Everything That You Need to Know About Basar Confluence
When 2018 started one of the major destinations on my travel wish list was the North East part of the country. Didn’t zero of the state or city, anywhere in the North East and I would be happy about it. So you can imagine my happiness going leaps and bounds when the invitation to attend Basar Confluence landed in my inbox. There are energies out in the universe conspiring in my favour. When I got invited for the confluence I was intrigued as well because I had never heard of this confluence before. I started searching and reading more and more about it. An hour of googling and I knew I was in for an experience of a lifetime. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and leave for Basar to attend the third edition of BasarConfluence.
A little about Basar in Arunachal Pradesh
If you are wondering where Basar is, it is located in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. A mere mention of Arunachal Pradesh is generally accompanied by its popular destinations like Tawang, Bhalukpong, Ziro, Roing etc. Basar was a new name for me and rightly so because it is one of the many unexplored and untouched places in Arunachal Pradesh. Basar lives up to its natural beauty more than you would expect. It’s pastoral paddy fields, verdant forests and gorgeous gardens of oranges, pineapples and kiwis will make you fall in love with it.
This hill hamlet is a paradise for people looking for an escape from the chaotic touristy places. Also the fact that it picturesque beyond words helps to bring out the dormant photographer in you. And if this gorgeous village is hosting a cultural confluence then how can you say no to it. And that’s how my journey to Basar started, to attend its yearly event, Basar Confluence. Set at the backdrop of beautiful golden paddy fields with pristine blue skies, Basar is a visual delight.
A little About Basar Confluence
Basar Confluence started in February 2017 and the second edition happened in the same year in the month of November. The Confluence is a celebration of art, music, traditions and culture of not just Arunachal Pradesh but the whole of the North East part of the country. Basar Confluence (BasCon) is an initiative of the local non-profit organization GRK (Gumin Rego Kilaju). The aim is to bring Basar’s artistic skills and rich folklore to the world’s notice and promote it’s cultural and tourism potential.
The confluence is organized by the whole of Basar and its adjoining villages which is majorly inhabited by the Galo tribe. The third edition of the confluence took place from 19th – 21rst November 2018. I was very fortunate to attend the third edition of Basar Confluence (BasCon 3.0). This was my first time in North East and after such a debut my longing has only grown.
The site for the third edition of Basar Confluence was right at the confluence of Hei and Kidi river in Basar.
The confluence also deserves special accolades because it was completely plastic free. Usage of plastic in any form was prohibited on the festival ground, which makes it one of the few environment-friendly festivals in India. The festival aims at boosting the socio-economic condition of people of Basar along with promoting a sustainable lifestyle. Every structure at the BasCon site right from the stage to the bridge (over the rivers) to the interesting tree houses, it was all made of bamboo by the locals from Basar. The tenacity of efforts put in by the locals is hard to miss.
What to Expect at Basar Confluence
I don’t even know where to begin with this. The festival spoils you with the numerous choices of folk dance, cultural events, traditional music, traditional sports and lots of unique food options. The first day of BasCon and I literally went colour blind seeing beautiful ladies clad in bright colourful traditional Galo dresses. Their colourful bead and metallic jewellery were my constant source of distraction, all in a good sense. I was so intrigued with their ornaments that I ended up buying a few of them for myself.
If folk dance is something that interests you then you are in for a ride of a lifetime. Join the swaying crowd of dancers as they perform Erap Chanam, Nyida Parik, Yaan Kabnam and many other diverse tribal dances. Immerse yourself in local folklore when a Galo shaman leads the Ponung by the campfire at the end of the night. You will have a tough time deciding which one you like more.
Just when you are overwhelmed with one performance another is lined up to regale your mind body and soul. The authentic music, the simplicity of cultural dances and the spirit of all the artists will leave you with goosebumps. In that moment you forget everything and just soak in the honesty and dedications of the artists and the performances.
Basar Confluence is more than just cultural performances.
