GUIDE TO DWIJING FESTIVAL – RIVERSIDE OFFBEAT BUDGET EVENT IN BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM, INCREDIBLE INDIA.
WHAT IS DWIJING FESTIVAL ALL ABOUT?
Dwijing Festival is an annual celebration of arts, dance, music, food, drinks and local Bodo culture on the banks of a picturesque river which changes its course every year. For me, it was a not only a wonderful way to bid adieu to last year but also to immerse myself in the Bodo culture, about which little is known to the outside world. I was chosen as the Bodoland Ambassadors for a 7 day all inclusive trip to Bodoland. If you want to apply for the same, keep a tab on their social media page and website.
BOLLYWOOD AT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM:
Many Bollywood stars such as Malaika Arora and singers like Kailash Kher, Bhoomi Trivedi, Shweta Pandit, Neeraj Shridhar, Himesh Reshmiyya, Amit Trivedi also performed there. The wrestling giant – the Great Khali also paid a visit. See attached schedule of Dwijing festival for more details.
FORMAT OF DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM:
The Dwijing Festival is a weeklong festival which takes places once in a year. In the day time, I enjoyed exploring the hug fair grounds, often shopping or sampling local food. The evenings were reserved for enjoying the song and dance performances at the stage.
I particularly loved the energetic Bihu dance from Assam, the visually stunning Apsara dance from Thailand and the unanimously loved dance by the Siddi people of Gujarat. Siddi people are migrants from East Africa, settled in Gujarat since 628 A.D. There are also many swings in a designated area.
I and other bloggers also enjoyed a ride on Tora Tora. I must have done that after 20 years! There were also plenty of makeshift toilets available across the fair grounds and even outside it. Many locals also enjoy picknicking outside the fair grounds.
SOUL WINDOW TIP: The festival ground is all sand. Wear good shoes. Also, take some shots from the Hangrama bridge and from the picnic area at the sun set. It looks amazing.
SHOPPING GUIDE: DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
I bought many Aronai to gift it to my mother and others. Aronai is a local hand woven Bodo scarf which is worn by both men and women. It is also used for honoring people. The price starts at Rs. 150 per ‘aronai’. You can also buy gamsa which is equivalent of Bihar’s gamcha. It is akin to a sarong worn by the Bodo males. Dokhona, the traditional dress of Bodo women is for sale as well and so is the Jwmgra, another scarf used by Bodo women.
I also bought a beer mug made out of bamboo. My friends picked some bamboo handicrafts too. There is also a book fair from where I and other bloggers bought some hard to find books on Bodoland.
ART DISPLAYS AT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
There were various art displays on the banks of river. I particularly loved the ‘Possibility house’. It looked like a space ship but was open to interpretation. It was made entirely of bamboo.
In fact, all the other art displays were made by local artists using local, organic materials such as sand, bamboo etc. The theme of heavy damage due to annual flood and change of course of the rivers was recurrent in the art displays.
ADVENTURE AT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
For a small fee you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Dwijing Festival from a tied hot air balloon. You can also enjoy parasailing next to the river banks. What’s more? Jet Skiing is also available. The locals were pretty excited to try their hand or even be just an audience to the same.
LOCAL CULTURAL SHOW DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
There was a very unique ‘Open Stage’ in the fair grounds of Dwijing Festival. Anyone with a talent was allowed to perform on this egalitarian stage. You can also enjoy the local songs and dances on the main stage by trained performers.
HOW ECO FRIENDLY DWIJING FESTIVAL IS: BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
The Dwijing Festival was not as eco friendly as I experienced in some of the other festivals I attended in North East India but it has scope. They can take lessons from the very eco friendly Bas Con 3 which is 100 % eco friendly. (Even coffee is served in bamboo mugs). That said, I loved the very strong bamboo bridges (beautifully lit) to cross the river.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD GUIDE AT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM :
Of all the festivals (Bas Con3, Hornbill Festival, Orange Festival and Adventure at Mechuka) I attended in North East India in 2 months, Dwijing festival had the best options for vegetarians and vegans. I ate a quirky bhel puri (Rs. 100) which actually resembled ‘Raj Kachori’ of North India. It wasted great. So did the papdi chat. It was so good that we ordered more. We also tried the delicious Ema Datsi, the national dish of Bhutan.
The curry is made with cheese, chillies and often with addition of potatoes and mushrooms and is served with thick red rice of Bhutan. It is vegetarian but not vegan. I also loved the jhalmuri flavoured with mustard oil (Rs. 10) You can also find other vegan and vegetarian dishes such as pav bhaji, macaroni, dosa, idli etc. There is also a Rajasthan stall. Pick Pyaaz Kachoris and Daal Bati Churma from this stall.
WHERE TO STAY AT BONGAIGAON DURING DWIJING FESTIVAL, BODOLAND, ASSAM
Cygnett Park Meghna at Bongaigaon is very close to the location of Dwijing festival. It is a 4 star property and one of the finest luxury hotels in Bodoland. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable. The comfortable mattress on the bed was loved by all the travelers I met. The restaurant has excellent vegan and vegetarian food. Think Poha, Idli, Uttapam, fresh fruit juices, salads, assorted cereals, pancakes etc for breakfast and potato/lentil/brinjal pitika (same as bharta or chokha) and assorted desserts made us happy during lunch and dinner.
Basic tents are also located right next to the festival grounds. I like this idea as travelers will save time traveling from the hotel to the festival ground. In case, you are not fond of basic tents, luxury tents are also available. The facilities and amenities in these are as good as the hotels. Booking in advance is advised.
LOCATION OF DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
The festival ground is picturesque. We crossed the beautifully lit Hangrama bridge to reach the Dwijing Festival. The path which leads up to the festival ground is also lit with gorgeous lanterns and jhalar (lights).
In fact, we got down from our cab to walk till the entry gate of festival. Of all the festivals I had attended in North East India, the location of Dwijing Festival was one of the best. They have also created a Bodo village in one corner of the festival where you can get an idea of Bodo culture in case you are running short of time.
STAY SAFE AT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
Of all the festivals (Bas Con3, Hornbill Festival, Orange Festival and Adventure at Mechuka) I attended in North East India in 2 months, the security at Dwijing festival was the best. There were many policemen in and around the fair grounds. And I did not see a single incident of bad behavior by either the locals or the travelers. It is also safe for solo travelling.
EXCITING THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND DWIJING FESTIVAL AND BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM:
- You can visit the gorgeous Manas National Park. I did. It lies in both India and Bhutan. We spotted many animals and birds.
- Cross over to Bhutan for a day trip. Indians carry voter ID cards or passport please.
- Visit a real Bodo village.
- Visit Kalamati. You can also see and visit Bhutan briefly.
- Excursions: Pay a visit to Majuli, Jorhat and Guwahati.
- You can book with Root Bridge Foundation for great trips across North East India
- Also check the website of Assam Tourism for more travel inspiration.
HOW TO REACH DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM?
The venue of Dwijing Festival at Bongaigaon is just 3 hours away from Guwahati via baby bottom smooth roads. Guwahati has a bus station , railway station and airport, all of which are connected to many cities in India. Bongaigaon also has a neat railway station.
BEST TIME TO VISIT DWIJING FESTIVAL, BONGAIGAON, BODOLAND, ASSAM
Dwijing festival happens annually in the last week of December. You can ring in the New Year at the festival ground. I did! The third edition of Dwijing Festival started from 27th December, 2018 to 7th January, 2019. Keep tabs on their website for the dates.
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