February 17, 2017

Vibrant attire, delectable dishes, innovative sports and rhythmic music and more.That was at the Xperience North East Festival in Bengaluru; an exploration of the culture and traditions intrinsic to the seven sister states and their brother.

Visitors were instantly immersed in cuisine, clothing and experiences that you can only find in the North East! And now apparently in namma Bengaluru.

For the residents of the hills, food is a religion to be celebrated. Everywhere you turned were innumerable stalls offering steaming momos , kebabs, chicken porridge, freshly baked buns, burgers, noodles and the varied cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura, and the Himalayan state of Sikkim.

Food is also a demonstration of love; “We cook for the ones we love, and enjoy the time we spend preparing, eating and sharing food,” said Urmila Chanam, who hails from Manipur and is General Secretary of Northeast Solidarity.

North eastern children in their traditional attire
North eastern children in their traditional attire
 

North eastern fashion; there’s no mistaking it! Vivid colours and indigenous fabrics are its two most important components. Manipuri women are frequently seen sporting the Innaphi, a typical Manipuri shawl, and the Phanek, which is a kind of hand woven wrap-around skirt. Traditional-wear Phaneks come in stripes and block colors. They were even selling Mekhla Chadars and Sarees made of Assam Silk.

Mekhla Chadar and Silk
Mekhla Chadar and Silk

“We believe that by propagating their exquisite fashion sense, this community can provide their native models with a platform to connect with the photographers and fashion designers in Bengaluru,” said Chanam.

What are states without their games and sports? Two games in particular were highlighted at this festival - Kalchhet (Bamboo Walk) and Kawi (a game of stones).

Visitors walking on tall bamboo stilts
Visitors walking on tall bamboo stilts
 
Kawi
Kawi

A cultural festival is incomplete without music; the music from this region is rich with distinct style and soulful lyrics. From their melodious classical folk songs to the upbeat rock performances, the performing bands covered the entire spectrum. Keen Frequency, The Vinyl Records, Distribution of Certification, Lilzo, Jambilli, Guru Rewben Mashangva and Girish and the Chronicles were a mesmerising experience.

Though not everyone could understand the lyrics, the music definitely struck a chord with everyone there.

Keen Frequency playing at the festival
Keen Frequency playing at the festival

Indrajit Kembhavi, a leading architect of Bengaluru said, “It’s nice to see an event like this as it exposes people to a variety of cultures and the vast influences of art.”

This event is not only a chance for the north eastern community to come together, but also to reach out to the people of Bengaluru and invite them to become a part of their rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Xperience North East Festival, a biannual event held at Ravindra Kalakshetra (courtesy of the Tourism department, Government of Karnataka, and Northeast Solidarity, an NGO in Bangalore), was the weekend’s destination of choice for Bangaloreans, and a fun way to bridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Text by Ankita Sarkar & Sudeshna Bardhan, Photos by Sudeshna Bardhan