What is ‘Assam Bandh’?
This is a kind of holidays , which are well signified in Assam. These holidays give sudden visits, without coming according to the calender, with maximum frequency in a year.
The biggest festival of Assam is Bihu…..which comes thrice in a year…. But Assam Bandh comes at least 10-15 times a year. It is a day for celebration for some, and a time for relaxation for others.
I visit Assam once or twice in a year, and this is a record, that I never missed an Assam Bandh during my visit. Lucky me! But, sometimes it becomes troublesome too.
Last year, I went to Assam for 20 days. I stayed couple of days at my in –Laws’s place and then went to my maternal place –Jorhat to stay few days there. My mom informed me beforehand that we would have to visit Grand-ma’s place at Sibsagarh to attend a family Puja, the very next day we would reach Jorhat.
We reached Jorhat at 8 pm as we drove from Guwahati to Jorhat, enjoying the natural beauty of Assam all the way. Reaching Jorhat, I called up my sister who used to stay in Agriculture University hostel, to ask her if she could accompany us. She replied me in a shocking way…. “How come will u go to Sibsagarh…? …Tomorrow is Saka (Wheel) Bandh!” We were not aware of that as no newspaper, we read, carried the news. The bandh was declared by Bodo student union.
We got worried. What to do now?
Bodo population is extremely thin in upper Assam. And, we did not want to miss the Puja at Grand ma’s place. We decided to start our voyage…became ready to face all the troubles, all the way to Sibsagarh. My Dad said that he would not accompany and wanted to take rest at home for the day. So, my mom, me and my son, my husband and my maid were the travelers.
Next day morning, at around 9am, while we were supposed to start our journey, we suddenly realized that we did not have enough petrol to drive whole the way. It was around 80 kms from Jorhat to our destination. In fact, we checked Dad’s car also, but it also had not enough petrol.
Thinking that may be some petrol pump would be open on the way, taking some risk, we started our journey. Checked all the Petrol pumps on the way…..all were closed. Roads were completely empty. We drove fast.
Suddenly after crossing around 20 kms, we saw two/three people sitting with 10/15 bottles with some raddish water….. They were sitting just opposite side of a closed Petrol Pump in the national high way. Oh…….those bottles were full of petrol! ……My husband immediately stopped the car….and went almost running as if he had got some diamonds!!!
I observed him from inside the car and could see the vivid transformation of his face from a tensed red face into a bright one. He bargained…and bought 10 bottles in four times higher than the petrol price. We were happy! And the sellers too…! Some good feelings also flowed out from our hearts for those people though we were in lose.
So, we reached Grand ma’s place… all uncles, aunties, relatives – all were present in the Puja, despite it was a working day – ‘Wednesday’. All were relaxed…..as it was public holiday – called ‘Assam Bandh’!