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Suryakanthi Tripathi

Pic: Photoswami  

                           

 

 

 

THE SUNRISE STATES

Suryakanthi Tripathi

 

SALUTING THE EIGHT STATES OF INDIAíS NORTH-EAST

 

 

TELL US OF OURSELVES, TELL US OF THE SUNRISE STATES

 

 

The Government of Delhi organised an outdoor photo exhibition on the theme of Indiaís North East on 19 November 2010 to mark the birth anniversary of Smt. Indira Gandhi. It was held in the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust in New Delhi, and was part of a large commemorative event that included a very colourful presentation of the dances and the crafts of the eight states of the North East.

This photo exhibition was called THE SUNRISE STATES by Suryakanthi Tripathi. She developed the theme of the exhibition, obtained the photos from several photographers and sources, wrote the text, and worked with the printers ---- all this in three weeks, the total time she was given to mount this exhibition.

Her text for the exhibition, in 35 stanzas, is here below. It is in the form of questions posed to the Seer in the Sky about various aspects---- people, faiths, nature and traditions of the North East. It attempts to give a glimpse of the warmth of the people and the extraordinary variety, beauty and wealth of this region. It is a salute to our Eight Sunrise States.

 

 

 

 

 

OURSELVES

They said,

Tell us of ourselves.

And the Seer in the Sky replied,

You who live in all eight directions

Beat with the one heart of this great land.

But those of you in this, the north east,

You are the special eight,

For you welcome the first light,

You are the Guardians of the East.

 

 

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

 

FIRST RAYS OF THE SUN

They said,

Tell us of our sunrise states.

And Donyi-Polo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

The first rays of Indiaís new millennium

Came to my valley of Dong in Arunachal

Every day and future starts with this sunrise.

Eight light minutes journeys the sun

So that the eight of the east

Can unwrap its radiance for all the land.

 

YOU, DONYI-POLO

They said,

Tell us of yourself

And Donyi-Polo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Donyi-Polo, the sun and moon, the cosmic power,

Through which the supreme being,

The world-spirit is made manifest.

In my light, you see the truth,

Truth that is tranquil, that is here, there, everywhere,

Its beauty and purity, free of all coercion.

 

TAWANG

They said,

Tell us about Tawang.

And the Sakyamuni, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Tawang is Monpa terrain, a spur of hill viewing a valley,

And Gaden Namgyal Lhatse is its monastery.

In homage to the Buddha is its ancient gompa,

Its monks in prayer, its murals and manuscripts.

Tawang is history, beauty and sanctity,

It is spiritual grandeur, the refuge of the seeker.

 

NATURE IN ARUNACHAL

They said,

Tell us about nature here,

And Donyi-Polo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Green here received a rare invitation

To tropical, subtropical, temperate, pine and alpine,

Watered by five rivers, few equal this land

In plants and mammals, birds and butterflies.

See beauty all around, from an orchid to a leopard,

A moth to a python, a flying squirrel to a slow loris.

 

 

ASSAM

 

DEVI KAMAKHYA

They said,

Tell us about the Goddess,

And Hori Deo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

She is Devi Kamakhya of the Nilachal Hill

Drawing a million pilgrims and then more

She is the primal energy, Shakti,

Invisible except as all creation.

She is light and dark, ferocious and benign,

And takes on all forms of the Divine.

 

THE MIGHTY BRAHMAPUTRA

They said

Tell us about the mighty Brahmaputra.

And Hori Deo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

The braided Brahmaputra, an ancient river,

Coursing through names, legends and cultures,

This free, timeless hymn to beauty and plenty,

Is held in reverence, worshipped by millions.

Cherish its waters that sustain life and land,

And cherish the life within its flowing waters.

 

THE GREAT ONE-HORNED RHINO

They said,

Tell us about the Great One-Horned Rhino.

And Hori Deo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,
For eleven million years, he, my beloved

Has bathed the Brahmaputra
Rippling the waters with his horn.

He can run and swim better than you can,

Hear and smell better than you can,

Know him, love the beloved, and let him live.

 

(The one-horned rhino is in danger of extinction.)

 

MAJULI

They said,

Tell us about Majuli.

And Hori Deo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

This isle, the largest born of any river,

Nestles in your Brahmaputra and looks at your hills.

Sacred it is for the Satras of the Vaishnavites

The Mishings dance there the Ali Ai Ligang,

Majuli is home to so many peoples,

And to my birds that migrate the seasons.

 

BIHU

They said,

Tell us about Bihu.

And Hori Deo, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Bihu is celebration, worship and harvest,

Gratitude in song and dance

As the drums beat and cymbals ring.

In the fields, by the river, when the cuckoo calls

In earthís every flower swaying in the wind

For love that blossoms, for all is lush with life. 

 

 

MANIPUR

 

THE WOMEN OF MANIPUR

They said,

Tell us about the women of the east.

