: Ukhrul: At a time when global economy has slowed down and people continue to remain indoors in the wake of the deadly Coronavirus aka COVID-19 outbreak, tourists from Greece are seen enjoying as they participate in a tug-of-war game, locally known as ‘thingneira khangakhun’, at the ongoing Hungpung Luira Phanit, a seed sowing festival in Ukhrul district on Wednesday, in a viral video.
Tug-of-war or rope pulling is one of the indigenous games of the Tangkhul Naga community since ancestral times. The game pits the strengths of the two teams against each other and is featured in almost all the seasonal festivals observed in the region.
In a video which has gone viral on social media, tourists are also seen posing with local children dressed in colourful traditional attires.
According to reports, the team of tourists from Greece is on an expedition of the Northeast and, so far, have toured Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. They will also visit Mizoram before heading for Greece, reports said.
Luira Phanit, a traditional seed-sowing festival which is widely observed by the Nagas in Manipur, marks the beginning of the new cycle of agriculture activities and is considered to be one of the grandest festivals of the community.
The festival also invokes god’s divine blessings, locally known as ‘Ameowo’, for the crops to be cultivated in the year and to ensure a healthy harvest. (Eastmojo)
Guwahati: A hugely successful event, CelebratingEri-Muga & Folk Culture—Assam’s Pride and Passion-Season 2 was organized in Guwahati recently showcasing wide range of trendy Eri and Muga creations keeping in mind the growing market for organic fabrics. Heeya Heritage World– an NGO— founded to protect and propagate resources of the region like the endemic Muga and also the rights of the indigenous people associated with the Eri-Muga industry has been embarking on its journey for promotion of the organic fabrics. The members of group led by Mitali Boruah Bora, Mubina Ahtar and Jyoti Doley with collaboration from leading citizens and conservationists, have taken up the cause of indigenous weavers, more particularly women, to help in getting a market.
Apart from models walking down the ramp in trendy Eri and Muga creations, the signature event has become a much needed platform to discuss the threats and prospects attached to Assam’s handloom industry as well as a destination for the state’s tradition and culture.
The glittering event hosted by Debajyoti in Novotel in the city displayed various collections by four leading fashion designers from Assam along with performances of ethnic culture like Satriya and Bihu.
Designers Mitali Boruah Bora and Jyoti Doley have deep experience in creating range of traditional Eri and Muga dresses with contemporary look and natural dyes that not only caters to the young generation but appeal to a market outside the state and overseas. They were supported by two much-talented designers from the field Maloti Kropi and Pushpanjali Dutta. The event partnered by the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Assam, saw some breathtaking beautiful performances by renowned choreographer Uday Shanker and Rakesh Raj Boro in Satriya, Bihu performances in different ethnicities led by Tanvi Sharma, a devotional flute recital by the new talent Dilip Heera followed by a composition “Northeast Trip” in guitar by Akash Ehshaan.
Two Muga growers— Ms Hiramoni Kumai of Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and Bol Bahadur Chetri were felicitated by the organizers for their relentless work in the conservation and propagation of Muga. Both hail from Dimoria in the Kamrup district of Assam. Lauding their efforts, conservationist Mubina Akhtar said –“ I have travelled length and breadth of the region to study how extreme weather events have been destroying the silkworms that produce Assam’s famous golden silk. Silk production and weaving are intrinsically associated with indigenous culture of the Brahmaputra Valley. Climate change has posed serious threats to the livelihoods of indigenous people who are often highly reliant on the environment and natural resources. However, the plight of these people is often overlooked. Dying of this culture means livelihood of some millions–particularly women, youth, and indigenous communities—would be at stake in Assam. Heeya Heritage World’s objective is to make the voices of these vulnerable people heard to make a significant difference in policy decisions by bringing grassroots concerns to the notice of policymakers and help in actionable knowledge.”
The nationally-acclaimed actor Moloya Goswami led the lighting of the lamp ceremony along with danseuse Meghranjani Medhi, renowned journalists Pranay Bordoloi and Dileep Chandan, Director Handloom and Textiles Kabita Deka and . Lakhya Konwar, Member-Secretary Student and Youth Welfare who was the chief guest on the occasion hoped that the Chief Minister’s dream project –the Muga Mission would cater to the needs of the Muga growers of the State and help in rejuvenation of the sericulture sector.
