) of this year. Nilakshi, in her mid twenties, is originally from Charing in Sivasagar. She was brought up in the city, studied at Disneyland High School (now Sudarshan High School) and Cotton College.
Nilakshi, herself a dance teacher, has the experience of imparting Bihu training to children for several years.
“I am so happy. It became possible because of my instructor-cum-fiancÚ Pranjal Gandhiya. He guided me. I danced the way he choreographed and instructed me. My parents also always encouraged me,” said a jubilant Nilakshi, a teacher in Luit Academy at Bamunimaidam.
In 2006, Nilakshi was selected Bihu Rani by Guwahati Bihu Sanmilan. Besides, she won some honours like Asom Bordoisila, Bihu Kuwori and Shresta Bor Bohuwoti at different Bihu functions in different parts of the state.
“Earlier, Bihu was celebrated in the fields. Now, it has come to the stage. There are certain limitations while one performs on a stage; she is not as free as in the fields,” Nilakshi said.
She said she had learnt Bharatanatyam for several years from Indira P.P. Bora since she was a student of Class III but till 2005 she did not have much idea of Bihu.
As Bihu Xomragyi is the highest honour for a Bihu dancer, only a Bihu Rani, a status second to Bihu Xomragyi, can compete for it. Once one becomes Bihu Xomragyi she is not allowed to take part in any competition.
On the other hand, opinions of the judges have raised a question about whether the Bihu Xomragyi title still bears its glory as it did earlier.
A judge of the competition, Guluk Moran, said the number of competitors was not satisfactory (only seven). He also found that the original elements of Bihu were missing in the dances of the competitors. “The number of competitors was less. The standard of the competition was not as expected,” he said.
“I hoped the original elements of the Bihu dances will be represented in the performances of the competitors. It, however, did not happen. The competitors learnt to dance in workshops ,” Moran said. He added that Bihu and Bihu competitions are now confined to the middle class.
Barsha Gogoi, who hails from Sivasagar district and was selected Bihu Rani this year, said participating at the Latasil playground was a dream for her. “In future, I will participate at the Bihu Xomragyi competition too,” Barsha said.