Sourav “Teddy” Biswas
Between the banks of The Brahmaputra River lies the world’s largest river island, Majuli Island. Located in the north eastern state of Assam, Majuli is a 421 sq.kms of majestic scenic beauty and vibrant natural colors. Every monsoon, the roaring waters of Brahmaputra swallows pieces of this island and destroys many homes. Yet this island never ceases to mesmerize tourists from around the globe to the art, music, dance, religion and astrology that thrive together till date. There’s no extravagance about the cultures that exist here, but the very simplicity makes it so special.
The population is around 1.4 Lakhs, comprising basically of tribal people. One of the main attractions is the house that these people have built on the island. Due to heavy rainfall every year, houses are built with bamboos placed on concrete pillars. Amazingly some of these bamboo homes are available for tourists to avail as hotel rooms.
Life here is very simple. The island is a home to a mixture of communities; the Mishing Tribe, the Deoris, the Sonowal Kacharis, and the Ahoms. The inhabitants are hospitable and always happy to welcome travelers. Mishing tribals, in particular, like to invite visitors into their homes for a bowl of freshly prepared apong or rice beer. A number of big and small festivals are celebrated in Majuli. During these festivals the locals offer cooked food and dress up in their traditional attire and perform local dances and play local instruments. The Raas Mahotsav in autumn is also a great time to observe the traditional chanting, dances and drama recitations held in Majuli to celebrate the birth, life and feats of Krishna.
Majuli is very famous for its mask making and pottery. Masks are an important part of the heritage. The main occupation of the population is agriculture where crops like rice, potato and cabbage are grown. Weaving is also practiced as an occupation. Visitors can witness the fine art of local craftsmen and utilization of natural abundance, while exploring these villages.
The wetland here is a hotspot of flora and fauna. Several species of endemic and migratory birds find their home on the island. They flock in huge numbers to the riverine fishes and edible aquatic species. The calmness of this place allows the bird to flutter among the grazing cattle around and frolic on the island. Several bird-watching tours to beels (lakes in Assamese) are conducted by friendly locals for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers.
With the incessant erosion of the river water and excessive rainfall due climate change is gradually robbing Majuli its exquisiteness. According to reports, in 1853, the total area of Mājuli was 1,150 km2 and about 33% of this landmass has been eroded in the latter half of 20th century. Since 1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. Surveys show that in 15–20 years from now, this land-piece would cease to exist.
The charm and loveliness of this place makes it ideal for nature lovers to explore and visit this place. From tradition craftsmanship, simplicity of life here to natural beauty, this place provides a perfect place to enjoy mother Earth with a taste of tribal and pristine India.