The cultural performances are not limited to just life and festivities of Arunachal Pradesh. The festival also showcases myriad of cultural performances from other major tribes of North East. To add more diversity and flavour to the festival various music maestros like Barmer Boys, Fiddler’s Omak Komut Collective and Nikom Riba were also invited. By including community events like traditional fishing, Live Museum, Cycling for Nature, traditional sports, treks, nature trails and birding trip the confluence makes a wholehearted effort in putting up a holistic show for locals as well as the tourists. Another interesting concept to lookout in the festival is the Artists Residency.
What is Artists Residency?
Artists residency is one of the major chapters of Basar Confluence. A handful of artists are selected from varied areas like Photography, Painting, writing and filmmaking. These artists then spend a month in Basar the villagers and come up with projects. The projects created by them are then exhibited in the festival. The documentary film created by the decorated filmmaker Subhas Maskara was the highlight of this year’s Artists Residency exhibition. So if you are an artist in any of the above-mentioned areas then Basar Confluence is an amazing platform to showcase your work. Keep a tab on the next year’s confluence schedule, if you wish to be a part of BasCon’s artist residency program.
Enjoy Local delicacies at Basar Confluence
While you can easily go into a cultural coma, the interesting food and drink spread will keep you alive and kicking. A huge section of the BasCon site has been allocated for just eating and drinking. There are numerous stalls set up by the locals for selling food and drinks. You can spot pretty much all the local dishes, exotic worms, dishes cooked inside the bamboo, chicken and even a mouse. Don’t forget to sip on all the varieties of Poka (local rice beer) while you binge on all the amazing food at Basar Confluence. Life can be a little difficult for vegetarians but trust me you will survive.
My Experience of attending Basar Confluence
My experience was nothing less than sublime. The three-day cultural extravaganza featuring a plethora of art, culture, and music has made my heart full. The confluence is not just an event for the art connoisseurs. It is also a great opportunity for the tourists to get to know the people and their culture in a much better way. I cannot stress enough on the impact of the festival on my knowledge about the place, Galo tribe and their yearly revelries. Events like these remind you of the vast cultural and natural diversity of your own country. Though I am back to the regular grind of life Basar and its people have a piece of my heart. I can’t wait to go back next year to witness the fun and frolics of the event one more time.
How to Reach Basar
The nearest airport is Dibrugarh. From there it’s a six-hour road journey to Basar.
You can also fly to Guwahati and take an overnight train to Silapathar. From there another five hours of a road journey.
Where to Stay in Basar
Till last year, Basar didn’t have any proper hotels or homestays. But for the third edition, after a lot of convincing from the Gumin Rego Kilaju (GRK) community, the locals agreed to rent out few rooms from their houses. I was putting up in one of such houses and I had a long chat with my host about their apprehensions. But after hosting us, they are now thinking of setting up the homestay on a permanent basis. The concept of the homestay is very new to Basar. But the locals are warming up to it and a major credit for this change goes to the BasarConfluence.
One of the many objectives of the festival is to uplift the tourism potential of Basar. The influx of tourists is only going to increase in the future. The locals have felt the impact on tourism after the successful culmination of the festival. They are expecting more and more people to visit Basar. And hence they are happy to rent out their places to the travellers. If you want to book the homestay where I lived let me know in the comments. I will pass on the contact info of my amazing hosts.
Why visit Basar/attend Basar Confluence
Visit Basar for its people and its impeccable natural beauty. It is said that the best way to tread through a place is through locals. The Galo tribe of Basar will warm your hearts with their humbling smiles and wonderful hospitality. The festival is a good way to add more colourful and fun elements into your exploration of Basar. The fact that Basar is yet untouched makes it even more desirable. The picture-perfect settings of paddy fields with the backdrop of greens and blues are every photographer’s delight. Basar has a lot of trekking trail and hike trails for adventure lovers as well. The place has something for everyone. Irrespective of what you are seeking, you will get it all in Basar. It is my humbling request to all of my readers to put Basar on their travel wishlist.
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