My Experience of living with Galo Tribe in Basar
Basar observed the third edition of their yearly festival, Basar Confluence this year. During the course of Bascon Confluence, I stayed in one of the villages of Basar called New Bam. While I cannot stop talking about my experience of attending the confluence. It is incomplete without mentioning my incredible stay in the New Bam village. Basar houses a number of villages namely New Bam, Sago, Paggi etc. The whole of Basar is inhabited by Galo tribe. Galo tribe is one of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Basar doesn’t have any hotels or homestays. So when this time the organizing committee GRK decided to invite bloggers and journalists to cover the festival, they had a real challenge in terms of lodging logistics. Basar is unscathed from tourist influx. Reasons why I wouldn’t be surprised if you are hearing the name for the first time.
The organizing committee decided to introduce the concept of homestays in Basar.
The locals were very apprehensive about letting a stranger in their house. It took some convincing but finally, a few families from various villages of Basar agreed to it. And that’s how I landed up in a picturesque bamboo house in New Bam Village. It was cloudy, the weather was windy and chilly. I was frozen to the bone. Quietly opened the cold wrought iron gate, its creaking sound alerted the people and I see my host, Mr Logam Bam. In that chilly evening of Basar, his smile warmed my heart. He and his son rushed to take our luggage. We went straight to the fireplace. After having a little refreshment, our host offered to take us out for the village walk. The food gave us some energy and we immediately got out to see the little hamlet.
New Bam Village looks exactly like the pictures we used to draw as kids.
A picturesque setting with rustic brown bamboo houses with slanting roofs dotted with trees laden with bright oranges is an absolute visual delight. The outcast skies and dense green mountains at the backdrop perfectly complemented the bone-chilling cold. The village house close to 45 families and it is just like one huge joint family. They celebrate festivals together, help each other build houses and know each and everyone by their names. It was heartwarming to see every single person greeting out host with his name. Of course, they all had a lot of questions around the alien entities accompanying him. He answered all of them with his warm smile plastered over his face all the time.
Our host told us a lot of interesting stories and cultural trivia around Galo tribe.
The most interesting one was around their names. The son’s name starts with the last two syllables of father’s name. For example, my host’s name is Logam Bam and his son’s name is Gamgae Bam and his son’s (whenever he has) name would start with Gae. So when you tell your name to an elderly person he would immediately know who your father is. It is interesting in its own way. Another interesting aspect about the Galo tribe is that every generation is associated with a number. The number keeps decreasing by a single digit with every generation. Like my host’s number is 26 and his son’s number is 25.
That evening stroll was full of revelation about the village and Galo tribe.
Basar Confluence lasted for three days and throughout that period we use to leave for the Bascon site right after the breakfast and come back by the dinner time. But I looked forward to the morning view from my small window every day. Enjoying the morning tea in the bamboo sitting area was an everyday ritual. I looked forward to the dinner time because there was always something surprising my vegetarian soul. Vegetarians are a scarcity in that part of the country and hence the experimentation with food.
The dinner time was also special because of their special dining area. A fireplace in the middle surrounded by small seats to sit, eat and regale over conversations. Right above the fire, there is another interesting setup which has different levels. They use the flat surface to spread out the grains so that it can be dried off with the controlled heat coming from the fireplace. The way the setup can be moved to different levels can put a lot of civil engineers to shame. In the same area, all the Mithun’s head are kept on display along with other essentials that the Galo men use when they go out farming and harvesting.
After the Bascon was over I extended my stay at the homestay for one more day.
I had planned to stroll around the village one more time, eat Maggie in the garden, sip the evening tea with Logam Bam ji and just talk about their lives in more detail. My plans for spending a leisure day in New Bam village was out of the window, but all for good reasons.
I was told my one of the Bascon’s organizers that they will take me to a waterfall which is in a nearby village. I couldn’t be happier as I was going to see another village of Basar. 20 minutes of drive and 20 min on foot and we had arrived at the Diime-Diite waterfall in Pagi Village. The waterfall was ginormous and it was suddenly cold and windy.
We spent some time sitting in the makeshift seats made of bamboo in front of the waterfall. We decided to move the moment we realize that it was sunset time. On my way back to the New Bam village I saw the most gorgeous sunset. Throughout my stay, I was busy at the Bascon site and it was mostly cloudy, so there was no clear sunset yet. This was the last day in Basar and I got to witness my most favourite natural phenomenon. Guess this was my parting gift from Basar.
I urge you to come to Basar.
It is located in the West Siang district of 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. If not for all of these come to relax and unwind and regale yourself with an interesting cultural extravaganza.
Galo people are warm and even though there are no hotels and homestays in Basar hospitality runs in their blood. Living inside a Galo house, eating with them and listening to their interesting stories has been my most rewarding experiences of 2018.
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.
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