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Assam

Assam

Assam has been aptly described by some as ‘the Shangrila of the North-Eastern India’ – a state having breathtaking scenic beauty, rarest floras and faunas, lofty hills, lush tea gardens, undulating plains, mighty waterways, dense forests, fertile valleys, etc.

The economy of the state is overwhelmingly agricultural and about 75% of the population directly or indirectly depends on this sector for their livelihood. Rice, fruits, aracanut, jute, sugar cane, and tea are the chief agricultural produce of the state. The state also produces nearly half of the country’s total output of tea. he state is rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, and limestone.

The perfect fusion of heritage, tradition, faiths, and beliefs of numerous races has resulted in many festivals in the state. The main festivals of Assam are the ‘Bihus’ which are celebrated all over the state by every one with great pomp and grandeur. The most colourful amongst the three ‘Bihus’ is the spring festival known as Rongali Bihu.

Nature has abundantly blessed Assam with charming sights and exciting natural scenery. Kaziranga National Park and Manas Sanctuary are the chief tourist centres famous for Royal Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinos and golden langur. The other attractions of the state are the famous Kamakhya temple near Guwahati, Umananda temple, Navagraha temple, Kareng Ghar, Rang ghar, Talatal Ghar, Majuli island, Jatinga, etc.

Assam is the meeting ground of diverse cultures. The people of the enchanting state of Assam is an intermixture of various racial stocks such as Mongoloid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian and Aryan. The Assamese culture is a rich and exotic tapestry of all these races evolved through a long assimilative process. The natives of the state of Assam are known as "Asomiya" (Assamese), which is also the state language of Assam.

The state has a large number of tribes, each unique in it's tradition, culture, dresse and exotic way of life. Diverse tribes like Bodo, Kachari, Karbi, Miri, Mishimi, Rabha, etc co-exist in Assam, most tribes have their own languages though Assamese is the principal language of the state.

A majority of the Assamese is the Vaishnavas (a sect of Hinduism). The Vaishnavas do not believe in idol worshiping and perform Namkirtana where the glory of Lord Vishnu is recited. The two important cultural and religious institutions that influence the cultural fabric of Assam: the Satras, the site of religious and cultural practice which have been in existence for over 400 years and and the Naamghar, the house of prayers.

Other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc. are also practiced in Assam. The national festival of Assam is the Bihu which is celebrated in three parts during a year with great pomp and grandeur by all Assamese, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Villagers generally associate on the basis of membership of a local center of devotional worship called "Naamghar". Villages are usually made up of families from a number of distinct castes. In Assam, the caste system, although it exists, is not as prominent as in other parts of India.

Bengali-speaking Hindus and Muslims represent the largest minorities, followed by Nepalis and populations from neighboring regions of India.

Weaving is one traditional craft that every Assamese woman takes pride in. The Assamese women produce silk and cotton clothes of exquisite designs in their looms. Assam is renowned for its exquisite silks namely Eri, Pat and the world famous Muga silk. Gandhiji complimented the Assamese weavers as artists who could weave dreams in their looms.

Handloom Weaving is a way of life and intensely linked with Assamese Culture and Heritage. Handloom Industry of Assam is known for its rich tradition of making handloom and handicraft products. It also plays a very important role in the socio-economic development of the State. Assam is a proud owner of more than 13.00 lakh looms out of the total 28.00 lakh looms in the country. In spite of being intensely connected with the culture of the State, the Handloom Industry has not flourished in commercial sphere to the required extent. At present about 2.80 lakh looms are being utilised for commercial weaving in the true sense. About 5.70 lakh looms run semi-commercially and earning subsidiary income. Rest are domestic looms and are run to meet the domestic requirements.

Assam is the home of several types of silks, the most prominent and prestigious being muga, the golden silk found exclusively in this state. The main centre in Assam for silk-weaving is Sualkuchi. The texture is delicate, with dainty designs and natural colours. Sualkuchi is a medieval town and was perhaps the first urban settlement in Assam.Sualu is the tree from which the leaves are fed to the Muga Silkworm Antherea assama; and Kuchi means cluster. Every household in Sualkuchi is involved in the silk trade. Before the advent of cheap calico textiles, silk (either raw or wrought) was an important article of  production.

 

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