People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 52

December 28, 2003

 North East Youth Festival Shows Tribal Culture’s Vitality


WHILE a rush for return to the mainstream of democracy and development is reigning supreme among the war-weary misguided militants of the north-east region, Tripura hosted the fifth north-east tribal youth festival --- “Chokleng” that means a rainbow --- from December 13 to 15. This carnival of cultural activities, with the participation of youth from Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura, gave a fervent call for fostering harmony amid the region’s ethnic diversity and converting it into a united initiative towards peace, progress and prosperity in this backward region. Incidentally, the outlawed NLFT extremists of Tripura, who are camped in Bangladesh territory, are at present rebelliously raring to decamp with their arms and ammunitions with a view to surrendering to the administration in Tripura, while the BLT extremists in Assam laid down their arms en masse on December 6 with a view to eschewing insurgency once and for all.


Agartala, the state capital of Tripura, was radiant and resonant with the spirit of unity in diversity, as a replica of the country’s secular and democratic socio-cultural ethos, during the three days of the ‘rainbow’ extravaganza under the aegis of the state’s Left Front government. From 4 p m to 8 p m, the Umakanta mini stadium at Agartala became the venue of the heart-warming vitality and variety of tribal songs and dances, as also of the exhibition of various apparels and apparatus pertaining to the traditional life styles of the north-east tribals.


Prior to the inauguration of the festival through the lighting of a lamp and flying of balloons by the governor D N Sahay, a colourful procession of the youth from the participating states, in their traditional garments and with their traditional musical instruments, paraded through the main roads of the town and poured into a multicultural melting pot at the mini stadium. Each and every tribal community inhabiting Tripura found representation among the state’s youthful delegates participating in the festival. Although each community was clearly distinguished by its dress, dance and musical instruments, the keynote of all the cultural programmes combined the saga of the sweat and sweetness, the weal and woe of the tribals’ life and livelihood based on the economy of shifting cultivation. The festival thus brought a gush of fresh air to the large number of spectators thronging the three-day festival, away from the monotony of the self-centered licentiousness and lasciviousness of pop culture.


Addressing the inaugural programme on December 13, Jitendra Chowdhury, the state’s minister of sports and youth affairs, said that at a time when over eight crore tribals countrywide have been facing an identity crisis, this unique festival of about eighty lakh tribals of the north-east could not but strengthen their self-esteem and facilitate the conservation of their rich diversity through manifestation of their life styles and promotion of mutual understanding and intimacy among them. He voiced the hope that the cultural and ideological give and take among the youthful participants in this festival would go a long way in healing the scars of insurgency, defusing the ethnic tension and opening a new horizon of robust role of youths in the development of this region.


The state’s governor D N Sahay and minister of cooperation Khagendra Jamatia also spoke on the occasion, among others.


The festival came to a close on December 15 evening with a spectacular display of fireworks, illumination and the vigorous throb of the thousands of youthful souls amid splendid conglomeration or songs and dances as well as distribution of prizes to each participant. (INN)