A new dimension to tribal culture

Tribal women perform jhumur
Cultural performances in Assam’s tea gardens and among the tea community have always revolved around their traditional jhumur, a group dance performed by young men and women to the beat of the madol (drum).
The tea tribes, who were bought as labourers, mostly from central India and eastern India during the British Raj, had formed an identity of their own.
Although many organisations had been claiming that they were working for the assimilation of tea tribes with the greater Assamese society, very few practical steps were visible in this regard till date.
In a bid to take an inch in this direction, a cultural evening of classical music was organised by the management of Dikom Tea Estate last week at the staff club of the garden in Dibrugarh district.
The teachers and students of Chaulkhowa Music College — an institution for education of classical music in Dibrugarh — performed different programmes like borgeet, sitar recital, Kathak and Sattriya.
“Our basic aim is to create a platform on which we could see people from the tea community getting specially attracted to our rich culture, like the Sattriya dance as they should know what it is all about. Some of the youths of the garden had now approached us to organise more such programmes in the future”, Bhaskar Phukon, an assistant manager of the garden, said.
Dilip Ranjan Borthakur, the principal of the music college, said, “This is indeed a very good step; this kind of a programme can really help us in spreading our own rich culture.

Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih and
(below) the cover of the book
Prasanta Bhagawati and several others like him had become tea planters by default. After hundreds of monkeys descended on their paddy fields and started destroying standing crops, tea emerged as the only alternative. That was in the nineties.
This year, 100-odd small tea growers in the Naduwar area of Sonitpur district have set a record by producing 12 lakh kg of green leaf, the highest production by small tea growers in any area of the state.
“Our tea bushes are new. As such, the drought did not have much impact on them,” said Bhagawati, the secretary of Naduwar unit of small tea growers’ association.
He revealed that monkeys from the nearby hills had swamped the entire Naduwar area and wreaked havoc on the farmlands. “The menace went out of control in the early 1990s,” Bhagawati added.
However, it was Arshaf Nasir who found the answer to the problem. He took to tea plantation since the simians were not attracted to the tea. Since Nasir started the first tea estate — North Tupia — in 1992, there was no looking back.
Today, there are over 100 small tea growers in the area and all doing good business.
The monkeys, too, have returned to the hills since then.
From Japan, the land of cherry blossoms, haiku, a poetic form, has found a new language in the abode of the clouds, Meghalaya.
Renowned Khasi poet Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih has come up with the first compilation of haiku in Khasi, bringing to the state the delightful style of Japanese poetry famous the world over.
The first ever book of haiku in Khasi language was released by the president of the Khasi Authors’ Society, Prof. S.S. Majaw.
Prof. Majaw lauded the achievement, saying he had made an invaluable contribution to Khasi literature by introducing a new genre into it.
He said that such “a supervention of novelty” was the most needed thing in Khasi literature at the moment in order to inject freshness and vigour into it.
Nongkynrih said that haiku as a poetic form had originated in Japan and became well established in that country in the 16th century.
Its traditional form is always that of a poem of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.
“Haiku contains two parts. The first part is called the setting, which could be a location, an occasion, the weather, the time of day, a set of circumstances and some kind of action. The second part is the body, containing haiku’s main image, which relates to its subject and action,” he said.
“Haiku encourages us to appreciate the little, neglected, irrelevant things we routinely edit out of our busy lives and accords the same importance to the smallest object and event as we would give to a human being,” he added.