An eight-day-long cultural extravaganza of the North Eastern States titled “Celebrating the North East: Exhibition, Fashion, Music” opened at Dilli Haat opposite INA Market in New Delhi on Tuesday with a fashion show.

Organised by the Union Textiles Ministry in association with the Director of Welfare of Plain Tribes & Backward Classes, Government of Assam, the festival is divided into three components – fashion, music and dance-handicrafts.

Vikram Rai Medhi, a big name on the fashion scene in the North East, says he has conceptualised the entire festival in order to instil pride and confidence in his people. “Our community was disturbed by the morphed pictures of violence which were circulated by mischievous Internet users. It led to an exodus of our people from the South and other parts of the country. Through this festival we want to tell our countrymen that our people have the right to work and progress with dignity and self-respect in any part of the country.”

For this festival, well-known models known on the fashion circuit of the North East will walk the ramp. International modes from Brazil, Russia and Germany have also been roped in because the idea is to go global. “We are heartened by the fact that Assamese silk is used in Japanese traditional garment kimono. Similarly our garments, an amalgamation of Western and traditional motifs, have great potential to be sold in prominent merchandise stores of Europe, Russia and South America.”

Noting that people in the North East, especially the younger generation, have a professional approach towards fashion, Vikram says the youth have realised the tremendous potential of fashion as a serious career option. “The entire country acknowledges that people from the North East are fashionable people. Even those who have had no training in a fashion house are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the latest international trends.”

The direct beneficiaries of the tremendous craze for fashion are weavers and artisans. Young designers are guiding weavers, familiar with old traditional designs, on how to diversify their products. This is bringing more revenue and enabling artisans to access education and health care.

Every day a fashion show will be staged by each State from the North East. Vikram’s show on the fashion trend in his home State of Assam was staged on Tuesday. Tribal as well as non-tribal designers are being given a platform to become a part of the national mainstream.

Nagaland designer Haijele Rangma will be showcasing party wear in red, white and black. “I will also display headgear made from traditional shells.”

To save the steep transportation cost, pottery and basket seller Zing Shangh from Manipur has produced an array of products like tea pots and beer mugs in the Capital. “They are made with serpentine rock in a village named Longpi. Not many people in our State go in for these stone made products but in Delhi they are quite popular.”

Besides traditional music and dance, which play a prominent role in the socio-cultural life of the entire North East, stalls displaying textiles, accessories and jewellery would provide visitors with abundant variety.

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