Assam Musical Adventure – April 2013

In April, Sound Travels headed to the luscious land of the mighty Brahmaputra river, to experience an explosion of music and dance in the north-eastern state of Assam.

We started with singing lessons with Probin Saikia and Roshmirekha

Singing lesson with Roshmi

After the lesson we were presented with our gamosas – traditional hand-woven scarves used as scarves or towels.

Group shot at Probin and Roshmi's

Then we visited music enthusiast Prasanna Gogoi and his incredible collection of Assamese instruments. He gave us all gogonas – bamboo mouth harps – and taught us how to play them.

Practising Gogona at Prasanna's

I tried out Prasanna’s proud creation: his adapted Veena – or local violin – fitted with ‘sympathetic strings’ like the ones you hear reverberating on a sitar, and give that unmistakably Indian sound.

Georgie learns veena

Then he brought on the Bihu dancers – wearing the traditional gold and red Mekhla Sadors that are symbolic of this time of year.

Bihu dancers at Prasanna's 2

We ate a traditional Assamese lunch, served in bronze bowls and cooked by Prasanna’s wife and the ladies of the house.

Lunch at Prasanna's 2

Next stop, after Guwahati, was the beautiful Kaziranga National Park

On safariWe saw Rhinos, Elephants, Water Buffalo and then… an incredibly rare sight in Kaziranga… a family of tigers! I didn’t get a good enough shot of the tigers… so here’s the famous One-Horned Rhino

Rhino in KazirangaFrom Kaziranga, we headed across the Brahmaputra to the magical river island of Majuli – where we met the dancing monks of Kamalbari Sattra (Monastry)

Monks at Kamalbari Sattra

We stayed in eco-huts, built ‘Mishing’ style – out of bamboo and on stilts. The Mishings are a dominant tribe in this part of Assam. They showed us their beautiful dance form, while we drank local rice-based beer.

Mishing dancersTheir Mekla Sador (traditional two-piece dresses) are made from hand-woven cotton. I love the rich colours of the Mishings.

Mishing dancers 2

We met an eighty-two year old dhol player – an oja – or master of drumming. His friend accompanied energetically on the tal (bell).

Oja and tal-player

The next morning, Angie and Jeff went Birdwatching

Jeff and Angie birdwatching


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