Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A little bit of Shillong

Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya state of India .It was a part of undivided Assam , on 21 Jan 1972 it achieved its statehood.This beautiful state is the homeland of three of India's ancient hill tribes/communities Khasis,Garos and Jaintias.The state is called Meghalaya which means Abode Of Clouds as the hilltops are generally covered by dense and beautiful clouds making them almost indistinguishable and inseparable.It is a landlocked territory of lovely hills.Agriculture is the main source of livelihood here.The state has rich source of deposits of coal,limestone,sillimanite,fire clay,dolomite,feldspar,quartz.Its thick forest produce timber species like Sal,Teak,Titachapa,Gamari,Pine ,Birch etc.It is also rich in wildlife ,there are also some rare species of birds like the adjutant stork which can be seen here.It is also rich in orchids.The famous insect eating pitcher plant which is a botanical wonder is found abundantly in the hills of Meghalaya.Here in this picture above you see young girls and boys wearing traditional Khasi attire.....i clicked this picture back stage right after their dance performance during Rongali bihu cultural event at Shillong.
Bejeweled women  attired in traditional finery , silver clad men in colorful costumes dance along with the drummers and flutists. Male wear Jymphong which is a long sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by threads in front and a dhoti with an ornamental silver waist-band. The attire is complimented by a turban or a headgear. Ladies wear Jainsem a two piece unstitched wrap around garment woven from the mulberry silk cultivated in the local region and they too wear a beautiful silver crown on their head.
Here is another group of young ladies wearing traditional Khasi dress Jainsem. ...they were about to present a Christian devotional chorus in the same event . Meghalaya is one of the three states of India to have a Christian majority with approx.70%of the population following Christianity.The Khasis are believed to be the remnants of the first Mongoloids overflow into India.They have matrelineal society where the descent is traced through the mother .It is only the youngest daughter or Ka Khadduh who is eligible to inherit the ancestral property.If she dies without any daughter surviving her the property is inherited by the next surviving elder sister.Ka Khadduh needs to obtain an approval or consent from her uncle and brothers in case she wants to dispose the ancestral property.

As Shillong is known for its scenic beauty and cool climate ,it is considered one of the most favorite tourist destination of NE region of India.We were there on a short trip but still we managed to take the kids to Ward's Lake which is situated right at the heart of the town and is very near to our home there.
Feeding the fishes and pedal boating are the main attraction .....we did little bit of both.We were lucky to get a sunny weather through out our stay .
This is Lady Hydary Park ....not only it is beautiful but also it has a mini Zoo attached to it.
Elephant Falls
One of the main attraction of Shillong is Elephant Falls.
The main Falls :Elephant Falls

Originally the Khasi people named the falls Ka Ksaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew (three steps waterfall) because the water falls into three steps.When the British people came and found the water falls they named it Elephant Falls because on the left side of the falls there was a rock resembled the Elephant but this rock was destroyed by the earth quake in the year 1897.
view of Shillong

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bihu Is In The Air

Onset of the Assamese new year(at around 15 April every year) and coming of spring is celebrated as Rongali-Bihu or also called as Bohag bihu.This marks the first day of the Hindu solar calendar and is observed all over India though called by different names.The above picture is a of a group of Bihu dancers ,these groups visit household to household to sing and dance .Rongali bihu is a seven day long celebration but out here it is celebrated the whole month around.This group was sponsored by Reliance mobile group:they were performing in a housing society near my house .
Here is a picture of girls wearing traditional muga silk mekhela sador .These groups of mainly unmarried and young people visit individual households, by first announcing their arrival at the gate (podulimukh) with drum beats. The singers are traditionally welcomed into the courtyard where they sing the songs and perform the dance. At the end of the performance they are thanked with an offering of tamul in a Xorai(a bell metal stand) whereupon the group bless the household for the coming year. If there is a bereavement in the family, or the family does not invite the group due to an illness, they offer blessings from podulimukh and move on to the next house.
These kind of group usually sing romance and love themed songs.As bihu is commencing ,this year too like always me and my family is visiting our Shillong house for few days.There is a lot to do....packing winter clothes as it would be very cold there even at this time of the year .Bihu is celebrated very grandly in Shillong by Assamese community residing there.Hope to bring more for you about Rongali- Bihu once i get back.I will not be able to visit your blogs for few days.I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Rongali Bihu.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

To my country...with love

I have loved my country ever since I was a child. And this was instilled in me by my parents who would always bring me books that told the story of this incredible country—folk tales, books on various festivals of India, biographies of freedom fighters, Amar Chitra Katha , Chandamama and many more . This huge country, her people and their culture fascinate me. But my love is not blind, I know the weaknesses too. I know there are several areas such as infrastructure, politics, economy and the like, where there is a big need for improvement. But as a citizen of this country, I believe in doing my bit and taking pride in the good things.

There have been some friends who have questioned this belief of mine: what is there to be so proud of India? I have met many people who live here and think very negatively about the country, while there are many who are expatriates but have unconditional love and respect their country. Again, there are a few others who were born and brought up in India, but just a few years of living abroad made them hyper critical of their own country. Pointing out our weaknesses is good and very important, but those who really make an effort on improving things are few and far between.

