Northeast designer eyes Milan, Paris after London Fashion Week

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New Delhi: She hails from Arunachal Pradesh, stays in Assam, and is making a headway internationally by showcasing the handloom prowess of culturally-rich northeastern India. After displaying her tribal creations with a modern twist in London, Yana Ngoba is now eyeing the runways of global fashion capitals Paris and Milan.

Ngoba presented her collection in collaboration with designer Nabam Aka, also from Arunachal Pradesh, as a part of the London Fashion Week’s off-schedule show Fashions Finest. And the 28-year-old is thrilled with the response.

“Our collection highlighted the northeast region’s handloom, especially the loin loom made in Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal, Nagaland… even muga of Assam. We used them to create gowns, dresses, skirts and ornaments.

“People (in London) loved it. They couldn’t believe people in India could be so different,” Ngoba told IANS in a telephonic interview from Guwahati, where she is based now.

She said that the buyers associated Indian fashion with only saris. So they were pleasantly surprised when they saw her bright-coloured range of apparel in the form of gowns with slits or deep neck and skirts with jackets paired with accessories and ornaments made of bronze, silver, old Indian coins and bamboo canes.

“People in London asked me ‘Which country are you inspired by?’ I said ‘India’. So, they were confused. They said that they have always seen people wearing saris (in India). I said ‘No. We are from northeast India and have a different culture’.

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“We even showed pictures and videos on our culture. Most of the things were sold out. We also got orders in bulk,” said the designer, who has been in the industry for over a decade.

Ngoba, who had showcased her creations at another fashion week in Britain last year, now wants to explore other international markets.

“Milan Fashion Week is not yet confirmed. But I’ll make sure it is. It is a dream. Fashion comes from all the big cities like London, Milan and Paris; so we thought of hitting those ramps first,” she said.

A regular participant in northeast festivals in the country, she says Indian fashion weeks can wait as she would like to get a taste of the international platform first.

“When I see Indian fashion weeks, most of the fashion designers focus on international fashion… like evening wear or dresses. So, I thought that maybe we should do international fashion shows first,” she said.

People from northeast are considered to have a distinct sense of style and often, their fashion seems to be influenced by western trends.

“We get things mostly from Bangkok if they are not our traditional attire. If you notice, since our forefathers’ time, fashion has been important to us. They were always decked up from head to toe… be it headgear, ornaments or colourful clothes. That’s our personal style… something different from the rest of the world,” she said.

Any fashion picks from the northeast region?

“Maybe you can start with the jewellery pieces. The ones made with coins will go well with sari or salwars too,” said the designer, who wants to work with more weavers across the country.

(By Natalia Ningthoujam, IANS)

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Stop “Stereotyping” Northeast, States Hold Strong Cultural Harmony

Anungla Longumer, a writer-musician from Nagaland, explained how her state that has 14 different tribes, has massive ethnic diversities but comes together with a "common cultural ethos".

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north east india
Northeast is filled with diversities, shouldn't be stereotyped,pixabay

Writers and intellectuals from the northeast have said that the region is full of ethnic and linguistic diversity and urged the rest of the country to stop “stereotyping” the people living there as peripheral.

Noting that the northeastern states have a  but are marred by political conflicts, they claimed that the region can become “a great force” if the political ideologies match.

“The people of northeast are evolving while people from the rest of the country have a fixed image about us as a whole. Such stereotyping is often disturbing. People just lump us together and term all of us as the ‘northeasterns’,” Anjulika Samom, an independent journalist from Manipur said during a session at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet 2019 here.

north east India

Noting that the northeastern states have a  but are marred by political conflicts, they claimed that the region can become “a great force” if the political ideologies match.

Explaining the centre-periphery concept about the states, Dolly Kikon, a social anthropologist from Nagaland, said the region is conceived as peripheral due to policies made by the Central government and said such concepts should be questioned.

“The centre-periphery thing has its origin in the securitisation of the region and also the kind of policy that are made in Delhi. It has been built using a very colonial framework of remoteness. I think we need to question that,” she said.

