Assam- A Hidden Paradise of Culture
North-East India also said to be the paradise of our country is home to a variety of distinct cultures and folk traditions. The region is also home to renowned tribal culture with ethnic groups including people from various different religions and backgrounds. Northeast is also renowned for its climate, evergreen flora and fauna, its rivers and tributaries, enchanting folktales, and many places with pollution free and fresh breeze. The rural essence of the northeast is the main reason for it being called an unexplored paradise. In this blog, we will be talking about how Assam as one of the northeastern states, is a perfect example of India’s varied and prestigious folk culture and why you should visit Assam to witness its unique cultural richness. The entire region is a perfect blend of mystic glory, art forms, delicious food, and environment-friendly habitat. This blog will try to give its readers all the reasons why you should explore northeast India because of its high significance of folk traditions and culture. The word ‘Assam’ is derived from the word ‘asama’ meaning 'pearless', referring to now an extinct language. Assam is famous for its tea plantations all over the world. Assam is also known as the ‘land of red rivers and blue hills’. People of Assam are known as Axomiyas and the native language of the state is Axomiya or Assamese.
Experience the most scenic landscapes in Assam.
Art and art forms-
Art Forms- 1) Assam’s art and culture are a combination of different ethnic-culture groups. This art is a fusion of Indo Burmese, Mongolian and Aryan culture.
2) Assam is also rich in folk music largely influenced by its history of Ahom Dynasty and British rule. Classic music of Assam is divided into Ojapali and Borgeet which is a combination of narrative performance. Sattriya and Devdasi, the popular folk dances of Assam, derive their significance from the time of Mahabharata and Ramayana.
3) During the time of Bihu, folk dances are performed by both boys and girls, also accompanied by gagana, dholak, and flute. You can witness classic Bihu performances at Kamakhya Temple and at the garden houses of Albert Hall Museum.
4) Sattriya Nritya is the form of classical Assamese dance that is said to be prevalent since the 15th century. Sattriya Nritya is performed to depict various mythological tales. Tourists here also enjoy dances like Bagurumba which are performed in colorful clothes and beautiful hand formations. This tribal dance is also called the “butterfly effect” as hand movements in the dance resemble the movement of butterflies and birds. If you plan on visiting Assam, several streets and classic theatre performances are bound to impress you. Sattriya Nritya performances also take place at ‘Ankiya Naator Bhaona’.
Art- The state is also famous for its jewelry making and use of ruby and mina, terracotta work, cotton and silk spinning, and weaving. Woodcraft and instrument making are also quite famous factors about the state. A trip to Assam will bring you back with authentic silk, cotton, and handloom collection. Various paintings and manuscripts are also said to have originated from the place.
Witness various theatre and street performances in Assam.
Classic art miniatures of Assam
Myths and Religion- Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism are the religions mostly practiced in Assam. One of the oldest temples of Indian history known as Kamakhya Temple is situated in Assam. It serves as a religious pilgrimage to lakhs of tourists every year. If you are a fan of history and storytelling, tales of Kamakhya Temple are surely going to amuse you, one of the most famous tales being Lord Shiva’s tandava and dropping of ornaments by Parwati. Assam has a rich history of Buddhism since the time of King Kumara as well. During your visit to Assam, 12 historic temples are definitely going to amuse you. Visits to Asvakranta Temple, Sukreswar Temple, Bageswari Temple, and Devi Temple are surely recommended for your visit.
Kamakhya Temple is one of the most popular religious sites in Assam.
Food- Rice, fish, and chicken are widely eaten in Assam. Assamese version of fish curry called Machor Tenga is highly recommended. Baked fish with mustard served on leaf called Patot Diya is also a popular dish here. On your visit to Assam, Khar, the traditional appetizer is highly recommended for medicinal purposes related to stomach problems. Even, Gordan Ramsay came to India to try recipes of local food like Machor Tenga and fishcakes. He also learned the use of fresh spices like chilies and garlic. Spices in Assamese food are used directly in food in its fresh form instead of drying them up and then using them. For trying authentic food in Assam, you must visit Terra Mayaa Restaurant, Reboti Chat House, King Chilly, and Missing Kitchen.
Assamese Thali is a surely recommended authentic dish for your visit.
