Rongali Bihu will be celebrated the world over by the Assamese community on Sunday 15th April. Rongali Bihu is one of three major cultural festivals from Assam, the North Eastern state of India from where my family originates. This festival marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the harvest season with a wide range of festive treats including Til’or Pitha and Narikol’or Laru (do try out the recipes for these by clicking here).
But today’s post is not going into depth about Bihu. Proudly Assamese, I wanted to take advantage of this upcoming special occasion and share a beautiful piece of Assamese folklore with you. Every culture has treasured ‘hand me down’ fairytales that have been whispered down generations, and the Cinderella-style struggle story that has a prominent part in Assamese story-telling is that of Tejimola.
My whirlwind trip to India now feels like a distant dream. Where did a whole month go? We spent the major chunk of our holiday in the beautifully picturesque town of Shillong.
My Hubby calls Shillong home, and spent his entire childhood here. Every nook of the city seems to hold a fond memory for him, and despite being away for countless years, he proves to be an expert tour guide, leading me through miles of endlessly narrow streets and cobbled stairs.
When exploring a city, I like to take to the streets like a local. Sure, a fancy hotel stay is a much-needed rejuvenating treat but I had under 24 hours to backpack around Guwahati, the capital city of Assam (North East India) and ofcourse it involved a major eatathon!
My father in-law has a very endearing caretaker who originates from the Garo Hills. Swing is a short, middle-aged man with a rather muscular stature and a deep, dark chocolate-brown complexion, and has been a part of this family ever since I married into it. Yes, his name is Swing! Given his fondness for the bottle and a very jovial disposition, this name seems pretty apt for him. Sparse teethed yet ever-smiling, Swing has formed a special friendship with my daughter who he last saw as a 2 year-old. My daughter does not speak any Indian regional languages, and Swing has very limited use of the English tongue. Yet the other afternoon, I saw him sitting there trying to tell her a story in colloquial Hindi.
Always keen on hearing some regional-style storytelling myself, I sat down to listen and offered to be the translator between the two. Swing narrated the story of Gangbo Raja, a folktale that has been passed down generations in the Garo Hills.