“Majuli”, the world’s largest riverine island situated in the heart of Assam, India, is a landmass extending up to an area of 352 square kilometers, surrounded by the river Brahmaputra in the south and rivers Kherkutia Xuti and Subansiri in the north, both of which are the sub-branches of the mighty Brahmaputra river. Apart from these tiny tidbits, there are other major unheard yet interesting facts about our own riverine island which will baffle your mind, and well yes fill your heart with pride as this island is in fact within your own state-Assam. So let’s have a look at those fascinating trivia associated with Majuli Island.
1. An island formed from continuous floods
The foremost unusual fact about this riverine island is its formation which took place more than 300 years ago. A massive catastrophic earthquake that struck the state in the 1750s forced the river Brahmaputra to cause excessive flooding which changed the course of the river to flow towards the south thus giving rise to heavy sedimentation. This way Majuli came into existence.
2. Small islets dotting Majuli island
Small islets called “Chaporis” are scattered all over the island. They form a picturesque small island due to the result of the continuous braiding system of the river. At present, there are 22 islets within Majuli Island.
3. The seat of the Neo-Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism
Majuli has been the abode of the Neo-Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism embodied by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva who pioneered this new branch of monotheist religion in the 15th century and constructed many satras (monasteries) in Majuli making it an important seat of Vaishnavism teachings. The first satra constructed in Majuli was and which still survive is the “Manikanchan Sanjog”
4. The island of mixed tribal ethnicity
Surprisingly, Majuli being the epitome of Neo Vaishnavite renaissance, it is still home to various ethnic tribal groups comprising of Deoris, Mising, Sonowal Kacharis, and Ahoms. Mising being the dominant tribal group here, each of the groups stays here in harmony preaching their own culture and tradition but Hinduism is a major religion followed here.
5. Majuli, the home of the mask making artisans
The mask-making culture is a visual treat for whoever pays a visit to this island to see this unusual, interesting and very vibrant, colorful display of colors. The art of mask making has its origin in satras started by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva, but now the craft is prevalent only to the devotees of Chamoguri satra in Majuli where the art is still practiced.
6. The only mode to reach the river island is by ferries
One can say it as the dismal state of governance or nature’s fury that the residents of Majuli Island have to take the help of local boatmen to ferry to the mainland due to the absence of a concrete road across the river. Even visitors visiting the island have no choice but to book a boat to reach the island.
7. Enjoy the spectacular festivals of the Mising: Ali Aye Ligang
As the Majuli Island is mostly inhabited by the Mising Tribe, one cannot miss seeing the colorful Ali Aye Ligang festival of the Misings which starts in the second week of February. One can get to taste many unheard food items prepared by the tribes here such as apong (rice beer), purang apin (rice wrapped in special leaves), pork, fish, and chickens dried roasted. The traditional Mising dance “Gumrang Soman” is a visual treat here.
8. Abode of Migratory birds
This serene and calm picturesque island of Assam is a paradise for migratory birds who flock to this island mostly during winters to nestle in the kingdom of God’s own country.
9. Majuli is fast disappearing into the depths of the mighty Brahmaputra
Every year, the mighty Brahmaputra engulfs a huge chunk of the beautiful island due to over flooding brought in by the river Brahmaputra. A massive part of the island is being eaten away by floods every year due to heavy rains washing away lives and homes along with the river.
Majuli has long been the pride of the state of Assam as well as for the country which garnered a lot of name and fame after it got itself registered in the Guinness Book of world records for being the world’s largest freshwater riverine island. Sadly, in recent years, flash floods have played catastrophic havoc in the lives of the local residents who have been displaced from their homes or are at the mercy of donations and reliefs brought in by NGOs and the state government. The future of Majuli Island remains so bleak that people will be forced to read some of its unheard and interesting facts only from blogs and articles rather than see for themselves the beauty of the nation’s pride.