Assam is a land of an intermingling of culture, tradition, tribes, language, and cuisines. The tourism department has taken lots of initiative to bring forth that culture and tradition which is so unique and different, which is diverse yet united in spirit. With this view to celebrate the real essence and spirit of Assam under one roof, the Cultural and Sports department of Assam along with the tourism department organized the Rongali Festival in the month of January 2018 for three days from 19th to 21st.
Rongali Festival 2018, Guwahati- A photo Essay! #A2ZChallenge
The word “Rongali” itself tells us the main theme of the festival. The word Rongali comes from “Rongali Bihu” which is celebrated in the month of April to mark the beginning of the new year with loads of fun and amidst great festivities.
The Rongali Festival was a unique presentation of different cultures of Assam, where different ethnic groups of Assam performed their dance, drama, acting, and sports. There was a display of traditional hand-loom of Assam, hand-loom saris, Mekhela Chador, Dhokhna and many other hand-loom varieties having their roots in different tribes. There was an exhibition displaying handicraft, agricultural and food products, etc. There were various sports like trekking, boat race and other adventure sports conducted.
The venue for the Rongali festival in 2018 was Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, Guwahati, Assam, India located in Panjabari. Along with various traditional performances, Rongali also had musical concerts by famous artists from Assam and other parts of India. The main highlight was though to bring out the way of life, dance forms, a culture of the tribes of Assam- the Boro, Missing, Rabha, Karbi, Dimasa etc. A large food festival was organized and the main center of attraction was “PAKGHOR”- a typical kitchen of Assam. It showcased the different kinds of dishes specific to each tribe, I shall do a detailed post on that.
When I entered Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra on the second day of the event 20th January, I was amazed at the beautiful paintings displayed everywhere done by artist Santanu Hazarika. A watercolor painting workshop was also going on and I saw participants sitting with their colors and palette at various places under the tree, the lawn and some occupied the amphitheater and created wonders with their painting brush.
A stall showcased the famous masks of Majuli. Majuli, the smallest river island of the world also has some excellent artist and craftsman. The masks displayed are examples of their excellent craftsmanship.
Mask making is a common traditional craft in Majuli which is practiced mainly by the Bhakats for centuries. The Natun Chamaguri Sattra has worldwide fame in making exquisite masks. The masks are mainly made of clay, bamboo, cane, cloth, paper mache, etc. The masks are made of famous characters from Ramayana and stories of Sri Krishna – Brahma, Hansa, Ganesha, Garuda, Jatayu, ten-headed Ravana, Kumbhkarna, Taraka, Maricha, Subahu, Putana, Chakravat, Kaliya Naag, Bakasura, Aghasura, Dhenukasura, Batsasura, Hanuman, Jambuban, Baraha, Nar Simha etc. Although they don’t make masks for Rama, Krishna, and Lakshmana.
The art and craft, hand-loom and agriculture exhibition had a wide variety of items displayed like various organic manures, medicines, saplings, etc, furnitures made of cane and bamboo and many stalls that had multi-colored hand-loom Mekhela Chador the traditional dress of Assamese women.
The Food festival was spread across a wide area with multiple hotels and famous restaurants having opened their individual stalls. The main attraction was the “PAKGHOR” as I have mentioned that is coming up soon in a separate post. A food competition was also going on. I was almost hungry and wanted to devour upon the food displayed. It was indeed a great initiative on the part of the organizers to uphold the culture of Assam and giving the people of Assam such a wonderful platform. Many visitors and tourists from different parts of India visited to witness the Rongali festival, 2018.