Director, Cultural Affairs Bishnu Kamal Bora, Secretary Industries and Commerce Umananda Doley, Sunil Kumar Tandon CGM, SBI Nort East Circle and Dharmakanta Mili , Director , Sports and Youth Welfare also graced the occasion as guests of honour.
The first of two Sydney firework displays kicked off at 9.15pm local time with the second, bigger display going off at midnight.
Some communities have cancelled New Year’s fireworks celebrations, but Sydney Harbour’s popular display was granted an exemption to a total fireworks ban that is in place there and elsewhere to prevent new wildfires.
Speaking before the event, City of Sydney mayor Clover Moore told reporters: “Tonight we expect a million people around the Harbour and a billion people around the world to watch Sydney’s New Year Eve celebrations, which is Australia’s biggest public event.”
Responding to calls to cancel the event and reallocate the funding to fire-affected regions, Mr Moore said planning for the fireworks began 15 months ago, most of the budget had already been allocated and it would boost the NSW economy.
“Many of us have mixed feelings about this evening, but the important thing we take out of this is that we’re a resilient state,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.
Japan is also preparing for their New Year’s Eve celebrations and firework displays hours ahead of the UK.
In 2020, a project funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Green Climate Fund and Kiribati’s government brings hope of providing safe and climate-secure drinking water to the main island of Tarawa, which is home to most of the nation’s 110,000 people.
In Samoa, New Year’s Eve was more sombre than usual. While fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia, the end of the year was a time of sadness and remembrance
Families enjoyed warm weather and music to see in the new year at Christchurch’s Hagley Park.
More than 5600 measles cases were recorded in the nation of just under 200,000. With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named as its Person of the Year health workers who fought the outbreak.
“We have experienced extreme sadness and sorrow,” the newspaper said. “Since the first measles death, the pain has only deepened. But amidst much hopelessness and tears, we have also seen the best of mankind in this country’s response.”
This year’s New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks display, famously known for lighting up Hong Hong’s iconic skyline, has been cancelled.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board announced that it had made a last-minute decision to scrap the event and instead create a special New Year’s themed version of its daily light show.
e lotto will be drawn at midnight to keep people interested in the countdown to 2020.
The decision was made after organisers of Hong Kong’s protest rallies announced that a mass demonstration would be held to mark the first day of January.
Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off 2019.
Dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo – a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.
The annual tolling of the “peace bell” at Imjingak park near the border with North Korea was cancelled due to quarantine measures following an outbreak of African swine fever.
People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.
Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor.
Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, January 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.
“We have a new era and so I am hoping things will be better, although 2019 was also a good year because nothing bad happened,” said Masashi Ogami, 38, who ran a sweet rice wine stall at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, drawing a crowd of revellers.
Other stalls sold fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little figures and amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.
The first year of the new decade will see Tokyo host the 2020 Olympics, an event that is creating much anticipation for the capital and the entire nation.
“Let’s pass on the traditions to our children!” cheered the notice delivered to my doorstep. The black-and-white printed flyer informed the event details: “Mochi-making. Outside the Public Hall, Dec. 8, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.”
When I arrive at 8:25 a.m. on Sunday morning, the rice is already percolating away, threads of steam escaping from the sides of flat wooden boxes stacked three high and positioned over a small cauldron of boiling water.
The three island children are present, two of them running amok while their limp-limbed baby sister hangs from her father’s child harness. Of the 20 or so bystanders, not all are islanders. Friends and family have come over to Shiraishi Island from the mainland to join in the festivities, including a few more children, which makes a total of six under the age of 12. An army of a dozen island wives outfitted in white aprons formed the “women’s club,” on hand to shape the mochi rice cakes.
While the women crowd around a long tabletop shrouded in a thin film of rice flour, men of all ages hover around the steaming rice box contraption. When cued, two men lift the square racks from the top of the stack while another guy pulls out the bottom shelf and carries it to the waiting stone mortar.
These stone basins can be found outside of every house on our small island. With a long history of granite-mining here, our mortars are said to be of exceptional quality. So much so that brides would pack the family mortar, or usu, and take it with them when they married and left the island.
