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Mayong: A place in Assam where magic ‘cures’ diseases and helps catch thieves

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A view of Pobitora Wildlfie Sanctuary in Assam. It is located by River Brahmaputa, and a small portion of the village of Mayong. Well know for a dense population of the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Flickr Common Creatives.

By Rukma Singh

40 Kilometres from Guwahati, lies the mystical, magical land of Mayong. The name ‘Mayong’ is believed to have originated from the word maya (illusion). It is a cluster of villages located on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Morigaon district.

Feared as the land of ‘Black magic and magicians’, the secret stories of Mayong are believed to be the main factors encouraging the mysticism associated with it. Mayong also happens to be a famous tourist spot. Curious tourists who have visited Mayong say that the eerie silence that surrounds it stands in utter contrast to the dark and chaotic history that it has had.

The name
Every aspect of Mayong has a story associated with it. Even the origin of the name has an unresolved mystery. Following are some of the stories narrated by the natives:

During the time when all the northeast states were one under a common name Assam, it is believed that Manipuris from the Maiibong clan used to inhabitat this area therefore; the name Maibong became Mayhong with time.

Mayong is a hilly area that was full of elephants, and in Manipuri language an elephant is called Miyong. Hence, a few believe that Miyong became Mayong with time. There is also a legend associated with the name, it is said that the sacred parts of Godess Shakti, hence the older generation called it as Maa- R- Ongo, (parts of the goddess ), and later on it became Mayong.

Cultural significance
The cultural significance of the place stems from the fact that it is the capital of magic and witchcraft in India.

Upon a visit to Mayong, one can witness some rare tricks which may look like unnatural practice to modernity but are enough to shake one from within. The most common tricks include fortune telling via sea shells , palmistry, future projection through a piece of broken glass look unbelievable.

The magic in Mayong is believed to have been used for social welfare.

One of the magic tricks leads to curing an illness from a distance only by cutting only a handful of plants while chanting some secret words.

Perhaps one of the most outstanding acts of magic is the act of curing back pain. The witchdoctor ‘puts’ the cure trapped inside a magic chant in a copper dish to track the pain. When the pain originates, the plate gets stuck with the body. Locals believe that this dish eats away the pain.

If the person is really suffering from pain, the copper dish becomes extremely hot and within seconds, it breaks and scatters automatically.

Another trick includes finding a stolen item. The witchdoctor puts a flower in a metal bowl, which starts moving by itself and moves directly to the place where the stolen item is kept.

As untrue as they sound, these tricks have been proven.

There are several mantras too, which are used for different reasons. For example, to create attraction between two individuals, they have Mohini mantra, Bokhikaran mantra.  Reportedly, in the old times, people  could actually move to whenever they wanted in minutes by the use of Uran mantra, or the chant to fly.

Folklore

Folklore suggests that in the earlier times, there lived a sorcerer by the name of Chura Bez in Assam. The word of his magical powers had spread far and wide, and with good reason. Chura Bez was known to be able to disappear into thin air just by muttering the ‘Luki Mantra’.

“I was a young girl then, but my grandfather’s stupendous feats are fresh in my mind’s eye. Now you see him, now you don’t – we would rub our eyes in disbelief as he suddenly became invisible, ” says his 75-year-old granddaughter, Nareswari Devi to a national daily.

Mayong and the media

Filmmaker Utpal Borpujari

Not a lot of effort had been made to document Mayong in its entirely until 2011 when filmmaker Utpal Borpujari decided to visit. His journey resulted into a 53-minute documentary film, Mayong: Myth/Reality, which delves into the ancient secrets of these practitioners of the tantra school of Hinduism.

It has a community of 100-odd magicians, but many of them, as the film reveals, are compelled to work as farm hands or masons to make a living. Time seems to have stood still here for too long, leaving the locals in a rather precarious socio-economic condition.

Magician P.C. Sorcar

P.C. Sarkar, the world famous magician, has been known to have acknowledged his indebtedness to Mayong’s teachings for many of his performances.

 Present state

Septuagenarian Basanta Nath, a magic practitioner of the village, is a strong believer in magic.

“People these days dismiss magic as superstition. But when you see things for yourself, you believe. Nowadays, when people fall ill, they generally prefer to go to the doctor instead of us. But there are still people who come to us with their troubles,” Nath said to a national daily.

