Assam

Unspoken Story Of Bodoland You Never Heard Before


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We read few stories, live few, believe few, and have never heard of others. I am going to tell you about an unspoken story that I have witnessed. The unspoken story of Bodoland you’ve never heard before.

Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), or Bodoland for short, is a set of four districts that form an autonomous administrative unit in the extreme north on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, within the state of Assam, Northeast India, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. The region is predominantly inhabited by the indigenous Bodo people. The official map of Bodoland includes four districts of BTAD recognised by the Government of India. ” – Wikipedia

 

 

The Boundary Between Us

I walked barefoot on the soft white soil, stopping for some time and then to admire the surreal beauty of the forest behind me and the dazzling shadow of the mountains in front of me on the crystal-clear river. The sun was about to set on the other side of the mountain, and the river acted as a border between two countries, India and Bhutan. As the gentle waves stroked me, I was continuously chatting with her, a beautiful lady in her thirties wearing a traditional Assamese dress called dokhona. Standing in the middle of the water, balanced on the rocks, she asked me, “Where am I now?” India or Bhutan?

The Unseen Side Of Bodoland

It was ten past seven, and the village was as silent as the night. The mixture of wildflowers and wet black soil had an appealing earthy aroma. I was sitting on a bamboo-made chair on the lawn of the mud house, and she sat just a campfire ahead. Our laughter and chitchat suddenly stopped when the sound of a Bihu tune begrudgingly moved towards us. Durga, her name, poured some local rice beer into my empty glass and asked, “Do you find this place unsafe for the world?”

 

I was so engrossed in the tune and the taste of Zarwo (silkworm fry), it took me a while to understand her meaning, and why not? My entire perception of these indigenous people and the locality changed the first time I stepped into these lush green paddy fields surrounded by bamboo trees. I didn’t answer her question because I wanted to thank myself for not listening to my friends and family, who had either never heard of this place or had different opinions. According to the media, the name Bodoland was taken with scepticism because of the violent confrontation created by the tribals and the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Life is not easy anywhere, but how we live our lives matters. I murmured to myself as I looked at her and the darkness where electricity is a luxury, “Give them a reason to smile; give them a reason to live.”

 

Mankind And The Survival

We began the morning while breathing fresh air in the middle of Manas National Park and enjoying a ride on an elephant. The same afternoon, I found myself wandering around the Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society, where rhino poachers have now become protectors. These people left their good jobs because of the education they got from local NGO organizations, and I felt good that they were trying to maintain social responsibility. By the time we finished our pitha (rice grain dessert) and laal cha (jaggery black tea), I had learned about many people who had been killed by over 100 animals and are now protecting them, building roads, strengthening houses, and educating the next generation about the importance of biodiversity. ( Read more about these poachers here )

 

My next stop was my reason to visit the place: a local festival called Dwijing. The festival drew me in with its vibrant projects while transporting me to another world. I was an onlooker, and their workmanship and diverse exercises lured me to an ever-increasing extent. Durga explained about Dwijing, the River Festival, where the Bodo tribes come together to promote river tourism and provide a livelihood opportunity for local people. Started in 2016 with the name “Aie River Festival,” it later changed its name to “DWIJING” to showcase the river “Aie” and its importance. The festival was geared toward the tribe, but travellers were welcome to join.

 

 

Read More about Dwijing Festival Here

 

Simplicity And Behavior: Are We Searching For It?

I spent my week with the Bodo people in the village and witnessed the simplicity and hardships borne by the villagers. There is no electricity, it is difficult to get to hospitals and schools, it is difficult to earn a living by collecting firewood, fishing with locally made Jakoi and Khaloi (bamboo sticks), weaving on the loom, and dealing with social issues.

Bodoland

 

Part of me wanted to stay. It’s not easy to come back to the same city as the rat race. It’s difficult to forget those smiles, the toxin-free air, the river, the local food, the heartfelt welcome, and the place where I saw black and white soils coexist; I’m still captivated by the safe sunset in between wild.

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42 thoughts on “Unspoken Story Of Bodoland You Never Heard Before

  1. what a life and thought provoking pictures they are .I love the way you narrated your feelings out of this place . Definitely worthwhile to visit such offbeat and not so touristic popular places in order to promote sustainability and awareness. Well Scripted !!