Now that the steaming cooked rice has been peeled from its mesh and transferred to the usu, four men stand poised with large wooden mallets to begin the mochi-tsuki (the pounding of rice to make rice cakes). With a grunt they start, each taking his turn to bring the hammer down to wallop the mass of rice in a sequence called yon-cho-gine (four mallets). The unbreaking rhythm of thuds was ensured by shouts of “yō, dokkoi!” Each wallop advances the glob to a stickier state while a referee on the side whisks water into the mix to prevent the mass from sticking to the wooden mallet heads.
“Do you pound mochi in your neighborhood on the mainland?” I ask some spectators. “Oh no,” one woman says. “We make it at home with a machine. It’s very convenient.”
I’ve never actually seen a mochi-making appliance but I imagine it is not quite the back-breaking proposition unfolding in front of us. After 15 minutes — and several changes of manpower to allow the mochi masons interim rests — the rice is gaining the consistency of mochi and, at this point, the referee sneaks his hands into the pure white mass to turn it over between the bone-crushing wallops.
When deemed ready, the weighty glutinous blob is carried by hand to the ladies around the table, who part it to form rice cakes so delicate they sit in the palm of your hand like a freshly laid goose egg. The mochi cakes are lined up in trays and some are sent to the public hall’s kitchen.
Another matron takes a tray to offer some of the globules to the spectators. Following close behind is another lady in a smock with a bottle of sake and communal cups for o-miki, a toast with the Shinto gods. After all, the process of making mochi is itself an offering to the gods.
Getting the kids involved
Meanwhile, the next pallet of steamed rice is taken from the bottom of the stack on the cauldron, separated from its mesh and dumped into the mortar. The hammers come down, but in time to a traditional mochi-pounding song that the participants struggle to remember. They laugh as they grapple with both strength and memory.
While the island only pounds mochi into cakes once for the new year holiday these days, in the past it was performed more frequently for all kinds of celebrations. People could be seen doing mochi-tsuki outside their houses before family celebrations such as when a child turned 1 year old and had to carry a large rice cake on their back — whether they could walk or not!
Another occasion to make the cakes is for mochi-nage, an inauguration rite when rice cakes are tossed from a new house into the crowd gathered in front of it, or from a new boat to those crowding the shore before the boat’s maiden voyage. I’m reminded of this as I stand talking to the local cargo ship captain as we reminisce about the mochi-nage ceremony for his own boat more than 20 years ago.
“It’s said that it’s good luck to have pregnant women attend the ceremony for a boat,” he tells me. It turns out that mochi is believed to help with milk production in lactating women and the cakes are also eaten by women after giving birth to help restore their health.
“Were there any pregnant women at your event?” I ask him.
“I don’t remember,” he replies with a loud and hearty laugh.
The junior high school kids are now attempting yon-cho-gine. Bereft of even the slightest refrain of a mochi song and too shy to grunt, theirs is a quiet affair as the mallet heads gently poof into the rice pillow. When the cake finally reaches its globby glutinous stage, an aproned woman appears from the kitchen carrying a basket of mugwort, known to be rich in calcium and iron, and tosses it into the mix. Gradually, the strands disappear into the glob, dying it a vivid green for o-mogi rice cakes.
With the transfer of the meanie greenie to the table, and the last pallet of hot steamed rice thrown into the usu, one of the elders, Tadashi Amano, takes the chance to teach his 7-year-old grandson, Minato, how to hold the mallet. As the child taps the rice with the head, the womens’ club distributes the special New Year’s holiday treat o-zōni: A hot vegetable broth with a rice cake submerged and semi-melted inside. O-zōni is a delectable, one-of-a-kind texture that can warm the heart on a cold winter’s day.
While nibbling away on a mochi rice cake, I can’t help but think this is a fitting way to welcome in 2020, the Year of the Rat.
Amy Chavez is the author of “Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do it Right and Be Polite!” (Stone Bridge Press).
The long shadow of the Citizenship Amendment Act failed to dampen the Yuletide spirit in Christian-dominated Nagaland. Christians, irrespective of denominations, celebrated the festival across the state with religious fervour and held special mass and feast.
After the midnight mass which was preceded by singing of carols, believers attired in new colorful dresses were seen attending special prayer services in various churches across the Christian majority state. This was followed by mass feasts as in other years. K Elu Ndang, general secretary of Naga Hoho, the apex body of tribal organizations in the state, said We condemn the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill which is posing a grave danger to the indigenous people of the region.