And Atiya Shidaba, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Is the earth heavy? She, our Mother, is heavier.

Every vendor at the womenís market is an Ima.
In the home, in struggle, in weaving, crafting and playing

Mother, sister, daughter of you home,

Daughter of another home, each one an Ima

Waiting to realize her potential and power.

 

NAT SANKIRTAN

They said,

Tell us about Nat Sankirtan.

And Atiya Shidaba, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

It is humility, harmony and vigour together,

It is the visual chanting of the Lordís name,

It is song, dance and percussion in love

With the love of Radha and Krishna.

Nat Sankirtan is prayer in expression,

Thus, the sustenance of art and devotion.

 

THIS LAND OF GEMS

They said,

Tell us about this land of gems.

And Atiya Shidaba, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Their lore, legend and loom, dance, art and craft, 

The Meitei, Naga, Kuki and Meitei Pangal colour

With azure hills, emerald valleys and sapphire lakes.

Manipur, a little paradise, a flower on lofty heights,

As unique as its Shiroy lily on the Ukhrul hills.

Its brow-antlered Sangai deer, itís floating Loktak isles.

 

KHONGJOM

They said,

Tell us about Khongjom.

And Atiya Shidaba, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

It is the stuff of legend, a battle like no other,

With Thang-ta, the fearless sword and spear,

A last stand against the invading cannon,

Led by Paona Brajabasi of uncommon valor.

Ballads of this land will always sing

The Khongjom Parva, of daring and glory.

 

 

 

MEGHALAYA

 

THE SACRED GROVES

They said,

Tell us about the sacred groves of the cloud-realm.

And U Blei-Ka Blei, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

The Law Kyntang at Mawphlang, in the hollow of hills,

Monoliths of your revered ancestors circling them,

Are home to Lisan, the primeval, universal mother,

To Ryngkew, of the first light, father of soil and water

Through them I say to you, trees are sacred,

And should never be spoken to with an axe.

 

THE GREAT CAVES

They said,

Tell us about the great caves in this region of clouds.

And U Blei-Ka Blei, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

These caves and caverns, Krem Kotsati to Krem Dam,

Sculpted by nature with millennial patience,

They are the books of earthís own history.

Steeped in myths, mystery and mysticism

In these old pages, there is much

Of the lore of your people, your terrain.

 

CHERRAPUNJEE

They said,

Tell us about Sohra.

And U Blei-Ka Blei, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Sohra, that you called Cherrapunjee,

The wettest place, a plateau of abundance

Also of plants, animals, the rarest of birds

Protect it, itís your wealth and variety.
Since to get, it is not easy,

A repeat order of natureís generosity.

 

MATRILINEAL PEOPLE

They said,

Tell us about the woman here.

And U Blei-Ka Blei, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

For those who know descent from the mother

ĎLong jaid na ka kyntheií,

From the woman, sprang the clan,

And so, she gets the ancestral property. 

She who teaches the child of the family, 

About custom and continuity, of god and duty,

She should have a field of her own.

 

 

MIZORAM

 

TLAWMNGAIHNA, SERVICE TO OTHERS

They said,

Tell us about the heart of the Mizo.

And Pathian, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

It is Tlawmngaihna, service to others,

Even giving up life, expecting nothing in return.

It is to be self-sacrificing, self-denying,

Patient, persevering, self-respecting.
This is Tlawmngaihna, so uniquely Mizo,

Rendering to community, to nation, to humanity.

 

THE BLUE MOUNTAIN

They said,

Tell us about the Blue Mountain.

And Pathian, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Phawngpui Peak is the high protector,

Sacred sentinel of your land and light.

A mountain meadow, draped by cloud and water,

Adorned with the rhododendron and butterfly

Hazed blue by the hills and valleys below

So that in its beauty you may sense divinity.

 

THE CHAPCHAR KUT

They said,

Tell us about the Chapchar  Kut.

And Pathian, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Celebrate natureís bounty to you

For none will give you as much.

Sing together, old songs and new,

Dance the Cheraw, pace the bamboo briskly.

Itís spring, the land is ready for a new planting.

Remember, there is work after your gaiety.

 

THE SINGING TRIBES

They said,

Tell us about the singing tribes.

And Pathian, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Music to the Mizos, is as air to another

They sing in church, at a planting, a wedding

In joy, in sadness, the long night and the next day.

Together and singly, even silently to themselves.

With drums, gongs, trumpets, flutes, sticks and strings

Tell me, who captivates Pathian more with melody?

 

 

NAGALAND

 

THE NAGAS

They said,

Tell us about the Nagas.

And Gawang, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

More can always be said about the Nagas, but never all.

For the Angami, Ao, Rengma, Sema and Sangtam

Kachari, Kuki, Konyak, Khiamniungam, Chang and Chakesang,

Laingmei, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Zeliang and Yimchungru,

And more, each with own life, custom and celebration,

But they all laugh, know colour, and sing of the misty mountain.

