Majuli in upper Assam will turn into a classroom for music, poetry, art, craft, food, ingredients, culinary techniques and indigenous herbs, thanks to Mongeet, a festival of music and culture. A brainchild of actor Adil Hussain and Kaushik Nath, actor-director-turned-entrepreneur, Mongeet: The Soul Songs festival will be held at Dekasang in Majuli and Sadiya from January 12. Having begun in 2020 as a movement of arts and music, Mongeet aims to nurture upcoming musical talents of Assam.
What is Mongeet?
The festival provides a platform for young talents in the state to showcase their original music and be guided and mentored by musicians such as Papon, Joi Barua, Tarali Sharma, Kalyan Baruah, Dhrubajyoto Phukan, Anurag Saikia and Nilotpal Bora. Founder Kaushik Nathexplains, “We accept entries in all genres — hip-hop, rap and rock — and have no age limit for musicians because we feel music has no age. The response has been outstanding. From 20 finalists, we had to double the number on account of the response. The participants can jam with the panellists and perform on stage with them.”
Mongeet will be held on January 15, 16, and 17 at Dekasang, Majuli, and on January 19 and 20 at Dekasang, Sadiya. This edition will also witness Montulika – a creative painting workshop and Monmritikka – a special workshop on the rich art and sculpture of Assam.
This is the only festival from Assam that is designed to promote music, art, culture and food “to educate people about our culture and introduce the rich musicians of our state to the world. When Adil Husain and I discussed the idea of giving back to society, and the need for Assam to have a soul song festival with high art for a global audience, we didn’t expect it to take wing so fast. Assam needed a fest through which we could show not just our music but our heritage, our crafts and cuisine,” says Kaushik, adding, “An Assamese meal is not just aloo pitika and dal bhaat.”
Renowned Assamese Chef Atul Lahkar will hold a masterclass, aharor Aakholi (food and traditional kitchen), to talk about food conservation, identification of ingredients, modern cooking methods in relation to indigenous techniques, and ways to promote regional cuisine. The idea behind Atul’s three-day workshop, starting January 12, is simple: It aims at “making our traditional food popular. That will help younger generations learn about it; the moment they learn, they will begin to protect it. When there is demand, it will restore the livelihood of indigenous people who survive on traditional methods such as dhuwa saang (smoking meats and fish), and by collecting edible herbs and helping us differentiate useful plants from weeds.
Citing an example of rosemary and parsley, Chef Atul says, “These ingredients are popular because of the dishes. Similarly, if we talk about bhedelota maas (fish curry with skunk vine), we can make use of and contribute to the preservation of skunk vine. We have lost many of our indigenous edible herbs to deforestation, now is the time to collect them and save them for the future.”
Chef Atul says his masterclass will share the knowledge he has collected over the last 25 years, as he visited and lived in various tribal hamlets to learn their way of life.