The Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC), under the umbrella of the Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, was established in 1993 with its inspiration derived from the varied and colourful heritage of Northeast India. The organisation came into being with the avowed objective of study and research in this field and a mission to preserve and protect this bountiful national treasure. From its very inception VKIC has embarked on a mission of great significance, the principle features of which can be surmised as:
I To explore the specialities and uniqueness of the cultural heritage of Northeast India. II To unearth the unifying threads of cultural continuum that exist with the culture of greater India. It also aims to act as a binding spirit for the diverge socio-cultural traditions among the different tribes and group of people of Northeast region and achieve cultural harmony in this region in consonance with Bharatavars.
III To study the rich cache of traditions and rituals prevalent here and work towards promoting, preserving and protecting them.
With a sense of dedication, the VKIC, had from day one, started its crusade by launching a seminars covering each state of Northeast India and involving a good number of scholars from each of the states. The first of this series came to an end in mid 1998 with encouraging success. As the paper-presenters comprised scholars with extensive experience in their respective field, their dissertations naturally carried materials of rare academic value. As such, the Executive Council of VKIC resolved to compile them into one or more volumes and publish them for the benefit of students and researchers. This volume include papers presented by different scholars and educationists from the states of Arunchal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam. It is but natural that the articles, which widely differ in their subject-matter, as also in local terminology used, may carry discrepancy in their spellings and expressions. It will be appreciated if the readers point out the lapse that might have crept into this volume so that we can take appropriate measures to rectify them in our future prints.
Vivekanada Kendra Institute of Culture was established in 1993 in Guwahati under the aegis of Vivekanada Kendra, Kanyakumari. Our vision and goal have been to enlarge and pioneer the scope of research and documentation of the rich culture and historical heritage and evidence of the communities of Northeast India, and to unearth its commonalities with the larger Indian culture. We have also endeavoured to preserve these unique traditions, customs and heritage and bring them onto an accessible platform.
Since the tome of its inception, we have been organizing several seminars, demonstration-lectures and research projects which have been much appreciated and well received both by scholars and the general public. We had organized a series of seminars tiled “Traditional customs and rituals of Northeast India” where each state from the Northeast was represented by erudite scholars and talented cultural ambassadors. The papers and addresses presented in this series have been compiled into two volumes of work. The first volume was published to a well-received audience. Continuing our efforts we now present before you the second volume of this compilation. This covers the states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and a second seminar on Arunachal Pradesh.
We sincerely hope this compilation is fruitful step forward in helping to preserve and disseminate the uniqueness of this beautiful land to a wider audience and encourage its preservation.
This volume titled “Traditional Customs and Rituals of Northeast India’ is complied out of some of the papers presented in the series of seminars of the same theme organised by Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC), Guwahati, since 1993 to 1998. A total of ten seminars were held under this series covering the seven states of Northeast India. The papers of the seminars were presented by eminent scholars having vast experience in their respective fields of research and were found to carry materials of deep academic interest. As such, the Executive Council of VKIC resolved to compile them into volumes and publish them after necessary revisions.
Initially, copies of all the papers were sent to the respective scholar for additions and revisions on the discussions held on the floor of the seminars. But only a limited few responded in spite of reminders. It is, therefore, very much possible that the publication carries some mistakes, which we hope to rectify in our future prints.
While organising these seminars, VKIC did not set any guideline to the contributors on the presumption that they were having their in depth study on the topic on which they presented their papers. But during compilation of the present volume, it was felt that some of the passages needed some editing to make them more expressive. However, the opinion expressed in the papers are explicitly the opinions of the writer and VKIC does not have anything to comment on their relevance of authenticity.
The articles of the ten seminars have, as advised by the Research Council, been arranged into two volumes, this being Volume I. Out of ten seminars, the present volume contains papers from five seminars only. The papers from each seminar including the keynote address are included in one chapter. Moreover, chapterisation of the papers are not made strictly chronologically, to bring about a balance in topics for the two volumes. A chapter-wise detail of Volume I along with a resume’ of each paper are given below for the benefit of the readers.
This is the second and last volume of the book titled “Traditional Customs and Rituals of Northeast India” which has been compiled out of the papers presented in the series of seminars organized on the same theme by Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC), Guwahati. The seminars covered a period from 1993 to 1998 and they were organized state-wise by invoicing scholars from the states of Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, as also a second seminar on Arunachal Pradesh.
