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‘Participation key to upholding tradition’

By A Reporter

SHILLONG: Energetic participation is all that is required to ensure that tradition continue to grow and don’t become mere rituals. A sign of tradition thriving is artisans finding alternative materials to make accessories for girls and boys who dance during Nongkrem so that cost doesn’t inhibit them from participating could be seen.

Aiban Swen(46), a government official living in Shillong points out to several silver colour accessories of dancers and said, “What my kids have worn is white gold, but not everyone can afford it so the local artisans and craftsmen have also started using some other materials to make these accessories.”

Although most of the crowd seemed to consist of locals, a trio from UK-Catherine Burns (34), David Haqan (34) and Hayley Chandler (32) was also present. They have been travelling to different parts of the India since January and arrived in Meghalaya yesterday.

“We have been travelling mostly to tribal areas in Kutch, Gujarat, Bastar in Chattisgarh, Assam but this place came as a surprise to us–it is very European. Dances like this (Nongkrem) is what we have come for, to see the animist tradition which is very difficult to find after the work of missionaries.”

They are fascinated by the diversity of the country and surprised that there is almost negligible promotion of tribal areas for tourism. “I saw the Taj Mahal, it is beautiful, but I look at it once and I am done. This dance, the women dressed elaborately in Rajasthan I will remember, I really wish the government would promote the tribal areas.”

Travelling across India has been a life changing experience for them and they find themselves sensitized towards the environment and moved by the selfless hospitality of people. Their next stop will be at Garo Hills for the Wangala festival.

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