Echoing her, Samom claimed that for the people living in those states, their habitat is the centre of their universe, while the other parts of the nation become peripheral.

north east india
Echoing her, Samom claimed that for the people living in those states, their habitat is the centre of their universe, while the other parts of the nation become peripheral. pixabay

Also Read: Great Potential For Books In India: International Bestselling Authors

Anungla Longumer, a writer-musician from Nagaland, explained how her state that has 14 different tribes, has massive ethnic diversities but comes together with a “common cultural ethos”.

“On the ground we are very tolerant about our diversity. We identify and relate with each other. There are a lot of political conflicts in the region due to the ethnical diversity but at the ground level people are bound by a strong cultural ethos. The region can become a considerable force if it can come together in terms of common political ideologies,” she added. (IANS)

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National Handloom Day To Be Celebrated On August 7

India's handloom industry, unlike several other sectors, is innately environmentally conscious and responsible. It also provides artisans with a sustainable means of income in their villages.

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National Handloom Day is on August 7. Flickr

Gone are the days when handlooms were restricted to ethnic wear. Young designers are giving fresh perspective to this age-old textile and craft in the form of dresses, maxi-gowns and jumpsuits — making it, in the process, more meaningful for today’s generation.

“I find lots of young designers are trying to integrate responsible fashion into their ideas. The government is supporting these clusters as part of the Make in India campaign and I see a serious effort to try and focus attention on the plight of our craftsmen and weavers,” designer Payal Khandwala, who launched her eponymous label in 2012 and works with handwoven silks, khadi, cottons and linens, told IANS.

“It requires patience and it is not without its challenges, but I find the fruit of the labour is well worth the while. I just hope this is not a trend and becomes an integral and ongoing part of the ethos for a brand and the consumer,” she added.

For designer Anita Dongre, India has a long and unique history of craftsmanship, with several indigenous crafts and practices passed down across generations of artisanal communities.

“From heritage Benarasi weaves that have an innate royal feel, to luminous, featherweight chanderi cottons — finely-crafted handloom pieces will always win the creative battle over all things factory-made,” Dongre told IANS.

“Moreover, India’s handloom industry, unlike several other sectors, is innately environmentally conscious and responsible. It also provides artisans with a sustainable means of income in their villages… It’s about time we put the spotlight back on traditional weaves and give handloom its due,” Dongre added.

The designer also said that there have been a significant growth in the interest in handloom and traditional weaves in the recent years.

A fresh Perspective Is Given By New Young Designers.
A Fresh Perspective Is Given By New Young Designers.

“The active involvement and thoughtful initiatives of the government have accelerated the spread of this awareness. A lot of designers are creating conscious fashion using Indian textiles and crafts. Fashion schools are also doing fantastic work in sensitising the design community to these relevant issues. With Grassroot (one of her labels), we’re going one step ahead and making sure fashion benefits the maker and the buyer,” she said.

For designer Anavila Misra, of the eponymous brand Anavila, the beauty and comfort of handlooms, combined with contemporary silhouettes and designs, are making it a very high fashion, luxury commodity.

“I feel there is a very strong parallel voice of sustainable slow fashion emerging in terms of young designers. The changing roles and shifting paradigms of women in India have also created a new fashion voice which goes with the new Indian women breaking barriers, leading independent lives and always on the move,” Misra told IANS.

So, how is handloom attracting today’s youth in terms of cuts and patterns?

“Handwoven textiles are so versatile, almost any outfit can be made with them. Of course, it depends on the weight, drape and fall. Khadi jumpsuits, Matka silk palazzos, Brocade dresses, a Bhagalpuri silk shirtdress, Chanderi cotton silk maxis are great silhouettes that can be made in handcrafted fabrics,” Khandwala explained.

The Anavila brand offers everything — from a shirt, trouser to a formal suit and a sari — in handloom.

“From a casual tunic for at-home lounging, to a formal sari for an event and a jacket for the office — all are available in varied handloom designs to make your all-handloom wardrobe,” Misra pointed out.

The Government Is Now Set To Promote Handlooms As A Way to Reminiscence Our Culture. Wikimedia Commons
The Government Is Now Set To Promote Handlooms As A Way to Reminiscence Our Culture. Wikimedia Commons

She also felt that India is currently going through exciting times and so the future of handloom is bright.