Lifestyle- 1) As Assam is famous for its handloom and handicraft industry, dresses made of handlooms called Mekhela Chador are worn by women. Assamese men wear dhoti-Ghamosa. During your tourist stay, dressing up in Assamese attire is highly recommended. If you are a culture enthusiast, visit during the traditional festival of Bihu.
2) Rongali Bihu is celebrated in the month of April to celebrate the onset of the sowing season. Then comes the Kangaali Bihu, celebrated in the month of October to celebrate the harvest season. In January, Magh Bihu is celebrated to celebrate the feasting season with bonfires. Assam caters to a large number of tourists during Bihu. Although, Bihu is a non-religious festival, folk music and dance performed by people is worth witnessing.
3) The state witnesses a huge portrayal of culture giving you a huge reason to be an audience. A great majority of Assam lives in the rural area whereas Guwahati and Dispur have undergone vast industrialization and urbanization. The state comprises a number of rivers, forests, and hilly terrain. Agriculture is widely practiced here, most of it being rice and tea plantations. Sericulture here makes Assam a major producer of silk. Muga silk produced here is famous worldwide.
Assam is famous for its handloom and handicraft industry.
Climate and Flora and Fauna-
1) Climate- Assam experiences both- cold and warm periods, with rainfall throughout the year. Monsoon comes around April and May, so the weather is characterized by high humidity which is not the ideal time to visit the place. The climate varies from region to region within the state, but overall, Assam is characterized by the huge amount of rainfalls and subtropical climate. Due to floods during September, the state government has implemented The State Action Plan to avoid inconvenience for residents of the state as well as for the tourists.
2) Flora- The flora of Assam is characterized as evergreen and the state is home to several rainforests sheltering Asian elephants, tigers, rhino, hoolock gibbons, and several birds. The state has dense rainforests with Sal and Agar’s trees used for commercial purposes. Erianthus and Giant Reed trees found near lakes in forests add to the beauty of the view and are spotted in abundance. If you plan on trekking in Assam, the woodland comprises- Dillenia Swamp Forest, Riparian Fringing Forests, and Assam Alluvial Plains. These tracks of forests are very scenic. Apart from the usual vegetation, Assam is also famous for its orchids. Kapou Phool, a flower typically found in the state, is known to the flower enthusiasts as the Foxtail Orchid.
3) Fauna- The Kaziranga National Park is one of the most popular attractions of Assam, is also home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros. The state is gifted with varieties of the fauna of Royal Bengal Tiger, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphin, Macaque, Wild Bear, Pygmy Hog, Golden Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, and many others. There is a wide variety of bird species as well such as- Bengal Florican, Great hornbills, King Vulture, Long-billed and spotted wren-babblers, Laughingthrush, etc. Several migratory birds are also spotted in the region. For wildlife enthusiasts, Assam is a perfect place to be.
Kapou Flower of Assam is eye candy for visitors.
Kaziranga National Park is one of the most visited places in Assam.
Assam’s beauty like the rest of the six sister states is unique but neglected. Assam is one of the richest states of India in terms of cultural diversity, wildlife, and natural vegetation. A trip to Assam will never leave you disappointed. There are many other aspects for which the state is recognized for such as Brahmaputra Cracker and other infrastructure projects built purposely to cater to tourism and experience the festivities of the state without inconvenience. Dibrugarh, the city of Assam, also known as the Tea city of India caters to the nationwide demand for tea. Cities of this state are not only emerging as adventure and cultural sites but also as the main industrial hubs of India. North East may have witnessed a lot of insurgencies and curfews in the past years but the region will always continue to show hospitality to all its tourists with the longest living traditions and cultural heritage. The place has given birth to several folk legends like Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika, Parvati Prasad Baruva, Utpalendu Choudhary, Nirmalendu Choudhary, Madhav Kandoli, Dr. Surya Kumar Bhuyan, Atmaram Sharma, Chandra Phukan, Mohim Borah, and many others. The fusion of different cultures in the state has what kept hundreds of years of cultural fabric alive. Assam has seen a number of cultures and traditions giving it a very vibrant and admiring history with people proud to celebrate their origin with their culture. You must visit Assam for an unforgettable experience of exploration of India's authentic art forms.