Rongali, a three-day festival promoting tourism and showcasing the essence of Assam's diverse culture is a concerted effort to create a niche in the country's annual tourism festival circuit attracting people from across the country and abroad, the organisers say.
The festival is showcasing traditional houses, food, music, dance, lifestyle of the different local communities such as Bodo, Mising, Karbi Dimasa, Tiwa, Sonowal Kachari, Singpho, Deuri, Tai Phake, Thengal Kachari, Ahom, Bhatia and others.
Around 35 colourful dance forms, mask-making workshop from Samaguri Sattra in Majuli, Mati Akhara, Bhaona, Bihu workshop, musical performances and photography exhibitions are some of the major highlights of the festival.
The festival also aims to develop the Brahmaputra riverfront as a major centre for aero-sports with enthusiasts from all over the country participating in parasailing, paramotoring, hot air-modelling.
Ten pilots from across the country are participating in the event to popularise Assam as a destination for adventure sports, said the festival's chief organiser Shyamkanu Mahanta.
Another attraction is the traditional Dragon Boat race or 'Naokhela' along with traditional local sports of the state in collaboration with Assam Directorate of Sports.
"We also aim to make Guwahati-the hub of music with India's best rock bands and musical talents performing each evening", Mahanta said.
Rock bands like Parikrama, Euphoria, Bollywood singer Ash King, YouTube sensation Arjun from London and North Esst talents such as Joi Barua, Zubeen Garg, Alobo Naga and Band and India's top DJs Nucleya, Teri Miko and Zaeden are performing during the festival, which began on February 3.
"Assam's tourism potential and portraying the culture of 'Bor Axom'- the traditional cultural unity among the different tribes and communities are the focus of the festival," Mahanta said.
Guwahati is the gateway to the northeast but it is really unfortunate that the state "does not have a distinct festival to attract tourists. We are organising Rongali to change that perception," he said.
The organisers have reached out to tour operators, travel writers along with hotel associations to ensure that there is a steady flow of tourists during future editions of the festival, General Secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Assam (HRAA) Tridip Sharma said.
The festival would strive to provide a complete view of the state's culture, traditions, lifestyle, cuisine, sports and other facets of the different tribes and communities making up the greater Assamese society, he said.
"Assam needs a festival on the lines of Nagaland's Hornbill Festival and Rongali is expected to fill in the vaccuum and make a nation-wide impact", President of Assam Tour Operators Association (ATOA) Sanjiv Goswami said.
The festival is being organised by socio-cultural organisatoon Trend MMS in association with Hotel and Restaurant Association of Assam, Tour Operators Association of Assam and Assam tourism department.