Assam is rich in culture, ethnic groups, languages/dialects spoken and literature. It is known for Assam tea, large and old petroleum resources and Assam silk and for its rich biodiversity. Assam has successfully conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction, along with the tiger and numerous species of birds, and it provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant.
There are diversified important traditional festivals in Assam. Bihu is the most important and common and celebrated all over Assam. It is the Assamese new year celebrated in April of the Gregorian calendar. Durga Puja is another festival celebrated with great enthusiasm. Muslims celebrate two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) with much eagerness all over Assam.
Music, Dance and Drama:
Assam has rich tradition of performing arts. Ankia Naat (Onkeeya Naat) is a traditional Vaishnav dance-drama (Bhaona) form popular since 15th century AD It makes use of large masks of gods, goddesses, demons and animals and in between the plays a Sutradhar (Xutrodhar) keeps on telling the story.
The Bihu dance and Hucory performed during the Bohag Bihu, Kushan nritra of Rajbongshi’s, Bagurumba and Bordoicikhla dance of Bodos, Mishing Bihu, Banjar Kekan performed during Chomangkan by Karbis are some of the major folk dances. Sattriya (Sotriya) dance related to Vaishnav tradition is a classical form of dance. Moreover, there are several other age-old dance-forms such as Barpeta’s Bhortal Nritya, Deodhoni Nritya, Ojapali, Beula Dance, Ka Shad Inglong Kardom, Nimso Kerung, etc. The tradition of modern moving theatres is typical of Assam with immense popularity of many large theatre groups such as Kohinoor, Srimanta Sankardev, Abahan, Bhagyadevi, Hengul, Rajmahal, Itihas etc.
At the same time musical tradition is also rich. Folk songs and music related to Bihu and other festivals dates back to time-immemorial. Borgeet, the popular Vaishnav songs are written and composed in 15th century. Assam has large numbers of traditional musical instruments including several types of drums, string instruments, flutes, cymbals, pipes, etc.
Typically, an Assamese plate would contain bhaat (rice) with dal (lentils), masor jool (fish curry), with mangso (meat curry) or xaak and bhaji (herbs and vegetables). Rice is one of the main dish in Assam, and variety of different rices are grown and eaten in different ways, roasted, grounded, boiled or just soaked. Fish curries made of rou, illish, or chitol are the most favorite. If not a curry, simply fried fish. Birds like ducks and pigeon are also used in dishes. Pork and Mutton dishes are mainly popular among the younger generation.
Another favourite combination can be looci (puffed bread), a curry which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and asar (pickle). Two main characteristic of a traditional meal in Assam are Khar and Tenga. A class of dishes named after the main ingredient Khar and a sour dish is aTenga. Khorisa (bamboo shoot) are used at times for flavours in curries. They also can be preserved and made into pickles. Koldil (Banana Flower) and Squash are also cooked into delicious sabji’s. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils.