Assam has the largest number of tribes that vary in tradition, culture, dresses, and way of life. Hence after our culinary explorations of the Rabha Tribe, we are visiting the Bormarjong (Umswai) village in West Karbi Anglong district of Assam to get familiar with the food traditions of the Tiwa tribe.
In this enriching journey across the serene, green, and clean landscape of this tiny village we were guided by our host Debojit Malang and Monalee. Debojit, a student and a native of the Umswai village, volunteered to take us around his village introducing us to the multifaceted culture of his community. He also invited us for a home-cooked meal comprising of the regular Tiwa dishes.
On reaching the village Debojit’s family welcomed us with a handwoven Gamcha, which is a part of their traditional attire. We sat down for a small chaat during which he gave us a brief overview of their culture, tradition, and practices.
We then went to the other part of the house where rice beer was being prepared by an elderly woman. Ju is the traditional alcoholic beverage of the Tiwas. Prepared for almost all the households in the area, it is the staple drink of this industrious community. It is made with rice that is fermented with natural herbs and then cooked. The vapour that comes out from the boiling rice is passed through a hollow bamboo tube where it gets condensed and trickles down a thin cloth rope into a bottle. The drink has a sweet and sour taste.
We came back to the house and tasted the Ju and also had a humble breakfast of boiled black Mai Sala with sugar. Then we went ahead to check the Samadhi which is essentially a wooden structure where the menfolk of the village gather to celebrate both religious and non-religious occasions or have a meeting or just to spend time together. The women are prohibited from entering it.
Then we went to see the memorial of the famous warrior king of the Tiwas, Mohon Phathor. The stone structures symbolized the king and his coterie of ministers. After being done with it we went back to Debojit’s house for lunch. Just like the people and their humble lifestyle, lunch was also a simple affair. The unassuming meal comprising of steamed red rice, dal, and a dry chicken preparation was divine. The freshness of the ingredients elevated its taste. In no time we polished off everything in the plate that was cooked with so much warmth. Soon it was time to depart. The visit to this village was truly gratifying. Heartfelt thanks to Debojit and Monalee for showing us around with such patience and enthusiasm.