With rapid urbanisation through out Assam, the traditional cultural roots of these tribal societies are getting detached from their origin. However, Jon Beel is an exception, where the culture of Tiwas is still visible.
Jon Beel mela, the three days long Tiwa tribal festival is unique in itself. Here, people from the hills of Jaintia (Meghalaya) and Karbi Anglong (Assam) come to barter goods, fish, fruits and vegetables with the local people of the plains. That is the most attractive traditional part of this annual festival.
Apart from that, the monarch “King Gobha” of the Tiwa dynasty has eighteen (18) kings of different neighbouring communities under his umbrella. The annual tax collection also ceremonially started at the Jon Beel Mela after first days’ community fishing festival.
“We are happy that our long pending demand of the society to financially support the kings of our community is fulfilled,” said Jor Singh Bordoloi, one of the senior officials at the Jon Beel Mela. Everyone hopes that the government will take more such steps in future with a view to bring the indigenous tribals at a higher platform to showcase their history and tradition to the outer world.
Rita Choudhury, the most recent name among the Sahitya Academy award winners from Assam (2008), got the award for her novel on the life of the Tiwa kings of olden days, namely, ‘Deo Langkhui (Divine Sword)’. She was also present at the ceremonial function of Jon Beel Mela and honoured by the Tiwa king.
The Tiwa kings of today, who are general civilians of the independent India with symbolic title of ‘King’, draw high respect in their tribal society, and have now got an annual grant as from the state government for the first time after independence. But there are still many miles to go to protect the indigenous cultures and traditions of Assam and other Northeastern states.