Browse Author: northeast

Importance of Christmas Trees

For thousands of years, the evergreen fir tree has been a part of both Pagan and Christian winter celebrations. Pagans decorated their homes with pine branches during the winter solstice, the Romans used fir trees to deck out their temples for the festival of Saturn, and Christians used pine trees as a symbol of eternal life with their Savior.

Christmas Tree

Germany Started the Tree Tradition
The Christmas tree tradition that we know today began in the 16th century in Germany when Christians brought decorated pine trees into their homes. Some Germans built wooden Christmas pyramids and then decorated them with candles and evergreen branches. It’s believed that Martin Luther was the first person to add lighted candles to a tree.

The first Christmas trees came to the United Kingdom in the 1830s. They gained massive popularity in 1841 after Prince Albert had a Christmas tree displayed in Windsor Castle. In 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of “The Queen’s Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle.” In December 1850, Godey’s Lady’s Book in Philadelphia republished the drawing, although they took out Prince Albert’s mustache and the Queen’s crown to make the illustration look more American.

Americans Welcomed It in the 19th Century
As many 19th century Americans found Christmas trees to be an odd practice, they were one of the last Christian populations to adopt the tradition. Most likely the tradition came to the United States during the American Revolution with Hessian troops or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania. However, the country didn’t take to the idea until the mid 19th century. By 1900, 20% of American families had Christmas trees. However, by 1920 the concept had become widespread.

During the Victorian era, most trees were decorated with candles, which represented stars. Many areas of Europe still decorate their trees with candles. Tinsel originated in Germany, where it was first created from thin beaten silver strips.

Different Shades of Dussehra Around the Globe

India is becoming a ‘Land of Festivals’ that has several cultures have, over the centuries, made India a land of everlasting festivals. Every small occasion, from welcoming the spring or rain or the harvesting of crops, to seeing the full moon lends itself to joyous celebrations splashed with colours, music, folk dances and songs. Known with different names like, ‘Vijayadashami’, or ‘Dasara’ or ‘Dashain’ or ‘Durgotsav’ or Tenth day of holy Navratri, ‘Dussehra’ is amongst the most significant Hindu festival celebrated across India and other countries like, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Dussehra is celebrated by different ways in different part of India. Here, we have mentioned some of the important regions:

Northern India

In major northern states like, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and western Bihar, it is famous tradition to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dasara, the nine-day-old sprouts are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears. Besides the Navratri Pujan and fasts, Dussehra is celebrated more in honour of Lord Rama. During these 10 days, plays and dramas – “Ramlila” is performed based on different chapters of Ramayana. Also, there are outdoor fairs organized and on the day the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad are burnt to conclude the celebrations.

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasara festival starts with unique performance of Ramlila based on the musical rendering of the katha (or story) of Lord Rama. This style of Ramlila is based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar during his stay in Almora, which were later enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Renowned as the Almora or Kumaon style, Ramlila has been recognized by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila across India.

In the state of Himachal Pradesh, the Kullu Dussehra is a famous International Mega Dussehra festival, which is observed during the month of October. In this mega celebration, over 4-5 Lac people visits the fair from all across the globe. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan of Kullu valley. It commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day itself and continues for seven days. The history related to 17th century, when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this practice, Lord Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. This International festival of Kullu Dussehra allures tourists from across the globe. Enjoy the traditional folk music and dance during the fair. Shop for authentic handicrafts, especially the traditional Pattu patterned shawl or cap. You can also enjoy your stay in the beautiful valley of Himachal and further move to Manali as excursion.

Southern India

Vijayadashami or Dussehra is celebrated in various ways in different regions of South India. This day is observed to express gratitude to everything which brings success in life. Celebrations take many forms, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful toys-, celebrated as Golu in Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu from Navratri onwards. The concluding event in Andhra Pradesh, the Theppotsavam (boat festival) is a striking event held on Vijaya Dasami at Krishna – Thungabhadra Sangamam.

