Don Bosco museum adds another attraction

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Upholding the fundamental nature of its existence in preserving the indigenous cultures and traditions of North East India, the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC), the 2nd largest museum in Asia, on Friday stepped beyond the cultures of the North East to add a new feather to its existing glory.

Formally inaugurated by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 2010, this unique centre which displays the indigenous cultures of the eight Northeastern states including Sikkim, all under one roof, saw the addition of a new gallery- ‘Our Neighbours’ – which aims at showcasing the cultures of the five neighbouring countries of the North East (China, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh).

Considered as a cultural bridge of friendship with the five neighbouring countries, this new gallery displayed a whole range of cultures and traditions of Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

The new gallery was blessed by Rev Dominic Jala, the Archbishop of Shillong and was inaugurated by Rev Fr. Joseph Almeida, the former provincial of the Salesian of Don Bosco, Guwahati province.

Interestingly, the day coincided with the 74th birthday of the director of the Museum, Rev Fr. Joseph Puthenpurackal.

Inside the gallery, one can find fibre glass life size figures of Bhutanese, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Burmese and Nepalese people. The life size figures were made by artists from Kolkata – Nasir and Jayata.

A computer fitted to the gallery provides detailed information about the five neighbouring countries.

Speaking to The Shillong Times, Director of the Museum, Rev Fr. Joseph Puthenpurackal highlighted the purpose of this new initiative stating that “This gallery will teach the visitors about the richness and beauty of the countries surrounding the seven states of the North East”.

Fr Joseph further mentioned that it took almost 8 months to study the concept and bring together the cultures of the five countries under one roof. Fr Joseph also informed that with the clearance of the project by the North Eastern Council (NEC), the museum will very soon add one more feather to its cap – ‘The Rainbow’ gallery which will basically showcase the culture and tradition of 300 tribes and sub-tribes of the Northeast.

“It was noticed that there is a fear of sub-tribes like the Khynriam, War and Lyngngam besides others, who being small in number, could be absorbed by the bigger tribes like the Khasis, Pnars and the Garos. We don’t want them to lose their identity because these are the small groups which add flavour to the whole existence of the State”, Fr Joseph observed.

“They need to carry the culture anywhere they go be it in the educational institutions or any other institutions as I believe that ‘Culture’ is the root of our identity”, he added.

With only 7000 visitors in the past few years, it was informed that till December 2011, the number of visitors has increased to about 35, 868. It was further informed that the number of visitors from all over the country and abroad, doubles every year.

With 56,000 square feet of floor space and 15,154 square feet of display wall space, DBCIC has seven floors and 17 galleries altogether displaying cultural artifacts of the Northeastern region under one roof. Its seven floors represent the seven states of the Northeast.