Baukhungri Festival

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BTC Tourism Department Organised 4th Baukhungri Festival, 2016

The event was traditionally known as Baukhungri Hajw Gakhwnai (climbing of Baukhungri hill). However, since 2013, the Tourism Department of Bodoland Territorial Council organises the annual Baukhungri festival to promote tourism in the region as well as preserving and promoting age old tradition, indigenous games and food habits. Hence, organising cultural programmes, ethnic food festival, indigenous and adventure sporting events. The Bodos believe that the Baukhungri peak situated in Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary, only Protected Area for endangered Golden Langur in the world is sacred dwelling of Shibrai (a God) and number of other deities and so pay a deep reverence to this abode by climbing up the peak, making prostrations and offering to the Lord on the last Chaitra Sankranti day to bid farewell to outgoing year and welcome the New Year with hopes and aspirations for the best.

The Baukhungri peak got its name from princess Diplai, daughter of Kachary (Bodo) king Daukha. ‘Bau’ means offer & ‘Khungri’ means Princess in Bodo. One day princess Diplai was informed the most tragic news of the martyrdom of her lover on the hands of enemies. Princess Diplai was so deeply in love with the brave, prince of neighbouring kingdom that she could not bear to tolerate this shocking and tragic news. She climbs up a peak lamenting and calling for her lost prince and lastly she abandoned her physical being offering herself in the name of her beloved prince. Later the peak has been called as Baukhungri.

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During Hill Trekking

While visiting the Baukhungri festival site Nwlwbari village, it was understood that villagers are not happy with the festival. All the households’ of the village practices paddy cultivation in their own land. Their livelihood means for survival is dependent on agriculture. They live in a simple way of thinking in a sustainable life. In the time of festival they have to offer their agricultural land to install hotels, restaurants, space to conduct events, etc. However they receive remuneration for the same but it became a cause of degrading production which can not be compared with money. Apart from degrading production capacity of land, the pollutants such as plastics, bottles, papers and other solid waste materials from all the activities of the festival are creating various problems in their activities means for livelihood and natural resources. One farmer shared his experience that fishing in the area and cultivating on the land become dangerous due to existence of bottles. Even huge gathering of people creates problem in maintaining their livestock especially grazing of cattle. Their economy and literacy rate is very poor. Still in this survival of fittest condition of the world the village do not have single graduate person. Due to lack of economy and idea they can’t install a good shop such as restaurant and hotel. Even though it is installed, they have to compete with highly communicated or commercial hotel owners hence gaining less profit. According to villagers various social phenomena will be change in the area since selling alcohol is open in the festival. Commercialisation of religion in terms of installing temporary temple to attract visitors during festival is also another observation of the villagers. Apart from the villagers even staffs of Forest Department are also in deep senses about it. As per their observation the festival became a challenging issue in terms of biodiversity conservation. Such as use of non-degradable materials and crowded noise are not allowed inside Protected Area but the same is happening during festival.

The villagers’ expectation from the festival is popularity of the area and development in near future. The area has possibility to be develop by the tourism activities though the administration or Tourism Department did not take much effective strategies in the area. If it continues in the same strategy then the target to preserve the age old traditional activities of indigenous communities and promoting tourist destination will not be successful instead forest will be degraded and survival of inhabitants and local communities will become a thoughtful phenomenon.

Scope of Community Based Tourism in Bodoland

Observing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), United Nation World Tourism Organisation has launched the programme of Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) which was announced during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in the year 2002 and the programme has been practiced in many developing countries. ‘Sustainable Tourism’ also known as Community Based Tourism, Ecotourism and Responsible Tourism is a tool of conserving biodiversity and development of local communities’ socio-economic status as well as culture of the local communities can be promoted through it.

Scenic Beauty of Manas Biosphere Reserve

Scenic Beauty of Manas Biosphere Reserve

The Bodoland region is rich in natural resources, since large area of the region is covered with forest where varieties of valuable flora and fauna are available. The richness of natural resources of Bodoland is acknowledged by the Manas Biosphere Reserve which extends from the Sankosh River in the west to Dhansiri River in the east along the Himalayan foothills. It includes 2837 Sq. Km. area of which 500 Sq. Km. belong to Manas National Park a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. The entire Manas Biosphere Reserve has other two national status viz. Manas Tiger Reserve and Ripu-Chirang Elephant Reserve declared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. These statuses are given according to suitable habitat of Tiger and Elephant so that the long term conservation of these endangered wild animals can be done. Generally Manas Biosphere Reserve supports a total 60 species of mammals of which 22 are included in schedule-I and some are endemic to the area, over 300 species of birds, 36 reptiles, 7 amphibians and 543 species of plants.

Butterflies engaged in mud puddling at Chowki, Baksa

Butterflies engaged in mud puddling at Chowki, Baksa

The richness of natural resources and statuses of the region have given a major boost to promotion of community based tourism in the region, but the concept of generating economic benefits to local communities and also as a good instrument for generating local sup­port for conservation of nature is yet to happen. Properly planned long term community based tourism initiatives can integrate conservation of biodiversity with livelihood benefits of local communities and promoting culture of the region.

The local communities residing in and around the Manas Biosphere Reserve live in poverty and unstable economy. Even they are restricted in accessing natural resources from the forest though their source of livelihood dependent on it. However, effective implementation of the concept of Community Based Tourism can have an enormous impact on the lives of the local communities and those who depend on natural resources for their livelihood. Proper rules and regulation and effective policy needs to be put into practice to achieve the goals of Community Based Tourism.

The Indian Ministry of Tourism has been targeting to exploit unique tourism products like community based tourism in order to promote a 365 days tourist destination in the country and to overcome the problems of ‘seasonality’. In the year 2013, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India has been identified the Manas as Park Mega circuit/tourist destination including Orang, Nameri and Kaziranga. To encourage the stakeholders to promote and practice community based tourism, the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India has included categories of awards like, “Best Responsible Tourism Project”, Best Eco friendly Practices by Tour Operators” and “Best Eco friendly hotel” in the National tourism Awards presented annually to various segments of travel, tourism and hospitality sector. Even the Tourism Department of Bodoland Territorial Council is also targeting to promote tourism in the region over the years, mostly in the biodiversity reserves which is not effecting yet due to lack of proper planning and policies and responsible stakeholders.

बैथा

समनि आनदो आनदो दिंग्राय बोनाय मिजिंथिआ

सानसुमै गोसोआव बेरस्रां फैयो,

बोथोराआव गोजाव बोनाय रैसुमै रावजों

एंगार हायै थुलुंगा सोमजि होलांबाय।

गोथार जोनोमआव थ’ गैयामोन इयुन जोनोमनि दाहा-

नाथाय लांफा थार नांगोन बै रादाइखौ।

जेराव थायो अननाय मुलुगआ-

जेराव जाखां फैयो नोंनि खौरांआ।

आंनिनो आंगो महराव दङ-

सुबुंनि हाथासि सानबोलावरिआ।

सोगाबनो सोलोंआखैमोन, नाथाय बावगार लांनोबो हायाखै।

सौसि लांनाय बारआव मानोथो थायो साखाथि आव?

फोथाइथि दङ दाबो गेवलां गोरबोआव।