(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Redefining Tourism: Festivals, Cuisine, and Music of Northeast India

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Redefining Tourism: Festivals, Cuisine, and Music of Northeast India


Redefining Tourism: Festivals, Cuisine, and Music of Northeast India


  • The Northeastern Region is home to over 200 different tribal and non-tribal ethnic communities belonging to different human races. It is because of this that the region has been often referred to as an anthropologists’ paradise. While human footprints in the region have been traced back to the Early Stone Age or Paleolithic Age, ethnologists have said that apart from the prominence of Mongoloids and Aryans, other races whose presence are confirmed in the Northeast include the pre-Dravidians, Eurasians, Austroloids, Alpines or Armenoids, Mediterraneans, Indo-Aryans, Irano-Scythians, and Negritos too.

Ethnic Festivals

  • Though every ethnic community in the Northeast has its own set of distinct cultural traits and festivals, not all have been able to promote them for the purpose of attracting tourists for various reasons. Those festivals that have been able to stand out or make a difference in the past couple of decades definitely include the Rongali Bihu festival of the Assamese, the Chapchar Kut festival of the Mizos, and the Wangala, or hundred drums festival of the Geros of Meghalaya, to name a few.

For The Taste Buds

  • Though each ethnic community has its own distinct cuisine and culinary tradition, it is only in the past two decades or so that ethnic food has become a favourite among tourists. The new generation tourism entrepreneurs of the region would say that the present-day tourist loves to taste all kinds of ethnic food. There was a time when foreign tourists looked for European meals and the domestic ones for typically Indian food like rice, dosa, and paratha. New-generation tourists appear to be not just mentally curious but also curious with their taste buds. 

  • In the Northeast, as every district or every tribe offers its own exclusive cuisine, tourists have begun to increasingly consider the region as a land of food festivals. While every state capital or district town has a number of restaurants offering ethnic cuisine, tourists are also served local cuisine in many tribal villages. 

  • With home-stay facilities becoming popular, tourists nowadays also get the opportunity to eat with the host family or host community, where ethnic food is the new catchline. 

  • In Mizoram, on the other hand, Chapchar Kut, the spring festival, has been brought out of the traditional village field to Aizawl, the state capital, to become the biggest festival to attract tourists to the tiny hill state. Celebrated in villages in mid-March after completion of their most arduous task of jhum operation (clearing the jungle by burning the studs), the Chapchar Kut festival centrally held in Aizawl draws huge crowds from all over. Tourists are particularly drawn by the thrilling Cheraw or Bamboo Dance, which is performed in unison by several dozen groups of young men and women to the beat of the khuang (drum), dar, darbu, darmang (different types of gongs), and seki (mithun horn), dancing amid the clapping of several sets of bamboo poles. 

Music All The Way

  • Shillong also has the distinction of being the Rock Capital of India, thanks to not just the best-quality locally made guitars but also some of the best guitarists in the country, like Lou Majaw. Immortalised by the legendary Bhupen Hazarika in several of his songs, Shillong is any day a city of music, with the largest crowd descending around Bob Dylan’s birthday celebrated in such a manner as if the Nobel Laureate had belonged to Meghalaya.


  • The new generation of tourists is not just leisure tourists. As pointed out by travel organiser Sarma, there is a growing interest among a sizable section of tourists, both domestic and foreign, to get into the details of a community’s culture, music, culinary habits, and tradition. The best thing about this category of tourists is that, unlike making a one-day trip to a wildlife sanctuary or religious shrine, they spend more time, preferring to live with the community. With home-stay facilities increasingly becoming popular among the younger generation of local entrepreneurs, tourists are not only spending more time in a location, but many are also coming back in another season to learn more of a particular ethnic community.



Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

Get The Gist 1 Year Subscription Online

Click Here to Download More Free Sample Material

<<Go Back To Main Page

Courtesy: Kurukshetra