As stated in the preface to Volume I, the papers included in this volume also were sent to the respective presenters for reviewing them in the light of the discussions held during the course of the seminar; and some of them have complied with our request. However, all the papers have been thoroughly proof-read by us with minimal edition which was found indispensable to keep parity with the very objective of the seminar. In any case, the views of the writers have not been touched as far as possible.
The writers have prepared the papers on the basis of their firsthand knowledge on the respective topics and it is supposed that their write-up are based on their wide study and research. As such, the facts expressed by them are exclusively their own and this institute is not competent to comment on their relevance or authenticity.
This volumes contains all total five chapters and each chapter contains papers from one seminar, including the keynotes address. As the seminars were organized on particular dates, and in addition to the technical sessions, include inaugural and valedictory functions, a chapter-wise note is given below primarily to acknowledge the selfless co-operation of the distinguished guest.
The first chapter of this volume contains papers from the seminar titles “Archaeological of Northeast India’ and covers an overview of the archaeological aspects of the states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Held on 19 March 1995, the seminar was inaugurated by Dr S P Gupta, the erstwhile Director of the Allahabad Museum. In his speech, Dr Gupta observed that archaeological investigations are indispensable for compiling a comprehensive history of Northeast India and opined that exploration and excavation in prospective archaeological sites. The seminar was also attended by Shri A Balakrishnan, the then General Secretaty of Viviekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, who spoke about the objectives and functioning of VKIC. Shri Atulananda Goswami conducted the seminar as its moderator.
The topic of the seminar of the second chapter was “Traditional Customs and Rituals of Arunachal Pradesh”. It was held at Itanagar on 11,12 January 1997 and was inaugurates by Shri Doi Ado, Hon’ble Minister for Education etc. Arunachal Pradesh-Shri G Vasudev, Former General Secretary of VK, Kanyakumari, was also present in the inaugural session who called upon the Arunachalees to safeguard at any cost their age-old socio-cultural heritage. The welcome address was presented by Dr Taram Begi, Chairperson, VK, Arunachal Pradesh. The valedictory function was attended by Dr T Nyori, the then Controller of Examinations, Aruanachal University and Shri G Vasudev. Shri Atulananda Goswami served as the moderator of the seminar.
The third chapter contains papers from the seminar titled “Traditional Customs and Rituals of Tripura” which was organized at Guwahati on 28 June 1997. The chief Guest, Shri J N Bhuyan, the then Director, Historical and Antiquarian Studies, Assam, inaugurated the seminar by lighting the auspicious lamp. In his speech, Shri Bhuyan emphasized the need of organizing such seminars in view of the damaging impact of modernization on the varied communities of Northeast India and conveyed his thanks to VKIC for undertaking such ventures. Shri Atulananda Goswmi was the moderator of this seminar who had summarized the papers and observed that he could find similarities in almost all the major thoughts and beliefs of the different communities of Tripura with the people of the rest of our country.
The fourth chapter includes papers from the seminar titled- “Customs and Rituals of Nagaland” which was held in Guwahati on 9 November 1997, in which some scholars from the state of Nagaland had participated. The chief Guest of the seminar was Prof. J N Phukan, Visiting Profssor, NEHU, Nagaland, who inaugurated the seminar by lighting the lamp. In his inaugural address, Dr Phukan gave an overview of the mosaic of different cultural communities of Nagaland and referred to their social, culture and economic lifestyle. The Guest of Honour was Shri A Balakrishnan and the keynote address was presented by Dr A Patton. The seminar was conducted by Shri Atulananda Goswami.
The seminar for the state of Mizoram on the same topic was held on 27, 28 May 1998, and the papers from this seminar are included in the fifth chapter of this compilation. Shri L B Thanga was the Chief Guest for the session who also presented the keynote address. The moderator of the seminar was Shri Atulananda Goswami. A special attraction of this seminar was a cultural show presented by a troupe of artists from Mizoram who demonstrates their traditional rituals and usages including performing arts and indigenous music.
We acknowledge with a sense of gratitude the trouble taken by Su Nivedita Bhide, VP, VK, Kanyakumari, for going through the volume with meticulous care and pointing out the typographical and other discrepancies. Our thanks are also due to Shri G N Bhuyan, former Director of Archaeology, Assam and a member of Research Council, VKIC, who took the painstaking job of improving the texts of the papers where required and going through the proofs of DTP compositions thoroughly. Last, but not least, we record our appreciation to Ku Daisy Saikia, Balen Kalita and Basanta Bora for preparing the texts with every care for printing.
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