The Telegraph
Saturday , March 18 , 2017

Assam takes river festival spirit to Calcutta

- Government officials organise Namami Brahmaputra show on a cruise on the Ganga

The Brahmaputra in Guwahati

Calcutta, March 17: The Assam government is planning to showcase the Brahmaputra as an icon of the state with Namami Brahmaputra, the aim being to make it the biggest river festival in the country.

In this regard, senior state government officials today organised a show on the Vivada cruise on the Ganga here to announce the flagging off of the inaugural edition of Namami Brahmaputra, which they claimed will be the "the biggest river festival ever in India". The glitz is set to become bigger with the imminent release of a song sung by Amitabh Bachchan exclusively for the occasion.

"Brahmaputra is part of our soul, culture and daily life. It's high time that we celebrate the river. So far, we have only talked about the rhino in relation to Assam, which is important. But the Brahmaputra is no less iconic when it comes to influencing the length and breadth of the state," said Bharat Bhusan Deb Choudhury, director of inland waterways transport, Assam.

This is a part of the many road shows the Assam government has organised in major cities like Mumbai, Lucknow or Ahmedabad recently, which have sizeable population of Assamese people. According to the officials, apart from representations from various states, the Assam government is expecting participation from countries like China, Vietnam and Cambodia as well.

Goutam Barua, an Assamese writer based in Calcutta, also highlighted the link of the Brahmaputra with the cultural history of Assam.

The festival, which will begin on March 31 and continue till April 4, will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee in Guwahati at the riverfront near Kamakhya temple. "Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal is the driving force behind the mega event which will simultaneously take place in 21 districts, which are on the banks of the Brahmaputra. The festival will cover the entire stretch of the river from Sadiya to Dhubri," Deb Choudhury said.

Another official said the festival, which has a budget of Rs 15 crore, will target three sectors - trade, transport and tea. "The event will have a range of activities from indigenous sports to business meets, exhibition of organic tea to film festivals, Bihu and other cultural programmes, showcasing of handicrafts, indigenous art and tourism," he said.

"It's a welcome step and we expect the event to give a great fillip to the tourism sector in Assam. Globally, river tourism has often turned into a hotspot and we expect the same for Brahmaputra," said a tour operator who covers Assam regularly.

"We expect the event to cater to the business sector, particularly to turn the National Waterways 2 and 16 as the drivers of economic development," said Deb Choudhury.

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