“We have found our own voice and are confidently finding artistic expressions. The design landscape is full of young designers eager to work with Indian craft and textile heritage and create beautiful products which are a true representation of the unique skill-set of our artisans and weavers.

Also Read: The Need To Celebrate National Handloom Day in India: It’s Significance and Relevance in Modern Times

“This is resulting in unique products with their inherent USP. Handlooms and sustainable fashion have a strong future, as customers have shown great interest and embraced the same,” Misra noted. (IANS)

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Lachit Borphukan : The undefeated warrior in Battle of Saraighat who resisted Mughal conquest of Northeast India

Not many of us know about the unsung hero of Battle of Saraighat, Lachit Borphukan, the military commander of Ahom Kingdom who resisted Mughal conquest in Northeast India

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Battle of Saraighat
Lachit Borphukan statue (SM)
  • When Mughal empire was brutally expanding under Aurangzeb, then the commander of Ahom dynasty, Lachit Borphukan made them taste their worst defeat in historic Battle of Saraighat

With mighty army of Mughals Aurangzeb was eyeing at Northeast India. But he was not aware of what fate his army will meet when they clash with Ahom dynasty of Assam under commandership of Lachit Borphukan, the man who shattered dreams of Mughal empire to conquest Northeast India. We are quite familiar with the valour of Maharana Pratap and Shivaji but somehow we were not told much about the unsung hero of Battle of Saraighat, Lachit Borphukan. Battle of Saraighat would always be remembered for the victory of a much smaller Ahom army over the mighty Mughal Army, through a combination of tactical brilliance, guerrilla warfare and intelligence gathering. It was the last attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire into Assam.

The valiant Ahoms had successfully repulsed frequent attacks on their motherland since the time of Muhammad Ghori for around seventeen invasions.

Battle of Saraighat
Lachit Borphukan, commander of Ahom dynasty (Wikimedia)

The Mughals, were comparatively very well equipped, but failed to make any advances towards the Ahom army in the first phase of the war. So they offered Lachit Borphukan a bribe of one lakh rupees to abandon Guwahati but Lachit Borphukan refused to surrender.

From the capital city of Guwahti to the depths of the forests the Ahom warriors fought and held back the tide of invasion. The proud warriors of Central Asia, Mughals and Pathans alike were retreated  by the valiant resistance of the Ahoms.

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An incident in the history of Ahom resistance radiates the spirit which animated their fight for freedom, when Lachit Borphukan, the Army General of Ahom king Chakradhwaj Singha had beheaded his maternal uncle for dereliction of duty while preparing to face the Mughals. His execution of his own uncle for not showing sufficient dedication to the war effort was not just an act of impulse but a reminder to his soldiers that in the service of one’s Dharma, it is not possible to adopt double standards of judgement. This act of selflessness and dedication further motivated the troops, who were charged with full energy and enthusiasm to the battle field. Such examples are not very uncommon in Indian history where Dharma is upheld.

Battle of Saraighat
Lachit borphukan, might warrior of Ahom kingdom (zeenews)

The reason why small Ahom army under Lachit Borphukan defeated mighty army of Mughals lies in the elaborate defense organized by him along the Brahamputra river which denied the use of the waterway to a large army of Aurangzeb comprising 1800 Turkish cavalry, 30,000 infantry and 500 cannons manned by the Portuguese. In the final stages of the battle, despite being seriously ill, he rallied his soldiers and personally led an assault forcing them to retreat. It is recorded that he said:“When my countrymen are suffering from invasion, and when my army is fighting and sacrificing its life, how can I think about resting my body due to a mere illness? How can I think about going home to my wife and children when my entire country is in trouble?”

The Mughal Commander-in-Chief, acknowledging his defeat by the Ahom soldiers and their Commander-in-Chief Lachit Barphukan, wrote, “Glory to the king! Glory to the counselors! Glory to the commanders! Glory to the country! One single individual leads all the forces! Even I, Ram Singh, being personally on the spot, have not been able to find any loophole and an opportunity!”

