Sustainable Tourism at Manas Spring Festival

Sustainability, a newer term in the urban dictionary which is uber and chic to use while writing and discussing, but difficult to practice. It makes you sit upright and think, why and how did we as human race have to move towards unsustainable ways in the first place? I may not have the answer to this question, yet but there is a way to be sustainable while travelling. Here is a tale from the last weekend in Manas.

I had the chance to experience rustic and traditional sustainable living in its true sense during Manas Spring Festival: 7-8 April 2018. The festival was hosted by the local Bodo tribe and curated by Indian Weavers’ Alliance, SMOA, travel agencies and others to showcase the food, nature and culture of Assam. It was organized so as to boost local economy of villages around the fringe areas of Manas National Park. The entire set up was like a small village with exhibition of locally produced materials, Bihu dance performances and food. On the other side was camping for participants to stay during the 2 days of festival.

Manas spring festival
Gungzema – A community based ethnic food & cultural crafts
Stalls at Manas Spring festival
Stalls at Manas Spring festival

Sustainable tourism through local food

Food plays the most important part in any festival and Manas Spring Festival was no different. The local villagers showed some extraordinary culinary skills to showcase lipsmacking food with locally procured produce. Fresh water fish, eel, silkworm, chicken, pork, rice, lentils, rice beer and vegetables all grown locally were the highlight of the festival. They even demonstrated making the dishes and beer to the curious participants. All the preparation for food was done in front of us during the festival using wood stock as fuel in the traditional chulha system. This technique not only enhanced the flavors of local produce but was extremely satisfying.

Locally grown food at manas spring festival
Locally grown food at manas spring festival
Food at manas spring festival
Breakfast and lunch served in ecofriendly cutlery

Sustainable tourism through handloom business

Bodo women are known as one of the finest weavers in entire North East region. The basic raw material used is cotton and silk which is procured from markets of Guwahati city. The traditional motifs used by the Bodo are mainly inspired by nature. The Bodo colors are shades of yellow and red as the base, with green or blue as the accent, and floral patterns inspired by nature. The looms were demonstrated during the Manas Spring festival and traditional garments like Mekhela Chador (Skirt and shawl) and Dokhna (shawl) were on sale.

Handloom demonstration at manas spring festival
Bodo woman weaving on handloom; Bodo women pose in traditional attire

Sustainable tourism through culture

Bodo tribe is famous for their diverse culture which incorporates dancing and singing during festivals and otherwise. Bihu dance, Jhumur and Bagurumba are some of the traditional dances. All of these dances performances at Manas Spring Festival kept the tourists in awe and camera ready swaying on the beats of He he haiya he he haiya..

Dance at manas spring festival
Bagurumba Dance at manas spring festival
Dance at manas spring festival
Bihu Dance at manas spring festival

Sustainable tourism through Nature

Being on the fringe of Manas National Park, a safari was arranged for participants. You may have read my previous post ‘4 reasons to visit Manas National Park’ and I was excited to find even more reasons and spot more wildlife this time. But the rain gods spoiled our safari and we ended up spotting only a couple of elephants, Malabar red squirrel and a few birds. The safari made up for the rain when we reached Mathanguri on the banks of Manas River for the same charm as last time.

Elephants at manas spring festival
Elephants at manas spring festival
Manas river
Manas river overlooking Bhutan mountains

Camping in tents with no electricity, eating delicious food and knowing a tribe so close were all part of the amazing rural and sustainable tourism at Manas Spring Festival. The festival may or may not happen again, but efforts are being made to set up a permanent market of traditional clothes, dance and food for alternative livelihood of the Bodo tribe. If you ever happen to visit Manas National Park, do take some time out to visit Gungzema. The information about this center can be procured from SMOA – Swmkar Mittinga Onsai Afat – 8133069620/9365465351

Camping at manas spring festival
Camping at manas spring festival

Disclaimer: I was invited and hosted as a guest to participate in the Manas Spring Festival, however all opinions are my own. All photographs are copyright protected. Please contact me for permissions to use digitally or in print.

Like this post? Pin it!

Manas Spring Festival, #guwahati #assam #india #manasnationalpark

29 thoughts on “Sustainable Tourism at Manas Spring Festival

  1. Love the post Ketki. Very well chosen words with emphasis on sustainibilsus which is the real way of living for the ethnic population. Thanks for stressing on that enough.

  2. What an amazing experience – it’s like taking part in the everyday life of the tribe, tasting their food and watching their ritual dance.. I bet it was an uplifting experience

  3. I have been witness to efforts around the world that develop sustainable economic livelihoods around parks being protected (such as Zanzibar’s Jozani-Chwaka Bay) or in ecotourism for small plot farmers. It is neat to see the concept as applied in Assam. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Dear Ketki, what a beautifully written post. I relieved each moment reading it. The pictures sings the saga of our two days at Manas National Park.

  5. It seems that you had a lovely experience, the food looks great; the people look great, everything looks magical. Thank you for sharing <3

  6. Amazing and informative post. Loved learning so much about the culture and different aspects that are sustainable about it. Such an inspiration. I am trying to make some changes in my life so it’s great seeing how it is done elsewhere. (also the food looks ammazzzinggg)

    1. Being sustainable is like meditation. It’s difficult in the beginning but you miss it if you don’t follow.

  7. Thank you for bringing attention to such an important topic. We all have the responsibility of caring for our planet and it’s people.

  8. This definitely sounds like an interesting experience. I would like to see the cultural performance at the Manas Spring Festival. The handlooming is really beautiful. But most of all, I’d like to try the food!

  9. Okay…this festival looks like so much fun! I love how everyone is smiling and dancing. The soup with the flowers and clovers reminds me of the water that that you soak your hands and feet in at spas.

  10. This looks like an amazing experience. Im always wondering whether the tours/places I go are sustainable or authentic or just there for the tourism and money. Thank you for this blog post. I really enjoyed their dresses & the colours!

  11. Sounds like an amazing experience! I love the colorful clothing. And the food looks so good! Really interesting to see your photos of how the food is cooked.

  12. Wow! Manas seems like an incredible local travel experience. One an never underestimate the importance of local interaction during travel and this seems to be like a hub for it! When exactly does it happen and is it open for all?

    1. Hi kanika, it happened for the first time this year in month of April. It was open for all. Not sure if the festival will happen again but the centre will stay and so will the cultural experience.

  13. The Manas spring festival sounds like an amazing experience. But most importantly, I love your travel style of embedding yourself in the local lifestyle. Assam and Meghalaya are still so prestine it’ll be awesome if eco tourism becomes the norm and we preserve the beauty – the fabrics, outfits, dances, food and lifestyle.

  14. What a lovely Spring Festival. Great to be living with locals, enjoying delicious food from the area and celebrating the beauty. Great reminder about traveling and eating local!

  15. Wow, this looks amazing!! The food looks delicious and the clothing beautiful!! Eating locally produced food is SO important not just for our health but the environment!

Leave a Reply