Rongali paves the way for adventure sports in Assam (Review)

Guwahati, Feb 1 (IANS) Getting a spectacular view of the northeastern city from the top sans wings is possible! The second edition of Rongali — Destination, Culture, Harmony, a festival of Assam, gave an opportunity to its attendees to get a taste of adventure sports and much more.

The three-day fest, held at different venues – Sonaram field, Brahmaputra beach front, and Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok – concluded on Sunday here with thousands of music lovers dancing away to Goa-based DJ Nucleya’s foot-tapping tracks.
Music as varied as rap, classical, rock, EDM and Bollywood was the key element of the festival, but it was activities like para-sailing and para-motoring that grabbed many eyeballs.
“Very less people turned up for aero sports on the first day. They had the fear of falling off or meeting with an accident. But on the second day, we got a good crowd. The third day, it was even better. Thousands of people lined up for their turn to fly,” Shyamkanu Mahanta, the chief organiser of Rongali, told IANS.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere for adventure sports and we were successful in doing so. Everyone is talking about it. This will really help to boost Assam tourism. The last edition of the fest was more of a cultural show and this time the focus was on sports too,” he added.
Popular singer-actor Zubeen Garg launched the first flight on the fest’s opening day on Friday. He flew over the Brahmaputra river for about half an hour.
“It was a lot of fun. I love doing adventurous things. If you promote such activities nicely, I am sure Assam can be an adventure sports destination. Assam has the potential,” Zubeen told IANS.
While a lot of people, including children under the age of 10, were seen para-sailing, there were others who simply stood there to watch others taking the joyride that cost Rs.700 for para-sailing and Rs.2,500 for paramotoring.
One of the spectators, a driver, said it was too expensive for him. Nevertheless, the sight of people flying around was exciting enough for him. “I’ve never seen anything like this before in Assam,” he said.
Hemraj Bora, general secretary of Aerosports Association of Assam, said his team was invited to Rongali to promote aero sports to attract tourists.
“We have been doing it for a few years in Panikhaiti, but we saw this festival as a chance to make it large. Not many people know about our work. This festival gave us an opportunity to popularise it among the people here. Once our own people get familiar with it, and if the government shows support, I am sure there will be an influx of tourists in Assam,” he said.
The other major attraction of the festival was music. The attendees not only saw performances of their loved home-grown talents like Zubeen Garg and Papon, but also saw the renowned sarod player Amjad Ali Khan strumming the stringed instrument along with his sons Ayaan and Amaan.
Rapper Borkung Hrangkhawl, who hails from Tripura, regaled with songs that highlighted many issues including racism faced by the people of northeast. Delhi-based rock band Parikrama also gave a high-octane performance.
Food stalls, which offered a mix of traditional, Chinese and South Indian cuisines, also caught the attention of many attendees at the fest, where handicraft and agricultural products were also showcased. Designers like Dhiraj Deka and Yana Ngoba presented their works inspired by the region.
Though most of the crowd belonged to Assam, it was difficult for the outsiders to understand some of the plays and songs or even speech as the Assamese language was used too often.
“We need to satisfy our stakeholders too. We can just speak in English or Hindi. That’s why there was a need to speak in Assamese,” said Mahanta.
On the whole, the festival was a success in familiarising the tourists with the culture of Assam.
The plans for the next edition of the fest are big.
The organiser said that he plans to do the next edition for seven days at the Brahmaputra beach front.
(The writer’s visit has been sponsored by the festival’s organisers. Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at [email protected])