October 2016\nA trip to the interiors of the Himalayan ranges.\nA journey that would have taken 6 days by animal carriers 40 years ago but today takes 7 hours.\nA journey planned for years and finally realised in 2016.\nThe long tedious journey was specifically planned to experience the Bonona festival of the Aryan people in the Eastern Himalayas of India.\nThe population of this group is now 2500! ONLY 2500!\nAnd yet they have a surviving culture that is unique and filled with ancient heritage elements! This group of people is an absolute delight for me as I\u00a0 enjoy (enjoy is mild word) diversity and get thrilled by the differentness of lifestyles.\nOver the last few years of traveling within India I have found that at a festival the essence of the culture is on display \u2013 dances, music, costumes, hairstyles, jewelry, food and drink are all presented wrapped up in sentiments of gaiety and joyful indulgence.\nCan there be a better time to schedule a visit?\nThis festival doesn\u2019t entirely depend on the lunar calendar so the date is not set in advance. It could be any date in the period of October \u2013 November. All those who attend come in from nearby villages and others who work in the city are only 6 hours away. So a short notice of 5-6 days is not a problem for anyone.\nExcept for me \u2013 a wannabe attendee \u2013\u00a0 sitting 4500 km away.\nGiven that I would have to make bookings for one international flight, two domestic flights (one stop to pick up my Himalayan clothing) and a Himalayan road journey of 160 kilometers, I was nervous about missing it if I did not have sufficient notice. So for two months preceding the approximate festival period I called up my patient Aryan friends every 3-4 days to check if the date had been announced. [It is now over 5 years since we\u2019ve been friends so I think by now they have learnt to bear the burden of my friendship.] On one call they announced that the much awaited festival date and that it was going to be held the following week.\nWell \u2013 I was grateful that I at least got to know in advance!\nArrangements were made and we reached the village that was hosting the festival this year.\nAnd I finally got to experience the Bonona festival \u2013 something that I had longed to do for years \u2026.\nThe visuals and sounds and complete flooding of all my senses was absolutely amazing and filled with nothing but thrill, delight, awe, stimulation and joy.\nThough I\u00a0 cannot transmit through words on the screen everything I experienced \u2026. here is a glimpse of the sensory feast.\n***\nThe women in the family get ready \u2013 braiding each other\u2019s hair and putting on the\u00a0 extravagant gorgeous ornaments and headdresses.\n\nAnd then we proceed to the elevated site where the men pray and invoke the dieties with a beautiful ceremony that involves singing and fire and incense.\nINITIATION CEREMONY: \nThe women then hurry up to gather at the entrance to welcome the priest in his undyed wool robes who leads the group from the prayer site to the dance site.\nRECEPTION & WELCOME \nThe men and women gather around in a circle and begin their dances to the sound of their own singing and the drums and horns of the musicians.\nTHE DANCES BEGIN \nThe Dard Aryan group have their traditions documented orally in their songs that have been passed down from generation to generation. These oral traditions are transmitted to the next generation through their singing during festivals. The organic transmission depends heavily on the attendance of these festivals. But with the net gen moving to big cities for education and work, this is an endangered practice.\nSONGS OF WOMEN: \nSONGS OF MEN: \nI have heard that the government is doing its bit to capture these songs into audio and video recordings that will be available for young people to learn from. Will find out the details of this soon.\nAnd by the second night of the festival people have arrived home from all over and I get to see the strength of the community in full force!\nEveryone knows everyone. Everyone has one relative \u2013 even if distant \u2013 in the host\u00a0 village.\nAnd there is a sense of grandness in the night as they all dance under the Himalayan moon.\nDANCING THROUGH THE NIGHT \nWhat a feast this experience has been!\n***\nThere\u2019s more to the tale \u2026. each element of their culture arouses intrigue and awe \u2026\nOver the years of knowing these people I\u2019ve recorded over a dozen interviews with the elders on the subjects of\n\u2013 their cultural practices\n\u2013 their elements and the significance of their costumes\n\u2013 their history\nand sooner or later I\u2019ll make notes from the recordings and put them down in this blog.\nUntil then I\u2019m sharing a little festive Angoori Chaang or Grape wine offered just before the festivities began:\n\n\njaina mishra\nFeb 2017\n\nSave\nSave\nThe post The Bonona Festival of the Himalayan Aryans appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.