Every person, every community and every culture appoint a day to celebrate their existence or an incident of significance.
The founders of the North-east Solidarity, an NGO based in Bangalore devoted to addressing discrimination against the northeasterners residing in the city, conceptualised ‘Northeast Culture Day’ to be celebrated every second Tuesday in the month of August. On this day, North-eastern individuals celebrate their culture in their homes, in their own way. They may specially cook a North-eastern dish, or wear their traditional attire to work and talk about their culture to their friends and colleagues who may not be from the same culture as they are.
In 2016, the Northeast Solidarity successfully organised a beauty pageant as well as a food festival. But even with the success of these events, there are many other North-eastern students as well as employees in Bangalore who do not know of the existence of such a day. Bangalore is a big city and houses many cultures from all over the nation but why is it that only a few people know of such a day?
After asking quite a few North-eastern students from St. Joseph’s College, home to a bigger and more diverse North-east Indian community compared to most other colleges in the city, the surprising find was that only the ones who met with Dr. Rini Ralte, a member of the Northeast Solidarity, knew about the festivities and this number, too, was too small to even be considered.
Coming from one of the North-eastern states and still not knowing about the existence of such a day was embarrassing to admit but then again, we have never really advertised our culture too much. I have personally never talked about my culture to my friends even though I’m the only Khasi in my class. We’ve been in a bubble and waited for things to happen to us and stuck to our own kind. How can we ever change the mindset of the people with actions like these? It’s good to have your own people close but it’s also important to mingle even more with the rest of the world.
It is, therefore, important that we, North-eastern individuals who are residing in Bangalore, try to improve media coverage of these North-eastern events. We must invest our time in promoting and advertising our culture and our events in mainstream media more, especially when presented with the excuse of such a festive day. It should also be the interest of city news organisations to take the initiative in being curious about the North-eastern culture and to cover these events so that we can break the current cycle of alienation. We, the people from Northeast, cannot do it without the help of our Bangalore friends. It’s a two-way system if we all want to be united in diversity. To break all these inhibitions and misconceptions that we have of each other.
Many students, both from the North-east community as well as from outside the community agree that a day like Northeast Culture Day is very important for the sustenance as well as awareness-building about our culture. We should try to reach the people from other communities to celebrate with us as we dance to our tribal tunes and fill our tummies with home food and clothe ourselves with familiar colours.
Written by Catherine Shadap.