I wonder if I need a reason at all to love my country. I also don’t know if I need to explain why I’m happy living in this country. What I do know is that I love my land with all its strengths and weaknesses. It is my motherland, and I don’t need any reason to love my mother.

How do you feel about your country? Are you proud of it? Are you happy living there? And if you live abroad, do you think that the country you actually came from is a bad place?

Please share your views.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Diarist Par-Excellence - Ajoyanand Bora

Dear friends let me have the honor of introducing you to Ajayananda Borah an extremely interesting person and in his own words 'a wannabe record breaker who seeks entry into Limca Book Of Records by penning his thoughts since 1961 till date without a single day's break.'Mr.Borah has been visiting our dental clinic for the last many years and in spite of various chit-chats between us ,this interesting side of him was not known to us.In the first week of Feb he invited us to attend his Golden celebration of continuous diary writing (1961-2010) at Guwahati press club.This Thursday evening me and my husband visited his place .Here is a personal account of the things we talked about.
Here in the above picture you see the man himself.Below is the picture of his diaries 50 in number all labelled year wise.
When he first jotted down his thoughts in a personal diary as a schoolboy,he had no idea that his new hobby would become an abiding passion.'My diary is entirely personal,i do not claim it to be a detailed record of contemporary events,but definitely is a non stop journey of half a century i.e.1961-2010'.He is legitimately seeking a place in the Limca book of records and if his feat is recognised,Borah' will edge out present record holder Chandulall Chowdhury of Mumbai who wrote diaries from 1965 only.Mr. Borah's personal notes run into 17,900 pages and more till this date.We had the pleasure of peeping through all of his diaries with his due permission as he believes that now his diaries don't belong to him alone.For my blogger friends i clicked this picture where the very first and the latest page of his diary are shown together.
He was born in the year 1943 at Biswanath Gymnkhana European Club near Pabhoi tea estate in Assam,India.In 1964 after his graduation he started his career as a high school teacher and later on joined All India Radio Dibrugarh as Programme Announcer since its inception in1969,after 35 yrs of service retired in 2003.He has produced a number of Radio plays and dramatized multi serial episode serial novels .His very popular radio programme 'DAK PAKHILI' is still remembered by the listeners where he used to reply listener's letters.
Though he developed the habit of writing in 1954 when he just got admitted in high school,he had no records of initial years ,because most of the jottings were on loose papers.He started maintaining hard bound diaries since 1961 in Darrang college where in influenced by Principal Bipinpal Das and Dr. Amalendu Guha ."I was not directly influenced by anybody but indirectly inspired by my high school teachers like BirenKakoty,KeshabMahanta and many more."
Justify Full Running my fingers through the pages of his diaries was amazing ....he read out to us many interesting incidents from his diary...his wedding day,the cost of the gold at that time of the year(1978...gold was rs 880/10 gm),annual expenditure of the year 1963 was Rs 308,he bought cloth for his trouser at rs 3/ ,Petrol per Lt cost RS 1.60 in the year 1973.Apart from keeping record of national,international and local important current events he kept record of the climatic conditions too.Events of Burning Assam Agitation are all portrayed very vividly in his diaries.
His day always starts at 5 am and he always carries a piece of white paper and a pen so that he can note down important things and at the bed time he finally records them in his diary.He maintains an Index Volume of diaries for easy reference -like he showed us the day when he for the very first time visited our dental clinic.Borah's record has been entered in Asomiya Book Of Records edited by Santanu Kausik Baruah 1st edition2006(see the page in the picture above).
Here is a picture of the letter written by the people of Gupta Diary of Kolkatta...he has been writing on the diaries sold by this company since the very beginning.He has submitted adequate documentations to the Limca book of records and is awaiting their response.World record of writing diaries is held by Col.Ernst Loftus of Zimbabwe,who wrote diaries for 91 yrs and died at the age of 103 yrs in 1987.Asked him if he has a similar target,Mr.Borah quipped....."it is simply impossible,i am already 67,let me see how long i can continue,i will go on writing till the last day of my life.He is trying to contact Guinness Book(International British Ed)to ascertain whether his feat of 50 yrs of continuous diary writing has any parallel in this particular discipline.
His wife Mrs Bella is a very sweet and soft spoken lady,they have two kids ,one medico son Abhinandan and a daughter Monmayuri ,both of them presently residing at Delhi.He tells me that inspired by him his daughter too has been maintaining a diary for the 10 yrs while one of his sister wrote diaries for almost 20 yrs .I asked Mrs Bella if she too maintains a diary to which she replied that each year since they are married he has been gifting her a diary but most of them are blank....we all broke into a laughter hearing that.We were treated grandly by many snacks , savouries and tea and later he showed us his large collection of music cds and movies dvds,a large number of different styled set of playing cards,his badminton racket .Over all it was an evening that would be etched in our memories for ever.I came back highly inspired and motivated ...i hope to be more regular in updating my blog .