After a great night sleep on board our river boat (Charaidew) we had a busy day ahead of us. Today we were moored off the island of Majuli in the middle of the Brahmaputra River. Majuli Island was once the largest river island in the world and it has its own road network, series of towns and its own culture. It could almost be a country in its own right when you compare its size to some European countries.
Our aim today was not to focus on wildlife, although we did see plenty of birdlife, but to try and see some of the cultural elements that make this place so interesting. We had arranged two monastery visits and at the second a traditional dance-drama had been arranged by the monks. The first monastery (Auniati) was not all that impressive but it certainly gave you an idea of what was involved and the way in which the monks lived and worshipped. These were Hindu monasteries so of course one had to take their shoes off and walk across the muddy floors barefoot.
The second monastery (Kamalabari), were the dance-drama was performed, was a little more historic but still consisted of a tin roof on the main prayer area. It is important to respect their beliefs and make sure you abide by the correct rules when entering the prayer buildings. One must take of their shoes before even entering the monastery's grounds and then when the prayer hall you must only walk around the edges and never cross the middle of the room. We all sat down around the edges of this large prayer hall when some of the older monks started to play the drums. Four young boys came out, looking very feminine, and performed this story telling dance which consisted of "extreme yoga".
A very interesting day and very different from the Gibbon Sanctuary the day before. This trip shall be as diverse as Assam is itself. I have attached a few photos below showing a couple of monks and a photograph of the dance performance.
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