An Isle of Feasts – Majuli, Assam
In March 2014, during my trip home to Assam, I travelled to India’s largest river island, Majuli. Luckily, my trip coincided with the celebration of one of Mishing community’s local festivals called Porag. Attending the festival and spending time with the locals was a great way of learning about their cultures, traditions and way of life. The experience and their hospitality was overwhelming – I lived only a few hundred kilometers away and yet, knew nothing about the island other than the news of floods that floated around every year.
Back in Mumbai, I spent weeks writing about my experience and all that I learnt and saw for a piece for Mint Lounge. The story was published (in the last week of September 2014 ) as a centre spread in their special travel issue which was themed around water fronts. The issue carried some great stories by some experienced writers, and it was extremely emotional to find my words among them. Clearly, I haven’t stopped gushing about it.
You could read the full piece on Livemint.com here: An Isle of Feasts
Or see what the print version looked like here: An Isle of Feasts
Below is an excerpt:
“I drove from Dibrugarh past makeshift markets, small towns and tea gardens to the boat jetty at Neematighat in Jorhat district, where I boarded a ferry. On the 20km-trip across the Brahmaputra, we drifted past deserted sandy banks as the sun reflected off the river’s silvery surface. For the first time, I wasn’t merely admiring the perennial river from a distance.
An hour later, I got off at Kamalabari Ghat in Majuli. But before I could savour the delight of finally arriving at a long-anticipated destination, I was hustled into one of the many shared Jeeps, which screeched across the long stretch of white sand, a cloud of dust blurring my vision.
Within 5 minutes, however, the island looked anything but deserted and sandy. Paddy fields lay interspersed with water bodies, dotted by migratory birds. Men in dhotis cycled to and from the markets, chickens dangling from their handlebars. Fishermen were lugging nets bulging with fish. Muffled songs came floating over a distant loudspeaker. In response to my puzzled look, the driver said that I had arrived in the middle of a festival week.”