 

THIS LAND OF THE NAGAS

They said,

Tell us about this land of the Nagas.

And Gawang, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Rivers flow between peaks, clouds tinge mountains,

Valleys are velvet, slopes with thousand orchids,

The paddy green gold, and bamboo the architecture.

Then, when people paint with dance and attire,

One visit will not do to this cradle of colour

You must return, as Nagas say, to get back your soul.

 

THE KOHIMA CEMETERY OF THE BRAVE

They said,

Tell us about the cemetery of the brave.

And Gawang, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

It was Kohima that halted the assault

Against you by a besieging army.

And those who fought and gave their all

In pride, to others they said, ĎWhen you go home,

Tell them of us, and say,

For your tomorrow, we gave our todayí.

 

THE ARIJU OF THE AO NAGAS

They said,

Tell us about the Ariju of the Ao.

And Gawang, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

The Ariju of the Ao is the Morung of other Nagas
The common college of responsibility and community.

Ariju, old as a village itself, hails the interdependence

Of the collective and the individual.

In the Ariju, an Ao grows from boy to man

Learning custom and culture, knowing society and security.

 

(Gawang is the Supreme Being for the Konyak Nagas.) 

 

 

SIKKIM

 

KHANGCHENDZONGA

They said,

Tell us about yourself.

And Khangchendzonga, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

I am what I am and, to many of you, this I am.

Lord of the snows, fiery-red, with a skull crown,

Riding a white lion and holding victoryís banner.

My treasures, lacquered gold of sunrise and sunset,

Silver snow, jewelled scriptures and divine armour.

I am what I am, the many in one, the one in many.

 

THE LEPCHAS

They said,

Tell us about the Lepchas.

And Khangchendzonga, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

They, the first inhabitants of these hills,

They call me Kingtsoom Zaongboo Choo

The bright, auspicious, forehead peak.

I call them children of my snowy ravines.

Shy, simple, sincere, with always a chunk

Of Nye Mayel Lyang, pure heaven, in their hearts.

 

THE BEAUTY OF SIKKIM

They said,

Tell us about the beauty of Sikkim.

And Khangchendzonga, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

In Sikkim, earth itself finds refreshment

In jungles, lakes, sublime solitudes and skies,

Flowery uplands at the feet of great glaciers,

Leopards, pandas, birds, butterflies and orchids,

Each uplifting your soul by its singular beauty,

Each saying, whatever you are, be also a priest of nature.

 

CHAAM, THE MASK DANCE

They said,

Tell us about Chaam, the dance with the masks.

And Khangchendzonga, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Cham is the profound world of sacred masked dances,

Cymbals clash, drums beat, horns blow, monks chant,

And a meditative state of body, speech and mind

Releases dance, to change impurity to purity,

Convert the demon of thought into a deity,

For you to know enlightenment, become the Buddha.

 

 

TRIPURA

 

THE BOROK PEOPLE

They said,

Tell us about the Borok people.

And Sibrai, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Of ancient origin, proud dwellers of the hills,

The Borok are many clans and communities,

Speaking Kokborok and its many dialects.

Borok also means person, partner, citizen,

Community, population, nation and people.

So, to the Borok, ever friendly, none is a stranger.

 

UNAKOTI SCULPTURES

They said,

Tell us about Unakoti.

And Sibrai, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

Rock-cut images, belief carved on a mountain,

Unakoti, the unique, bas-relief sculpture,

Is an artistís dream, the biggest in the land.

Home it is to gods, one crore less one,

And garlanded by a stream is mighty Shiva.

Incomparable grandeur it is, deep in the forest.

 

GODDESS TRIPURA SUNDARI

They said,

Tell us about Tripura Sundari.

And Sibrai, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

She is Shakti, she is pure energy,

A fierce goddess, beloved to the devout.

For centuries, people have walked distance

To see their Chhoto Ma, the little mother.

In Matabari, the maternal hut, haven of piety,

The pride of Udaipur, once capital of this state.

 

THE BAMBOO

They said,

Tell us about the bamboo.

And Sibrai, the Seer in the Sky, replied,

The bamboo grows quickly, no plant as versatile,

Becomes a basket, carving, flute, fabric or dwelling,

As supple as the skill that shapes the desire.

The bamboo, garlanded, becomes Lord Garia,

The god who grants livestock, children and peace.

It is friend to life and faith, friend to earth.

 

 

MORE OF OURSELVES

 

OUR SUNRISE EIGHT

They said,

Tell us more of ourselves, our sunrise eight.

And the Seer in the Sky replied,

If I talk of a tribe a day, I will need a year,

In courage, custom, colour, gaiety and smile,
Faith, language, lore, dress, dance and music,

Mountain, ravine, river, forest, crop and oil,

Leopard, rhino, bird, orchid, butterfly and moth,

This wealth and beauty, unrivalled on earth.

 

Border by the Inspiration Gallery

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