We feel insecure with enactment of the CAA but it has nothing to do with Christmas,” he said. Christmas is a relationship between Christ and believers. Therefore the passing of the CAA despite rigorous protests did not create much difference in the celebration in Nagaland, Ndang said.
Joshua Newmai, a member of the Nagaland chapter of North East Indigenous Peoples Forum said the people are against the CAA. “But it is a festival break and protests against CAA will resume after Christmas and New Year celebrations”. Protests against the CAA had rocked Nagaland on December 14 and a six-hour shutdown was called by Naga Students Federation.
Thailand’s Ministry of Culture on Monday announced that its committee responsible in promoting and conserving cultural heritage has resolved to nominate Songkran Festival to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This festival has been observed in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in India too for centuries.
The committee would subsmit the proposal to the cabinet for approval within next February and send it to UNESCO within the following month, said Thai Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome on Monday.
It should enter the listing process of UNESCO in 2022 at the soonest, the minister said.
Itthiphol said that Tom Yum Kung or Thailand’s spicy prawn soup would be nominated next.
He also said that UNESCO will consider Thailand’s nomination of “Nora, Dance Drama in Southern Thailand” as intangible cultural heritage in 2021.
Nora is a form of dance-drama performed mainly in the southernmost provinces of Thailand and the northern parts of Malaysia.
This month, UNESCO had already included Thailand’s “Nuad Thai,” traditional Thai massage in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
And because of this, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the culture ministry will organize special events to promote “Nuad Thai” from this month to next August, the minister said.
Sangken celebration is commended with intensity and energy in the Tai Khamptis, Singphoos and Tangsas Tikhaks possessed locale. It denotes the approach of the New Year and is commended in April. A celebration or affair is an occasion, normally and usually organized by a neighborhood group, which fixates on and commends some exceptional part of that group or a celebration.
A powerful first feature from Polish actor-turned-director Ewa Bukowska, 53 Wars charts the mental and emotional breakdown of a young Polish mother married to a thrill-seeking war reporter. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Grazyna Jagielska, this compact psychological thriller is chiefly an impressive showcase for its star Magdalena Poplawska, whose pent-up intensity dominates almost every scene.Ewa attended Guwahati International Film Festival in November 2019 and expressed her views and feelings to young journalist Bhavyashree Chivukuladuring an extensive interview
53 Wars is psychological a thriller of first-time director Ewa Bukowska’s and it’s about the post-traumatic breakdown of a woman triggered by her husband’s dangerous job.
A feature debut of the actor turned director Ewa Bukwoska, 53 wars (Poland) is a movie based on the traumatic struggle of the unvoiced victims of war. In an attempt to explain the nuances of emotional turmoil within the wife cum mother (Anna) whose journalist husband is often away in potentially dangerous war zones, the director has managed to depict the string of damaging mental health experiences in the woman. The psychological suspense thriller driven by the intense performance in the lead Anna (Magdalena Poplawska) was gripping to watch in every scene. While the movie has showcased different shades of sentiment from agony, and passion, the repressed emotions of constant anxiety for the uncertain news pave the way to destruction of the normalcy in Anna’s mind in turn impacting her life. The film also deals with the complexity of gender biased professional roles yet is an effortless watch with startling revelations at unexpected intervals.
In a visit to Guwahati International Film Festival (Giff) both the actor and director of the movie, Poplawska and Ewa discussed fragments of their experiences in India.
“The roots of Indian culture are very deep. The religious beliefs to the Indian society are a treasure and it is interesting to experience the depth of it,” says Ewa. On being asked about their perspective on Indian cinema, Ewa says.
“Recently, I watched a popular TV show on Netflix, “Delhi Crime” and that was a powerful series explaining the stigma and oppression towards a woman as well as the scenario attached to it.” “However, these problems are everywhere and it is not confined to one country. The intensity of the problems being faced by women is different in different places, so this is common to all of us. We watched two social issue centric movies, an Iranian and Spanish. The former showcased women’s problems on a different note but it was an eye opener too. The culture may be versatile but the issues are global and everywhere.” adds Poplawska.