Lachit died soon after his victory at The Battle of Saraighat due to illness. It is sad that Lachit Borphukan is an unsung hero, let us give him the recognition he deserves, we must tell his tale of valour to coming generations and derive inspiration, he is an example that no matter how strong opponents and barbaric forces were, someone, somewhere resisted and fought against them for protection of motherland.

 

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

One response to “Lachit Borphukan : The undefeated warrior in Battle of Saraighat who resisted Mughal conquest of Northeast India”

  1. THE FIRST EVER MUSLIM INVASION OF WESTERN ASSAM(THE NAME ASSAM DID NOT EXIST AT THAT TIME AND WAS KNOWN AS KAMRUPA OR KAMATAPUR) WAS IN THE YEAR 1206 BY THE DESTROYER OF NALANDA AND VIKRAMSHILA UNIVERSITY,THE GREAT TURKIC GENERAL AND RULER OF BENGAL BAKHTIAR KHILJI( FROM THE KHIJI TRIBE OF AFGHANISTAN).HE ATTACKED KAMARUPA WITH THE INTENSION OF CAPTURING TIBET.IN KAMRUPA HE HAD TO FACE GREAT RESISTANCE FROM THE KOCH KING PRITHU AND RETURN BACK EMPTYHANDED AFTER A CRUSHING DEFEAT.THE SECOND ATTACK HAPPENED IN 1227 AGAIN DURING PRITHU’S RULE BY BENGAL RULER GHIYASUDDIN IWAJ.THE THIRD ATTACK HAPPENED IN 1228 BY BENGAL GOVERNOR NASIRUDDIN AND THIS TIME PRITHU WAS KILLED.AFTER THAT SEVEN MORE ATTACKS FOLLOWED ON KAMARUPA OR KAMATAPUR.THE FIRST MUSLIM INVASION OF EASTERN ASSAM( ASOM OR AHOM) WAS ONLY IN 1516 OR 1527 BY THE GREAT WAZIRS DURING REIGN OF AHOM KING SUHUNGMUNG .THE AHOMS CAME TO UPPER ASSAM(INHABITED AND RULED BY GROUPS OF KACHARI PEOPLE NAMELY THE MORANS ,BORAHIS AND THE GREAT CHUTIAS) FROM THE BORDER REGIONS OF MYANMAR AND CHINA ONLY DURING THIRTEENTH CENTURY. AT THAT ASSAM WAS DIVIDED INTO THREE PARTS – CHUTIA KINGDOM(UPPER ASSAM).KACHARI KINGDOM(CENTRAL ASSAM) AND KAMATAPUR RULED BY THE KOCHES(WESTERN ASSAM).THE WORD ASOM OR AHOM EXISTED ONLY FROM THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY AFTER THE AHOMS SUBJUGATED THE CHUTIAS AND THE KACHARIS AND BROUGHT THE WHOLE OF UPPER AND CENTRAL ASSAM UNDER THEIR CONTROL.PEOPLE OF KAMATAPUR OR WESTERN ASSAM THEN CALLED THE EASTERN REGION AS THE ASOM OR AHOM KINGDOM.THE BATTLE OF SARAIGHAT WAS THE 17TH AND FINAL ATTACK BY MUSLIMS.IT HAPPENED IN THE YEAR 1671.IT WOULD BE VERY WRONG TO SAY THAT ONLY THE AHOMS DEFEATED MUGHALS ALONE AS THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF KOCH SOLDIERS OF KOCH HAJO.THERE WERE ALSO DAFLA SOLDIERS FROM ARUNACHAL,GARO SOLDIERS FROM MEGHALAYA,MUSLIM SOLDIERS WHO WERE PRISONERS OF WAR . IT WOULD BE BETTER TO SAY THAT THE BATTLE AGAINST THE MUGHALS WAS WON WITH THE UNIFIED SOLDIERS OF VARIOUS TRIBES UNDER GENERAL LACHIT BORPHUKAN.SIMILARLY THE MUGHAL ARMY ALSO CONSISTED OF THOUSANDS OF KOCH SOLDIERS FROM KOCH BEHAR AND RAJPUT SOLDIERS.

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