Northeast seems to have caught up the ‘national’ imagination. Recently Pravasi Bhariatiya Divas and Cultures of Peace was where the long neglected and ‘non-mainland’ part of Mother India was under spotlight. Today it was the turn of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), New Delhi to play host to the varied colours of the eight northeastern states.
The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is a part of a worldwide lay ecumenical movement, established in London in 1844, uniting people, irrespective of caste, colour or creed and to work for the enhancement of mind, body and soul to foster love, peace and justice all around us. The New Delhi YMCA came into existence in 1927 and since then has been serving the society through multifarious programmes in the fields of sports, education, cultural and religious activities etc.
From the lively stage performance of young girls and boys from Arunachal and Nagaland to the delicious thupkas and momos, the venue wore a bridal look. The festival began with the traditional lighting of lamp and was followed by song and dance performances amid the aroma of northeastern delicacies all around.
“Northeast has a very rich heritage. We wanted to do this northeast fest as a peace machine to develop brotherhood, oneness, friendship and goodwill through showcasing their traditional heritage, dance, culture, food and costumes”, YMCA Department of Tribal and cultural Affairs head and Public Relations Officer Aloke Michyari told iSikkim.com. On being asked, how participants from all the northeastern sates were roped in, he said, “We requested all the resident commissioners for the same and the response has been overwhelming.”
The Department of Cultural and Tribal Affairs (DoCTA) of the New Delhi YMCA is one of the major departments, dedicated to work extensively for spreading the message of national integration and endavouring to promote the rich cultural heritage of India. In this direction, The State Festival is an annual event of DoCTA, in which the Cultural Heritage of one or more states of India is portrayed. The DoCTA has so far organised two State Festivals, celebrating the culture and heritage of the states of Kerala and Goa in the year 2008 and 2009, respectively. On the same lines, this year, the DoCTA has organised the State Festival for all the eight states of northeast India.
In the day long programme, New Delhi YMCA brought together various groups and showcased the rich tradition and heritage of each state by presenting its food, music, handicrafts, traditional dance competition, tourism information etc. of all the northeastern states i.e. Assam, Arunchal, Mizoram, Meghalya, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim and Tripura. Also, through the event at the New Delhi, YMCA endeavoured to publicise the diverse and rich culture of northeast India, besides promoting harmony and homogeneity amongst all people. The New Delhi YMCA provided space/stalls for display as well as sale of the different kinds of handicrafts and food items of the respective states.
The above event is the first of its kind through which all the states of northeast India have showcased and shared their rich culture and prolific talents with the rest of Delhi and NCR. Talking about the future plans of YMCA focusing northeast, Mr. Aloke Michyari said, “We believe that tribal issues need to be supported from such forums. Northeast is predominantly tribal in nature. We had a seminar in November last year on identity of Tribals of India. As a sequel to that we are going to organise another similar event in March. We have an event on northeast on 27th of February as well. The national council of YMCA might plan more such events in northeast in near future.”