AI2_9_2017_8_37_49_PM_Majuli_MainImage.jpg

Colour Journey: Exploring the magic of Majuli Island with Zishaan:A world traveller and adventurer at heart, follow Zishan as he unravels the mystic lure of Majuli

AI2_9_2017_8_37_49_PM_Majuli_MainImage.jpg
Showcase 01 Jan 2017

Colour Journey: Magic from Majuli Island; a day in the life of a Majuli Island natives

Juxtaposing the splendor of travel with splashes of art; Colour Journey weaves a motley of narratives to take you on an expedition through the hues of our country. Navigate the plains and plateaus to see a kaleidoscope of crafts comes alive – from scattered work desks to brightly coloured homes..

Colour Journey: Exploring the magic of Majuli Island with Zishaan:A world traveller and adventurer at heart, follow Zishan as he unravels the mystic lure of Majuli

Greeted by little children running around open lush fields with rice seedlings in their hand as river Brahmaputra washes around the banks injecting the air with a gentle breeze and feeling of calm. Muted browns, determined greens and vivid reds dot the path to Assam’s Majuli Island.

Recently recognized as the biggest river island in the world, Majuli’s magic comes from the seamless blend of 16th century folk tales that have travelled and evolved through the years. Cycling away from the fields, locals flock to Dariya Par, to witness and revel in the effervescence at Majuli Mahotsav (a grand festival).

A few steps away, Gumrag folk dancers from the Mising community are preparing themselves for an act as onlookers watch, intrigued and impatient to dance to the thumps of the dhol. Draped in red, the dancers make their way to a handmade bamboo stick stage, just a glimpse into the importance given to craft at Majuli Island. Bamboo weaves its way into musical instruments, homes and fishing equipment, as artisans work on the loom to make the gamchcha (a thin coarse cotton cloth), an integral part of their culture.

But there’s more to Majuli than children wrestling on the crisp grass and markets filled with beautiful handicrafts. Telling tales of children wandering, plucking tea and fishing by the lake, is an important part of the shared experience for locals and tourists in Majuli Island. From sculpting earthen pots out of the clay next to the river, to making masks with layers of material from bamboo, clay and paint; artisans bring materials from their land to facilitate their art.

The sound of cymbals and melodious chants drifts through the air, padding the island with an inherent sense of tranquility. The hub of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture, Satras (monasteries) constructed by 15th century saints with mud floors and long corridors, are still home to young boys who spend their days singing bhajans (a devotional song) and praying in the simple white attire they adorn. Auniati Satra is home to 550 young bhakts practicing celibacy and Dakhinpat Satra is famous for its Raasleela: a dance performance representing picturesque stories of Lord Krishna’s life.

A 25-year-old weaver has been weaving since the age of 15. Another young woman belonging to the Hira community creates pottery without the wheel. A mask artist sits outside his home surrounded by a string of rich colours, adding the final touches to his masks based on mythological characters. While there’s no singular occupation that the locals turn to, they use a combination of agriculture, weaves, pottery, masks and fishing to take home bread and butter. From the spirit of the locals to keep the shrinking island going, even as Brahmaputra takes giant bites everyday, to welcoming their days with splendor and colour, full of life and love for their land, there’s something to learn for everyone from Majuli.

Winding through turbulent waters and calm days alike, children continue fighting imaginary demons and wrestling on freshly watered grass as the elders continue battling the real unending dangers of a vanishing habitat. But stringing everyone living on Majuli Island are the bouncy yellow mustard fields to wash away the blues, and a desire to carry forth their fertile land and plush cultural legacy.

Photographer: Zishaan Latif
Majuli Island was part of the expeditions of Season 1 of Colour Journey. There have been 4 successful seasons of Colour Journey since. For all the stories of this Season, visit https://www.asianpaints.com/colourjourney/season1