“People from far off states like Punjab, Haryana and West Bengal, other than from Assam and the surrounding places, come to Mayong to learn magic,” he added.

Naba Deka, who works in a resort in the wildlife sanctuary and hails from Mayong says, “There are spells to turn a leaf into a fish, or an evil man into an animal. But magic cannot fight against nature’s fury; so there is no spell against the annual floods (in the Brahmaputra river).”

Many tourists call Mayong a land of ‘necromancy’, where within the layers of scenic beauty lies a plethora of secrets of magic and myth.

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

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Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 

 

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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

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Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)

 

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The Need to Celebrate National Handloom Day in India: Its Significance and Relevance in Modern Times

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day

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National Handloom Day
Significance of National Handloom Day. Pixabay
  • Various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers by the Indian Government
  • More than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women
  • This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate 3rd National Handloom Day

New Delhi, August 7, 2017: In order to keep the country’s traditions alive, and encourage people to wear hand-made loom, National Handloom Day is observed and celebrated in India on August 7. The 3rd National Handloom Day event was held in Guwahati, Assam.

This day is celebrated to remind ourselves of a 1905 Swadeshi Movement during which Indians boycotted British products in favor of the revival of domestic ones and in modern times to encourage people to wear handloom products.

Wearing Handloom is not a practice that should be celebrated for a day but it should be worn all year round to remain rooted in one’s culture, tradition and to support weavers who put their years of experience, time, energy and soul into creating these pieces of art.

Bishnupur Handloom, West Bengal
Bishnupur Handloom from West Bengal. Wikimedia

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day and to grace the occasion a documentary on handloom was also screened.

Ajay Tamta, Union Minister of State, Textiles, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam and Anant Kumar Singh, Textiles Secretary were present at the event. Ajay Tamta said that he appreciates and salutes the handloom weavers for their commitment, dedication, and skill. He said that handloom weavers should be able to earn due value for their products and that the Government is working in this direction for which various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers such as- Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme and MUDRA scheme.

According to the Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme, the Government of India will assist the weavers by bearing 90% of the cost of new looms. As per MUDRA scheme, loans can be availed by the weavers of Rs. 50,000/- to Rs. 10 lakh without any security.

The Minister also informed that the Ministry of Textiles has entered into MoUs with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) as per which children of weavers will be able to avail school and university education (with 75% of fees being borne by the Government of India). Sonowal noted that more than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women. If the government is successful in improving the lifestyle of weavers it will empower various north eastern women and girls.

ALSO READ: ‘Livelihood Creation in India’: The Socioeconomic well being of Women through West Bengal’s Murshidabad Handlooms

Smriti Irani, Union Textiles Minister while addressing a gathering at Ahmedabad said, the weavers will be able to derive the benefit of services like online courses, banking, passport, insurance, PAN card, voter ID and AADHAAR from Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs), from this year onwards. Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

Jayasri Samyukta Iyer, fashion designer and executive committee member of the Craft Council of India, said that this year, they want to highlight three types of saree’s and its revival process. Kodalli Karuppur saree belonging to Tamil Nadu, it was used in the ancient times during Thanjavur kingdom and seems non-existent now. Patteda Anchu saree belongs to Karnataka, and lastly Gauda Adivasi saree from Goa. Each of the above-mentioned saree’s has an interesting history, but sadly, its relevance is fading away.

Some popular handloom fabrics are Bomkai from Subarnapur, Orissa, Mangalagiri cotton from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Tussar silk from Jharkhand, Paithani Brocade from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Maheshwari from Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, Pochampally Ikat from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Patola weave from Patan, Gujarat.

It is high time that we come up with an initiative to improve marketing strategies for handloom sector in the country and uplift the weaver’s community; also to encourage people to move away from power loom and incorporate handloom products in the form of saree’s, shirts, trousers and skirts in their lives.

There is a need find ways to increase remuneration for the weavers so that they can financially support their families, the future generation is willing to take up weaving and the art of weaving can be sustained. To popularize it amongst youngsters, celebrities can wear handloom saree’s, shirts, skirts, dresses and make a cool style statement out of it, influencing thousands of people at a time.

– by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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