A day in a Garo village by Balipara Foundation Team
On 4th of December 2016, Mr. Ranjit Barthakur along with the BTFF team members experienced a village life of three tribal communities which are Garo, Nissi, and Bodo tribe. The team was first guided to Sengelimari Garo Gaon by Mrs. Eliza Boro, a member of Mahila Shakti Kendra and owner of Saneki at NaturenomicsTM Bazaar. There they met Mrs. Sushila Sangma, widow of a late army officer. The team explored her home garden where they found a large variety of trees including orange, black pepper, pineapple etc. The team was impressed by the infrastructure made for grain storage and poultry.
The team then headed to No. 1. Phuloguri Nissi Gaon as guided by Mr. Dhurbo Jyoti Das, a member of Mahila Shakti Kendra, where Mr. Barthakur enjoyed a bike ride along with the local people of the village. In this village of Nissi community, the team went to the traditionally designed household of Pere Samkung. There the team sat inside the chang ghar and discussed about the issues of the villages. The village is rich in orange and pineapple cultivation but there is only a small scale marketing of the products. Mr. Barthakur asked the villagers to supply the products to Wild Mahseer. He also suggested starting a cultural tourism business in the village. Mrs. Eliza Boro informed them that there is no male person in the village as all of them had gone out to places outside Assam for job, instead of having a valuable asset on their hands i.e. land which can be used for cultivation.
From there, the team headed towards the riverside in Garo Gaon, where they met Mrs. Mainu Marak, a lady actively involved in conservation activities. She was the only lady who initiated the action to stop the mafia and other political parties to take away the boulders from the hillside. Due to the removal of boulders from the hillside, the village experienced heavy floods and landslides which used to destruct their crops. After her initiation, the village committee also supported her and prohibited the outsiders to carry the boulders. However, they allowed the villagers to use the small boulders if needed for household purposes.
Then the team moved towards the Sengelimari Garo Gaon to have lunch at Mrs. Sushila Sangma’s place. The team enjoyed the delicacies of traditional Garo dishes cooked by Mrs. Sushila Sangma and her fellow members of Self Help Group, Arpana Sangma and Wesbil Sangma. Mrs. Sushila Sangma is a widow of a medal earned army officer. After the death of her husband, she started to support the widows of army officers and gradually she became the president of the army widows of the entire Sonitpur District. She uses to help them in all the official documenting works and applying in all the schemes offered by the Indian army for the widows. After having the mouth-watering lunch, the ladies offered local oranges to the team.
After that the team moved to Sengelimari Banikhora Gaon to experience the lifestyle of Bodo Community. They went to a residence and spotted Euphorbia neriifolia, locally known as Siju, which has been used as the sacred plant of Bodo Community. Every morning the people of Bodo community use to perform rituals with the plant.
On the way back to EHBA, Mrs. Eliza Boro shared some interesting stories about the locality with the team. She talked about the origin of Garo community in Sonitpur Distict. As Garo Community are native to the state of Meghalaya, they are brought to Assam by the British either for rubber plantation or to fight for them. After the British left the country, they settled themselves near the hillside of Sonitpur district.
Thus the day of the BTFF team went experiencing the lifestyle of village dwellers of Garo, Bodo and Nissi community.