“I am someone who believes in working on things which are natural to me not artificial. Every place, person or situation is a source and if it is original and makes me feel connected, I feel I found my story. There is a source in India; there is a source in Israel as well so it all is important to my soul and creativity. It flourishes with experiences” says the 8 times nominated movie maker Ewa. “The culture of India is so different and fascinating to me that the urge to understand it is more” adds Ewa.
On their weeklong day visit to Giff the 53 year old polish actor turned director was accompanied by panellists Roma Zachemba, Heiki Kujanpa, Noor Imran Mithu for an interaction on the Topic “Impact of Film Festivals in Propagating Film Culture”, where she expresses how the equilibrium of storytelling and direction for men and women should be alike without discrepancy. She feels that the movie should be watched for the content not the gender that qualifies it and it should be content driven and not gender driven. Accompanied by the 39 year old polish actress Magdalena Poplawska who is a 3 time jury choice award and best supporting actress, both the women have been able to establish the subtle connotations in the movie by dedication which intensifies the movie 53 wars.
“This has been our second time in India and is totally different. The first time we came to India was in the Goa International Film Festival, and we felt more touristic, and here it seems more sophisticated. We saw a few Indian art movies and were surprised – the art movies were great. Also it is good to see the youth being engaged in art house movies. The culture in Europe and India are vastly different,” says Ewa.
“In this kind of International film festivals, it is important to invite global art movies because commercial cinema will survive but art movies which are delicate do not seem to receive enough audience, and as art filmmakers we need to care about that. I watched a movie last night that had a great sense of humour and it is was the speciality of that movie. I hope we get to watch more,” says Poplawska on her feelings of the common dynamic behind global cinema.
“It was during the opening of Giff that someone mentioned that films have an immense and deep influence on us. This is beyond the border so it is never too much,” concludes Poplawska on being asked what kind of cinema she would look forward to watch. The polish actress Magdalena Poplawska has won three awards including two as best actress in the “New Classic Cinema Film Festival” and the “Polish Film Festival” and a nomination for the movie Between Two Fires (2012). The polish actress turned director has been nominated 8 times and was awarded the youth jury award for the “Koszalin Film Debut Festival Young and Film” which is the oldest and the largest young cinema festival in Poland. (First appeared in the Hills Times)
In a move that could upset China, the US Ambassador to India on Monday inaugurated the Tawang Festival in Arunachal Pradesh, becoming the second US envoy to visit the festival held in an area China claims to be part of South Tibet
US Ambassador to India Kenneth Ian Juster on Monday inaugurated the four-day Tawang Festival in Arunachal Pradesh, chief minister Pema Khandu tweeted.
He became the second US envoy to visit the festival held in an area China claims to be part of South Tibet.
Ambassador Juster thanked the people for the exceptional hospitality and added that he was mesmerized by the people of the area, their dresses and traditions.
The Tawang Festival is an annual event, which is in its seventh edition this year, and showcases the state’s rich cultural tradition and adventure potential in order to boost tourism.
In 2016, the then US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma had visited the same festival leading Beijing to oppose the trip while New Delhi termed it as routine.
At the inauguration, Juster informed the gathering about US funding in the health sector in Arunachal Pradesh that have helped modernize hospitals and health facility centres in Namsai and Pasighat.
In his address, Chief Minister Pema Khandu stated that Arunachal Pradesh was fortunate to have hosted two US Ambassadors within a span of three years.
Khandu, who was also the chief minister when Verma visited in 2016, sought support of the US embassy to attract investment to Arunachal Pradesh in tourism, agriculture, horticulture and hydropower sectors.
The CM informed about the work the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), a US agency which traces details of nearly 79,000 US soldiers, who served in the Second world War and were unaccounted for, was doing in the Northeastern state.
“Until now 20 aircraft have been identified and remains and personal belongings of five martyrs have been recovered and sent to families. A Hump museum is under construction and scheduled for inauguration in March 2020,” said Khandu.
The Hump, named by Allied pilots during the WWII, comprises parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Tibet and Myanmar, where nearly 650 aircrafts crashed during that war due to difficult flying conditions. Eighty one aircraft went missing in the region at that time.
Khandu also said that in the past three years only 336 US tourists visited Arunachal Pradesh and sought the embassy’s help to increase it 10 fold in the next two years.
Union minister for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is a Lok Sabha member from the state, lauded the Arunachal Pradesh government for successfully hosting the festival over the past years.