The Assamese with a Nepali cap

Bhupen Hazarika, the voice that represented Assam, its people and its culture for over seven decades fell silent on Saturday. Millions in his home state are still mourning the eternal void created by his demise.

His death has also affected music lovers in neigbouring Nepal, a country whose people and culture, Hazarika loved dearly. The black Nepali cap which he wore for the past many decades and till his last breath is just one example of that close association.

“I wear the cap because I love its shape and also because I love Nepali people, their features and beauty,” he had mentioned in a television interview to an Assamese news channel. Hazarika said that though he had worn the trademark cap since early 70s, he doesn’t remember when exactly he started donning it.

“The black Nepali cap, which is his signature, he began wearing, he says, when his father died many years ago and someone in the neighbourhood gave him a topi to wear. The khukuri pin that adorns the topi is a gift from Hazarika’s friends and admirers in Nepal,” writes eminent writer Sanjoy Hazarika in a piece titled ‘Bard of the Brahmaputra’.

“Hazarika’s internationalism (or regionalism) goes further than his vocal chords as is evident when he talks of his special relationship with Nepalis. He was born in Tezpur, a town that has quite a significant number of them,” he adds further.

The association was not limited to the topi alone. Several of Hazarika’s songs have been translated to Nepali including the popular ‘Dola he dola’. While the original talks of a palanquin, in its Nepali avatar, the song (Doke he doke), translated by lyricist Hari Bhakta Katuwal, is about the bamboo basket carried on their backs by many in Nepal to transport belongings.

Hazarika also sang several duets with Anju Devi, a popular Nepali singer from Assam. Devi has adapted one of the maestro’s creations ‘Asom desor bagisare suwali’—I am girl from Assam’s tea gardens—to ‘Assam ki cheli hun ma Nepali’—I am a Nepali girl from Assam.

During a concert in Kathmandu two years ago, she enthralled the audience with immortal classics of Hazarika like ‘Buku hom hom kore’—the original Assamese version of ‘Dil hum hum kare’. No wonder every one among Assam’s 2.5 million Nepalis is feeling the loss of his passing away.

“The Nepali community of the state will never forget this legendary artiste who showed his sense of belonging to the community by wearing by wearing a black Nepali hat (topi) till his last breath,” says Madan Thapa, general secretary of Assam Nepali Sahitya Sabha is a press release mourning the legend’s death.

Newspapers in Kathmandu also carried news of Hazarika’s death prominently. But more than what appeared in print, it was humbling to meet many Nepalis in the past few days who love Hazarika, know his compositions and have been affected by his carefully-crafted words.


7 Responses to “The Assamese with a Nepali cap”
  1. Mohammed says:

    He was not born in Tezpur. He was born in Sadiya, a small town in eastern most corner of Assam. He grew up in Tezpur. He and his songs are also very popular in Bangladesh and west bengal.


  2. Yes he was born in Sadiya sub division of Tinsukia district in eastern most part of Assam


  3. हरीप्रसाद अर्याल says:

    nice websites


  4. So, do you mean to say that songs in other languages are not beautiful?


  5. And if you think that Hindi is the preferred language all over India, please go and see the situation in Bihar. There are three languages viz. Maithili, Magadhi and Bhojpuri which are regarded as dialects of Hindi when, in fact, a majority of people who speak those languages believe that they are different languages than Hindi.

    If you want to know the real situation of languages in India, please google the term “three-language rule in India”. It is this very rule which necessitates people from Hindi states to learn another language even if it is not listed in the Eighth Schedule in our constitution. But, the leaders in Hindi-speaking states are flouting this rule which was supported by Jawaharlal Nehru who thought that this will bring about national integration. So, it is not only the non-Hindi states which are at fault. Madam, taali kabhi ek haath se nahi bajti.


  6. sand says:

    I think its ppl of north who learn only hindi n nothin else, in south ppl know a minimum of 2 or 3 languages (othr than English).


  7. sand says:

    But Samskrita is not the mother of south Indian languages.


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