If you think only the winners of reality shows on television walk away with the riches, think again. The Bihu danseuses of Asom too are rewarded in cash and other prizes that could give the big television show winners a close competition if one were to compare the size and expenditure on such programmes.
The stage programmes held during the Rongali Bihu functions in April, every year celebrating Assamese New Year, organise Bihu dance competitions crowning the best teams, Bihu Kuwari/Rani (best female dancers) and
(traditional drummers). These functions have developed into multi-million programmes over the years.
The most elite of such functions, which are open for all and pull crowds by hundreds, have budgets ranging from Rs three lakh to Rs nine lakh. The budget might be considered a lot of money in Asom, but if one compared it with the amount the winners of the competitions get, it would sound paltry, especially the amount won by the danseuses.
Besides the cash prizes which range from Rs 5,000 upward, the winners get gifts, the value of which adds up to several thousands. In the competition among various function organisers to attract the best dancers and teams, the prize money has skyrocketed with the new organisers doling out huge amount of prize money.
The competition circle this year is abuzz with reports that a Bihu dance competition organiser in Lakhimpur in Upper Asom would announce a prize of Rs three lakh for the best dancer. The competition is due later in the month, and though no confirmation has been received, there is ample scope to believe in the reports.
While Rs 1.5 lakh would be given in cash, a car of equal value would make up the rest of the prize. Of course, other smaller gift hampers would also be there. Another Bihu competition organiser in the oil town of Duliajan, also in Upper Asom, is reported to have announced Rs one lakh cash for the best dancer.