FALCON FESTIVAL 2015
(VOLUME 1, ISSUE 3) ISSN 2455 – 2135
By – TEAM EXOTIC NORTHEAST
FALCON FESTIVAL 2015, UMRANGSO, DIMA HASAO, ASSAM
31st October -1st November, 2015
The stage was all set at Umrangso in Dima Hasao district of Assam, India for the winged guest, the one with the highest migratory route, from Siberia to come for their sojourn in the beautiful picturesque North Eastern India en route to their final destination to South Africa and Kenya. But this time, with a difference. Not to kill, not to massacre and sell in the local market; this time the people of Umrangso, thanks to Blue Hills Society(an NGO based in Haflong), are eagerly waiting to celebrate the joy of arrival of this winged guest. People from different parts of the region flocked at Umrangso at the spot eagerly waiting for the time in the afternoon. We, from the Exotic North East team also waited eagerly along with the local people, the forest staff and other visitors from different parts of the region.
And at around 3 in the afternoon, the first sighting occurred when a forest official pointed to the sky. Yes, the Amur Falcons have arrived, the faces of the onlookers beamed with joy. The shutters from the cameras started getting busy. First, a single Amur Falcon was sighted in the sky, followed by another, and then a few more, all travelling from a similar direction. Then all of a sudden, the onlookers were awestruck to see the magical moment as the sky above our heads was filled with lakhs of Amur Falcons circling around. This was the moment which anyone present there could only describe. We sat and observed from under the pine trees as they moved in circles in the sky descending bit by bit for the next one hour or so until it was dark before alighting on the pine trees. It was the most beautiful evening experienced by all present there amidst the pine trees by the Umrong River with the hills on the other side and the blue sky filled with Amur Falcons above us. A breath- taking view, indeed.
It was too dark all of a sudden to see anything and the forest guards guided our way to outside the forest without whom we would have been lost. We asked one of the forest officials about any protection being given to the Amur Falcons. The official informed that nowadays they guard the entire area all throughout the night to see that no killing of these Falcons take place. Also, he added that with organisation of the Amur Falcon Festival, the local people have become aware of the importance of the bird and seeing the tourist inflow to the region, they too have taken to protecting this winged guest from Siberia.
We could learn from the local people, that earlier, the local people, unaware of the fact that they came from such a distance, used to trap the Amur Falcons using nets and sell it in the local market for a meager amount of Rs. 10 per bird.
The Falcon Festival has notable significance due to the fact that it was hosted in a part of Assam of which very little was known to the people of the state itself, let alone be the rest of the country or the world. The majestic place of Dima Hasao was torn between guns and corruption by militancy and by every successive governments. Now with the underground organisations taking the peace route, the picture have changed, which reflected in this very festival itself.
The event was hosted by the local youths coming under the banner of Blue Hills Society and wherein this web magazine Exotic NorthEast have played a pivotal role by being their online partner and thereby spreading the message to the world. The very first event itself was a successful one as we received a huge response and queries from different parts of the country and by many wildlife enthusiasts around the world who were in constant touch with us through this webpage as well as our Exotic North East Facebook page.
Umrangso is a small town located in the Dima Hasao district of Assam along the Assam-Meghalaya border. The Khandong dam has been constructed there and it also has a very large cement factory. The road condition however is very poor at some stretch due to regular plying of very heavy vehicles from the cement factory. It is a 5 hour drive from Guwahati situated 250 kms from it.
The Falcon festival would be an annual event with the people of Umrango eagerly waiting for the Amur Falcons to return, next year, with more hope, with more joy, to come out and celebrate with people from other places of the world along with music and dance and food.
For the rest of us, who knew only the earlier violence torn Dima Hasao and are apprehensive of visiting the place, one thing that has transpired from the event should be borne in mind, is that, the guns have been replaced by guitars…
- – Please click on the photographs for a better view.
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