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Bihu in the Bay of Bengal

- Scholar flaunts gamosa under water
Vikramjit Kakati with the gamosa under the Bay of Bengal. Picture by Naveen Kumar

Jorhat, April 18: US astronaut and Assam’s son-in-law, Mike Fincke, had taken the gamosa to space. Now, Vikramjit Kakati, a research scholar at IIT Guwahati, has taken the traditional Assamese towel 60 feet under the Bay of Bengal to celebrate Bihu under water.

Kakati, who is also a chartered engineer, celebrated Bohag Bihu off the coast of Havelock Island in the Andamans with his friends this year.

“My friends and I had gone there to take part in a workshop on underwater photography and since it was Bihu, we celebrated the festival deep under the sea,” Kakati told The Telegraph today.

Kakati and his friends carried the gamosa about 60 feet under water and waved the cultural symbol of the Assamese people. “It was a memorable moment and a unique celebration of Bihu,” he said.

Fincke had taken a gamosa to space during his mission in 2007, which he presented to IIT Kharagpur during a visit to the elite institute later that year. His father-in-law, Rupesh C. Saikia, had accompanied him to the institute.

Fincke had married Renita — a NASA engineer whose parents Rupesh and Probha Saikia hail from Assam.

Kakati said he and his friends took turns in diving with the gamocha and they photographed the Bihu celebration.

The group left for Havelock Island on April 12 via Calcutta. “It’s a two-and-a-half hour journey by ship from Port Blair to the island, which is world famous for its coral reefs,” he said.

Havelock Island, with an area of 113.93 sq km, is the largest of the chain of islands of the Andaman, which is located about 57km north-east of the capital city, Port Blair, and has a population of just over 5,000.

The island is named after a British general and is one of the few places where the administration has permitted and encouraged development of tourism, with a focus on promoting eco-tourism.

Kakati said there were several courses in open-water photography and scuba diving at Havelock Island and the Scuba Schools International (SSI) there had been doing a great job.

“For more than 40 years, SSI has been providing training on scuba-diving certification, and educational resources for divers, dive-instructors, dive-centres and resorts around the world and our youths could easily take up a course in this particular school and get jobs around the world,” he said.

Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to include more than 30 service centres and is represented in more than 110 countries with materials printed in more than 30 languages.

“SSI is clearly the name to trust in the diving world, and its success is attributed to the uncompromising standards and focused methodology,” Kakati said.

Kakati and his friends had gone to Havelock Island in a personal capacity and had taken up the one-day course on scuba diving and underwater photography.

“There are long-term courses, for less that Rs 1 lakh, that youths from Assam and the Northeast could easily take. This, I am sure, would be a great career option,” he said.

Kakati has appealed to youths of Assam to refer to the following links: http://www.padi.com/scuba/scuba-diving-guide/teach-scuba-diving/go-pro-scuba-diving-careers/ and https://www.divessi.com/ -- which might help them to go for a career on scuba diving.