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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

North East India


Jointly called the seven sisters and one big brother, even most graduates in India would have difficulty naming these states – which is a complete shame!

Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Sikkim, Manipur and Assam.  Separated from the large Indian land mass by Bangladesh and connected by a thin strip of land.


Remotely located, they are not en-route to anywhere else, so the large mass of Indian travellers do not have an opportunity to accidentally get familiar with these states. To get to know them, the traveller must set out to go there with purpose.

Other states in India receive their fair share of attention from the common man, either through their people or their products. But the North East states remain an unfamiliar mystery to the extent that I would not be able to distinguish angami from the foreign language myanmarese. I have no idea what the best foods from Assam or Mizoram are….and that is quite a tragedy!

I am just beginning to find out more about the exotic North East India. Here are some of the new fascinating things I have learnt recently:

1. That most states need a special permit for travel – even for Indians!

2. That every state has a distinct annual seasonal cycle and so a visit to the ‘north east’ is impossible to plan collectively. Each state needs to be singled out and understood before planning such a trip.

3. Each state is home to numerous varied tribes. For tribophiles each state is a potential feast – the costumes, the weavings, the crafts, the dance, the music, the lifestyles….the wealth that is waiting to be experienced is infinite.

4. India has a span that covers 25 longitude degrees – from Jamnagar at 70 degrees to Dibrugarh at 95 degrees. Yet there is a unified time zone, that has been set to match sunrise / sunset of central India. Therefore when the sun rises in Delhi, the time is set to approximately 7am, but in Dibrugarh in the extreme East, the sun has already been around for s few hours by then, which takes the sunrise time to 5 am! And conversely, therefore, the day ends early with the clock showing just 5 pm at sunset. A different paradigm. People who have always lived there are used to this. But a traveller, particularly sleepy ones such as myself, will need to go through mental-strength training exercise to wake up at 5am, day after day after day. The thought is scary.

5. When I met people from these states at cultural fairs, they are easily among the sweetest and gentlest groups I have come across. Maybe the serene beauty of their landscapes is imbibed into their soul.

The area is filled with the mystique of a whole spectrum of exotic cultures and an intricate history of kingdoms won and lost.

Some day soon I hope to explore this area, one state at a time, if life and time will permit me the luxury!

“There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done” – The Circle of Life -The Lion King.

jm

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This entry was posted on November 16, 2010 by in Culture Kaleidoscope and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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