On Vijaydashami day, the conclusion of a colorful 10-day celebration of the Mysore Dasara, the goddess Chamundeshwari is worshiped and then borne in a grand procession on a Golden Ambari (or elephant-mounted throne) across the city of Mysore, right from the historical Mysore Palace to the Dasara parade ground. Don’t forget to catch up the view of delightful Mysore Palace decorated with over 100,000 lights decorate.

 

 

Unique Celebration of Dussehra

 

Dussehra in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, similar to Bengal, it is a five-day-long festival and celebrated in different mandaps (congregation) containing Maa Durga’s clay statues. The largest festival is celebrated at Dhakeshwari temple and Ramakrishna missionary in the country’s capital, Dhaka. On the day of Vijayadashmi (Dussehra), clay statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in rivers. The pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are added to the river to help the water yield better crops.

Festivals of Indian Villages

Indian Villages celebrate some of the unique festivals that reflect the rural charm and simplicity of the Indian people. The villages of the Indian states are special for their distinguished fairs and festivals, however, festivals like Republic Day, Diwali, Gandhi Jayanti, Id-ul- Fitr, Independence Day and Janmastami are celebrated nationwide. Besides the religious festivals cultural ones are also predominant in the Indian villages.
Indian Village Festivals The Indian Village festivals according to the location of the villages are as follows –
North India Village Festivals – North India comprises the villages of Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The composite culture and the festivals of North India are closely associated with the Himalayas and sacred rivers, passing across the states. Most of the festivals celebrated in these villages are common and similar in their themes. Karva Chauth, Vasant Panchami, Diwali, Lohri, Buddha Purnima, Kheer Bhawani are the commonly celebrated all across northern India.
East India Village Festivals – East Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa comprise the villages in this region.

Cuisine plays a vital role in the eastern Indian festivals. An important feature of the festivals here is that these are diverse. While the most popular festivals celebrated in the villages of West Bengal are the Durga Puja and Kali Puja, Ratha Yatra is celebrated with lot of fervour in Orissa. The typical rural festivals of eastern India are Jatra Festival, Jhoolan, Poush Mela and Vasanta Utsav. Cultural festivals are also an important part of the East Indian village festivals.

North-East India Village Festivals – The northeastern states of India are Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Manipur. The culture of these northeastern villages vastly depends on the migrated tribal customs and traditions. The villages of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland celebrate some tribal festivals like Chapchar Kut, Mim Kut, Ningol Chakouba, Heikru Hitongba among many others.
South India Village Festivals – The villages of South India belong to the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra. The South Indian culture mostly includes festivals that are related to their coconut preparations, religion and water games; their common festivals are Onam, Pongal and numerous festivals on music and dance are quite popular in south Indian villages. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are into several tribal festivals, due to their major tribal population.
Indian Village Festivals Central India Village Festivals – The Central Indian villages belong to the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Arwa Teej, Kajri Navami, Bhojali and Chherta are the common festival of the rural areas in central India. Splendor, traditional songs, dances and colourful dresses are indispensable from these Indian village festivals.
West India Village Festivals – The West Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat have some of the most colorful and cultural villages, celebrating the traditional festivals. These festivities date back to the customs of the early raja and maharaja eras. Besides celebrating the popular Hindu festivals, Jain and Buddhist festivals are also integrated in the culture of these villages.
India is a land of unique festivals, retaining its culture and historical significance; the Indian villages are no exception. The rural Indian boasts some of the oldest and exceptional traditions that have grown as distinguished festivals that not only serve entertainment, but also speaks volumes about the Indian heritage and history. The geographic divisions of India definitely divide the language, rituals and festivals. However, the spirit with which the Indian village festivals are celebrated remain, predominantly, similar.

Different Dance Forms of 7 Sisters’ States

The Diversity in North India Fills your heart with peacefulness. North East India has a lot to offer the tourists and it is definitely one of the best places in India to visit once in a lifetime.

The states of far most north eastern part of India including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have rich diversity in culture too. Talking about culture, it is incomplete without its music, dance, literature and other arts. India is a country which has no boundary in accepting all the cultures together. It contains so many artistic dance forms all over the country. And the dance forms of Northeast Indian States are just mind blowing. They are like added flavours in the delicious tours in those seven states, which attracts several tourists every year.