    1. Aww the place looks very peaceful and people look contented. I’ve been to some tribal areas before and yes, electricity is considered a luxury.. but if food is delicious and clean air is abundant, then I have nothing to complain.

      I also remember one time in the border of Thailand where a tribe spoke a chinese dialect and some don’t even have a Thai ID even if they are born in Thailand because the borders in these countries are their homeland and they move in between so it’s like they are stateless or does not belong to any country. Maybe they have a similar scenario in that area.

      The video will be much appreciated if the narrator spoke in English though. I have been to the North of India too but just in Darjeeling 🙂

  2. Wow..Awsome.Speechless after reading this beautiful experience.Your words mesmerized me and took me at Bodoland. Beautiful description.
    Thanks

  3. Like they say the journey is more important than the destination I would say that it feels true from your pictures and blog. I want to embark on a journey like this very soon.

  4. I never knew about this place. . Thanks for sharing… I always heard about the simplicity of the north east, and your experience adds to it.. it surely Worth’s a visit

  5. I must admit, I have never imagined this beautiful side of Bodoland. I hope to visit it some time.

  6. We visited sikkim 2 years back and so I could see what serene landscape and vivid culture you are talking about!wonderfully detailed blog!

  7. Travelling always makes you enter a new world and gives you insight of other part of the world which you never ever experienced before. By the way loved pictures of sunset by the riverside :). Do keep exploring and sharing such lovely experiences with new places each time

  8. Wow, those were some really touching untold stories of Bodoland.
    Reading this has made my resolve to go there even stronger.

  9. Its such a beautiful and heart touching story.. Really like the way you have penned it down

  10. Such beautiful memories from Bodoland. It is truly an untouched beauty of India. I loved the Manas and the stories it had to tell. Very good post and pictures Pamela.

  11. Hi Pamela,

    This is the second post I’m reading about North East.

    I am in awe of the people there. Right from their fashion sense to their weather.

    Also, the first image of yours reminded me of my visit to Dawki! It was epic.

  12. I am planning to visit Bododland soon once the crises get over. Looks like a beautiful place. The culture, dressing, people, all look so attractive. Putting in my ‘To Go’ list.

  13. Wow it’s one of the heaven on Earth away from all the pollution and stress.. definitely going to visit Soon

  14. Bodoland has a very strong bond with nature and like an innocent child asks a question about security and safety to the gizmo world.

  15. Really superb blog about the Bodoland, Looks like dream place.
    I really want to visit here.

  16. This is an interesting read. Sorry to hear about the hardships of the people but I am glad that there are able to get by.

    I can totally relate when you say its not easy to come back to the city as the rat race. Sometimes that simplicity in these remote areas in the very thing that we need.

  17. It’s so well written and informative article. I heard some about Bodoland during three of my visit to India. But I had no chance to visit this Northeast India area by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. It’s beautiful that you had an opportunity to meet the indigenous Bodo people, their culture, food, and customs. It’s a less touristic, rea off-beat destination.

  18. How fascinating it must have been to spend a week with the locals in Bodoland and really see what it was like to live there. As you told your tale I felt like I was there with you feeling the breeze. Great to share these stories to inspire others to follow you off the beaten path.

  19. Bodoland sounds like such an interesting place. I’m glad that folks are turning around the animal situation and learning from the past. The festival sounds fun, too!

  20. I’ve never heard about Bodoland before. I’m glad that you write about them. But I hope they prepared well for the tourists that soon will come to their land.

  21. Your experience and story on the Bodoland is very emotional and inspiring at the same.
    We get to know more about these indigenous people when we get up close and live in their environments in the laps of nature and taste local food and learn more about their cultures. I like the way you said ” give them a reason to smile, give them a reason to live.” These people know how to survive inspire of all the obstacles in their lives and earn a living by traditional occupations like weaving and fishing.And it’s inspiring how poachers left illegal work and are involved in protection of wildlife and infrastructure development.

  22. What a fascinating land. Indeed, life is not easy anywhere, it’s how we live it that matters. It’s so interesting to read that the poachers have turned around and now are protecting the animals they used to kill. What a story that is!

  23. First time I hear or read about Bodoland, the border region between Buthan and India. But it sounds like a fascinating place to visit. It seems they set up a good NGO program there, where tourists can really learn about the community and the traditions. I also love that they succeeded in employing the former poachers to protect the wildlife!

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