Majuli, known as the biggest river island in Asia, is actually a place to understand the culture and living of a primitive yet civilized tribe – “Mishing”. Located at the middle of The Brahmaputra, Majuli offers a beautiful sunrise and sunset on the river, also green wetlands mixed with small villages and a lot of tribal cultures. “Satras” or monasteries, another cultural attraction at Majuli, were constructed by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva who also was the founder of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture, initiated around 15th century.
The Mishing or Miri are an ethnic group inhabiting in some parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. They belong to greater Tani people community originated in Tibet. All Mishings trace back their root to Abutani or Abo Tani (The first man on earth) like any other Tani tribes. The Mishings belong to a mixture of East Asian as well as Southeast Asian subrace of the Mongoloid race. There is no written history of Mishings about their migration from hills to the plains of Assam. Mishings organise themselves broadly into two clans or groups, Pegu and Doley. There is a strange ritual to allow only inter-clan marriage, that means a Pegu partner can only marry a Doley one. There are others interesting rituals among Mishings. One such ritual which has almost become extinct is, before marriage, prospective groom has to work as servant in girls house for minimum six months. This practice has almost become extinct after education has spread in Mishing society. Their chief festival is Ali-Ayé-Leegang, in the month of February. They also observe Assamese Bihu during mid April and Ras during November. Mishing language belong to Indo-Tibetan group of languages. Mishing language uses the Roman script. Literacy rates of Mishing tribe is quite high.
The nearest railhead to Majuli Island is Jorhat. From the station it is nearly one hour by rickshaw to Neamati Ghat where the ferry starts. The boat ride takes another hour. On Majuli you can again hire a car. It is also possible to take a car on the ferry.
Majuli is flooded every year during the months May-August. The best time to visit Majuli would be between Oct-March. The Monks can be visited at their “Satras” or or monasteries constructed by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva who also was the founder of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture, initiated around 15th century.
Accommodation at Majuli
Eco-Camp Me: Po Okum (Happy House) (spelled like mepo-okum) is a very basic bamboo-built stay run by a Mishing family at Majuli. It looks like a group of traditional huts around a small mustard field. It has separate cottages attached to basic western toilets. The cottage and supplies are basic, we recommend travelers to bring their sleeping bags in winter. Mosquito repellent must be carried in all season.
The food served at Me: Po Okum is fabulously traditional. There are delicious red rice, with basic dal and veggies, traditional items like bamboo chicken, fish soup, baked catfish.
As Me: Po Okum is run by a Mishing family, you get a chance to understand their culture, cuisine and living by interacting with the owners.
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