You shall remember that these dances do not belong to a particular state only; they can be originated from anywhere else. But based on the popularity and amount of performances of each dance form, some dances serve as a hallmark for a particular state. Other than these dance forms, there are several dance forms that defies the rich heritage of northeast India.

Bihu –Assam

800px-Bihu-dancers-and-drummer

image credit: travelideaindia.com

Bihu is a popular and most important festival of Assam which is celebrated three times of a year. Both men and women perform a group dance during these festivals which is widely known as bihu dance. Maintaining their different gender roles, the dancers show different postures like twirls, squats, bends and movements of hips, arms and wrists. Female dancers wear mekhala-chador while male dancers put on dhoti-gamocha in the dance performance. There are various forms of bihu dances like ‘deori’, ‘mising’ etc.

Laho –Meghalaya

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image credit: in.pinterest.com

During the Behdienkhlam festival in Meghalaya, people of Meghalaya, especially the Pnar Tribe, takes part in laho dance with colourful attire. Two men stand in both side of a woman and they link each other’s arms to perform in particular steps. There is a comedian who can spontaneously do humorous recitation with the dance to entertain the audience.

Hojagiri –Tripura

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Laxi Puja or the hojagiri festival in Tripura brings a lot of enjoyment in the local people in forms of music, dance, dishes etc. The most interesting part of their celebration is the dance form during this puja which occurs on the first full moon night after Durga Puja. Four or six members in a team, all women, sing and balance on earthen pitchers, taking a bottle on the head and earthen lamp on the hand. Other such props are used too and only lower half of the body is moved.

Handicraft Shopping in the North East

The Seven Sisters in Northeast India include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Home to over 160 tribal groups, each different from the other, the culture of this region is richly reflected in its indigenous arts, crafts and handiwork.

Arunachal Pradesh

A woman from the Monpa tribe of Arunachal Pradesh displays a traditional hat woven from yak hair; Daniel J. Rao/shutterstock.com

Once known for the manufacture of guns, Arunachal Pradesh now produces a wide variety of hand-made goods. Handicrafts shopping in Arunachal Pradesh consists of carpets, wood carving, dolls, cane and bamboo and hand woven goods. It is also a haven for accessories lovers.
Located in isolated splendour, the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are divided into 3 major groups depending on their culture and handicrafts; the Buddhist tribes consist of the Sherdukpens and Monpas and also to some extent the Khowa. The Aka and Mijis comprise another group, while the Membas, Khambas, Khamtis and Singphos comprise the last group. Each tribe has a unique culture and their handicrafts are great as souvenirs for those visiting Northeast India.

#1 Weaving

Weaving is a common activity carried on by women in all the tribes. Arunachal Pradesh’ weaves are famous for their beautiful colour combinations. Exceptional are the Sherdukpen shawls, Apatani jackets and scarves, Adi skirts, jackets and bags, Mishmi shawls, blouses and jackets and Wancho bags and loin cloths. Don’t forget to include these in your shopping list.

#2 Carpet Making

When you see a bright colourful carpet with floral, geometric or dragon designs, chances are that the carpet is from Arunachal Pradesh. Carpets are a speciality of the Manpas. In recent years, these carpets have begun to be exported and are a major livelihood activity of the women.

#3 Wood Carving

Wood carving is associated with the culture and tradition of the various tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. Wood carving is a significant hobby of the Wanchos of Tirap. Their skilfully crafted and designed wooden articles have a special place in Arunachal handicrafts.

#4 Ornament Making

The Akas are famous for their bamboo ornaments while the Mishmis are famous for their use of silver in ornaments. The Wanchos make earrings from glass beads.

#5 Accessories

Doll making, bamboo and cane articles are also made here.

Mizoram

Also known as the land of the blue mountains, the finesse and intricate, traditional designs of Mizoram are beautiful. The Mizos have held on to certain patterns that have been passed down through the ages. These designs have become deeply rooted in their tribal consciousness and are an integral part of the heritage of the Mizos.

