Browse Category: Culture

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

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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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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.