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  • Bhavya Kapoor

An Unexplored Culture of India

India is home to over a billion people, accommodating incredible cultural diversity between languages, geographic regions, religious traditions and social stratifications. Indian culture is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artefacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with ethno-linguistically diverse India.


Often, when the word ‘Indian Culture’ is referred to in lands outside India, the first thought that crosses most people’s mind is the rich Punjabi, Bengali or South Indian culture. Only a few can think about the stunning culture of North-East India.


The North-Eastern region is often labelled as the ‘Paradise of India’. The enthralling and vibrant states of the North-East house within themselves rich history, literature, culture and heritage. The Seven Sisters, i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and one brother state of Sikkim, have their own tales to tell. From jaw-dropping sceneries to astonishing rituals and traditions, North-East India is a place worth exploring.


Northeast is home to people of diverse religions. Residents of Assam are believers of Hindu, Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Sikh faith, with the majority being Hindu. However, Lower Assam has a Muslim majority because of a heavy illegal influx of Bangladeshi migrants. Hindu ethnic groups consist of Assamese, Koch, Rabha, Dimasas, Ahom, Suriya, Meitei, etc. Buddhist groups are mainly migrants from Tibetans, Tamang, etc. Christian ethnic tribes include Garos, Mizos, Nagas, etc.


Though the seven states are interdependent, their lifestyle differs widely based on region, caste, and tribe. People living in the mountainous regions lead a simple lifestyle full of hardships for daily living, with the tourism sector helping a lot in their livelihood. Hunting and fishing constitute the prime occupations in such areas, with agriculture also playing an important part of the northeastern lifestyle. People believe in living a simple lifestyle with high values and morals and are very warm and loving. Both women and men enjoy equal opportunities and status, and the concept of dowry is not prevalent in any of the communities of the region.


Northeast has been hosting several fairs and festivals since decades. Some traditional festivals that are hosted annually include the Bihu Festival, Nongkrem Dance Festival, Chapchar Kut, Wangala Festival, Kang China, etc. Bihu is a very important festival of Assam with Bohag Bihu being the most popular one celebrated in Assam. Different parts of the region celebrate this festival with much zeal and enthusiasm. Nongkrem dance festival is the way of celebrating the harvest by the Khasi tribe of the region. There are several music festivals such as NH 7 weekender, Ziro festival, etc that are hosted every year. The Northeast book fair is held every year in Assam while the state of Sikkim hosts an international flower show annually.


Northeast is home to various genres of music. Each community has its own rich heritage of folk music and dance. Some popular dance forms of the northeast include Bihu, Naga dance, Hajgiri, Nongkrem, Thang-ta, and Dhoi Cholom, etc. Some of the folk songs of the region are Bihu, Luko Geet, Tokari, Borgeet, Nongthang Leima, O Rhose, etc. The popular dance forms Sattriya from Assam and Manipuri from Manipur are classified under the list of classical dances of India.


Despite being unknown to several, the northeastern part of India is said to be the world’s most culturally diverse region. The region is inhabited by more than 200 tribes, who pridefully brag about their indigenous and authentic traditions. Some of the most popular tribes are the Bodo tribe, Adi tribe, Nishi Tribe, Bhutia tribe, Garo tribe and Kuki tribe to name a few. The Bodo tribe is considered to be the heroic tribe of Northeast India. The Adi tribe is chiefly found living in the hills of Arunachal with their own village council. Arunachal Pradesh is also home to the Nishi Tribe who have originated from the Indo-Mongoloid tribe. Nagaland’s major tribe is the Angami tribe. The Bhutia tribe which inhabit Sikkim is believed to have migrated from Tibet. They are one of the most developed and cultured tribes of the region.


North-East India is truly an unexplored slice of paradise, with enchanting frontiers and a very rich culture. It is time the culture of this heaven on earth is explored and presented in front of the world in the same manner the other cultures of India are.


Bibliography:

1. n.a. “Culture of North East India” TravelogyIndia. n.d. Web. 12 Nov, 2022. <https://www.travelogyindia.com/north-east-india/culture.html>



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