#1 Weaving

Weaving forms a major part of Mizo culture. Young girls are taught to weave early in childhood. The shawls and handbags produced by the various tribes are very attractive, though steeply priced. If you want to take home a memory of Mizoram, the delicate and exquisite puon, traditional Mizo dresses for women that are woven on a traditional loom, should be added to your shopping list. The Hmars have several designs of which the thangsuo puon, meaning famous cloth, puon laisen meaning cloth with middle in red colour, hmarm, the loin cloth worn by women and zakuolaisen, the blouse piece used by unmarried girls are high on the list.

#2 Cane & bamboo work

Mizos take great pride in their can and bamboo work. Expert basket makers, they etch and notch designs into soft cane fibers and use the baskets for numerous purposes.

Nagaland

Over 16 tribes live in the state of Nagaland. Most are adept at wood, metal and bamboo handicrafts.

Naga women

Naga women, wearing woven cloth, handmade beads and metal ornaments

#1 Woodcraft

Some of the finest woodcarvers in India come from the Wancho, Konyak and Phom tribes in Nagaland. The icons that best define the Naga’s skill in woodwork are carved mithun heads, hornbills, human figures, elephants, tigers and the log-drums or xylophones that are laboriously hollowed out of the trunk big trees. Woodcarving is also associated with their religious beliefs.

#2 Black smithy (metal craft)

Naga jewellery for the arm

Naga jewellery for the arm, wrist and neck

One of the recent additions to Naga arts and crafts, black smithy or metal craft is popularly found among the local tribes because of their affinity towards weapons such as spears and daos. The Rengma tribe is considered to be the best Naga black smith and you can get beautifully decorated spears as take-aways. Just make sure customs knows what you’re up to.

#3 Bamboo, cane & bead craft

With an abundance of bamboo and cane plantations in Nagaland, the bamboo and cane craft is an ancient tradition. The women of Nagaland also make gorgeous, colourful, ornaments decorated with beads, shells and feathers.

North East Indian designers strike perfect balance between modern and traditional concept

Weavers and designers from India’s northeast are now focusing on creating a greater variety of patterns by incorporating features from the distinctly diverse attire of the large number of tribes in the region to make a dent in the domestic and international fashion markets.

Simultaneously, they are seeking to strike a balance between the modern and traditional concept of designs, as they experiment with the aesthetics of regional fabrics and the glamour of Western wear.

The fashion scene in the northeast has been picking up and designers say they are still discovering the diversities of patterns in the attire worn by the various tribes inhabiting different states, cities and villages.

“On a particular occasion, the colours of the attire worn by a particular tribe may not be acceptable to another tribe. For instance, for people of one tribe it may be appropriate to don black dresses, which may seem offensive to some other tribe, for whom the appropriate hue is red. So neither of the tribes would wear their traditional dresses on that particular occasion,” Lathabiki Chawngthu, a designer from Mizoram, told IANS.

“So what we are trying to do is to bring about a fusion of these two colours in the dresses, so that both tribes are comfortable. And as such they can attend the parties in their traditional attires with the fusion colours,” Chawngthu added.

Gloria Ovung, a promising designer from Nagaland, prefers tweaking the traditional styles with a Western touch. “What we are also concentrating on is to make fusion of our traditional styles and some Western concepts. This is needed to make inroads into the domestic and international fashion circuits,” Ovang told IANS.

Many budding designers from the northeast have picked up their concepts from the region’s heritage, art and culture early in their life by watching their mothers and other women knit their traditional attire.

Take Chawngthu’s case. In her childhood, she watched in awe as her mother churned out traditional dresses from local fabric. “This helped me discover the beauty of Mizo art and culture and instilled in me a sense of using different colours while making dresses suitable for different occasions,” she explained.

“So, with our designs we try to bridge the gap between the traditional attire and modern dresses, while keeping our ethnic identity alive,” Chawngthu said.

Similarly, Ovung recounted how her interest in fashion grew out of seeing her mother weave and make clothes out of Naga fabrics. “Just like dresses, tribal jewellery designs are also witnessing new concepts, while not jettisoning age-old traditions,” Ovung noted.