His face radiant with pure joy, a small boy throws pebbles into the crystal clear waters of the river. This is the very character of the BASCON festival, a festival that is a celebration of indigenous culture, music, and above all the harmony of man with nature. It is a festival that aims to bring together hearts in a surging symphony of music and dance.
The harmonious Galo tribe
Basar is a town in the picturesque state of Arunachal Pradesh. The BASCON (Basar Confluence) is an annual affair that takes place at the confluence of two rivers. There are festivals and then there are festivals. What makes this festival stand out is that an entire community works together to stage this event. The community is one of the indigenous tribes of the region known as the Galo tribe. The Galo tribe lives in harmony with nature and the environment.
The BASCON festival is one of its kind, and it is completely natural and eco-friendly. The stage, the stalls, the small temporary bridges across the rivers are all hand-crafted by the members of the Galo tribe using bamboo. Plastic is banned and water as well as the local rice wine known as Poka is served in bamboo containers. The festival is focused on keeping alive the ancient culture and traditions of the Galo tribe. The Galo folk dances and music as well as the traditional sports dominated the 3-day long festival. Traditional cuisine is served in the thatched bamboo hut that dot the festival grounds. The festival intoxicates and leaves you with a feeling of being one with the elements of nature.
The unique BASCON festival is the brainchild of a non-governmental organization known as GRK (Gumin Rego Kilaju) whose vision is seamlessly integrated into the best of tradition and development.
High up in the Himalayan ranges in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir lies the region of Ladakh which is known as the land of high passes. Leh is the main city of the region at an altitude of 3,500 metres. The region is breathtakingly beautiful with snow-clad mountains rubbing shoulders with vast arid deserts and glacial lakes.
An ancient Himalayan spiritual tradition
Ladakh is also the land of mystical Tibetan Buddhism and is dotted by ancient monasteries that have stood the test of time and carry forward the Buddhist culture and religion to this day. One such ancient monastery is the Hemis Monastery located about 40 kilometres from Leh.
The Hemis Monastery is famous for the Naropa Festival which is a celebration of spirituality, dance, music, and culture. The festival brings together the Buddhist masters and devotees from across the world under one roof for a period of five days. The Naropa Festival celebrates the life and times and teachings of Naropa a Buddhist master who lived between 1016 to 1100 CE. The festival is not only a forum for spiritual discussion but also a celebration of the unique local culture through the medium of dance and music.
The festival used to be celebrated once in 12 years and was a grand affair when the holy relics of Naropa were brought out as well as the crown and jewels, which were handed down by him were worn by the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage. The sacred ornaments are believed to be so holy that devotees believe that the mere sight of them would help in salvation.
More festivities to come
The Naropa Festival is held in the month of September or October and has now been made an annual affair. The 2018 edition of the festival concluded in grand style in September and all eyes are on 2019 when the next edition of the festival will be back.