Fresh starts. Thanks to the calendar, they happen every year. Just set your watch to January and you have the chance to put the problems of last year to bed. But who gets to determine when the old ends, and the new begins? It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, and certainly not a new year. It’s an event. Big or small. Something that changes us. Ideally, it gives us hope. A new way of living and looking at the world. Letting go of old habits, old memories. What’s important is that we should never stop believing we can have a new beginning. And that amid all the pain and hardships there are a few things really worth holding on to. With a message this strong and alive came ” Rongali.”
It was year 2004. I was a participant at the Mrs.India World pageant. Our first encounter with the esteemed judges and we were asked to introduce ourselves individually. My introduction was followed by astonishing reactions, hushed voices, empathised attitudes. It was not hard to understand that my fellow participants as well as the judges had limited knowledge of my state. What was more upsetting was the fact that whatever limited knowledge they had were all dark and negative. My land was known for all the otherwise reasons. That was 2004. And nothing much has changed.
Which is why we need events like ” Rongali ” that projects our state on the national and global arena as a colorful and beautiful place with happy communities who know how to live life, who despite a bitter past and all the bloodshed has chosen to embrace hope. We are communities who dare to dream. Our sun has been dotted out by clouds of toxic dust innumerable times. But despite the long history of sporadic violence, we have always picked ourselves up by our bootstraps and marched off to work because we as a community know and believe that there are a few things really worth believing in. Because at some point, we all have to choose. Do we fall back on what we know? Or, do we step forward, to something new? It’s hard not to be haunted by our past. Our history is what shapes us, what guides us. Our history resurfaces. Time, after time, after time. So we have to remember that sometimes, the most important history, is the history we’re making today. And this is the underlying current of Rongali, hailed as the biggest festival of Assam. It ushers a letting go of old habits, old memories. It marks the dawn of positivity, togetherness, prosperity and brotherhood.
Rongali’s message is loud and clear. Eventually at some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy. That’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here’s what I know: If you’re willing to take the chance, the view from the other side is spectacular. We are simple, happy people. Come to our region. We welcome you with open arms.
I am a daughter of my soil and i am filled with so much gratitude for my land here and now, for recognizing what I have for what it is. For appreciating my small victories. For admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we’re all thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing… is reason enough to celebrate.
Finally, I’m not in favor of blind or false pride. That kind of disillusion is never useful. No one is perfect. Be critical of your motherland, just like you are of your parents. But if you find something that you admire, that you believe in and care about and feel strongly for, then be proud of it. Why not?