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MOSAIC OF CULTURES
By Gin Gangte        

In a step towards promoting friendship, brotherhood and better understanding, the All India Tribal Students' Association (AITSA) organised the 6th Mosaic of Cultures -cum- Decade Celebration at Convocation Hall (Arts Faculty), University of Delhi on March 2, 2002 with much gusto and extravaganza. The celebration witnessed an impressive gathering where people cuting across ethnic and national boundaries thronged the rendezvous to mark the occasion. The programme was held with the help of Department of Development of North East Region, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Although, the weather was lousy and the sky was dimmed, however, the cruelty of the weather God does not have any bearing on the enthusiastic participants. Hundreds of youngsters were seen moving with festive look in their own traditional attires. Never before, the University witnessed such a colourful gathering. All roads in the Capital virtually led to Delhi University, atleast for the day.

Mosaic of Cultures is an indigenous cultural festival which is organised almost every year. In fact, it is the only festival which brings the whole Mongoloid people of South East Asia region on one common platform. Way back in 1993, the festival was organised for the first time with much enthusiasm and an event to be remembered by all and sundry. In a statement, the Association said, "For the last couple of years, the Mosaic of Cultures have attracted people from all walks of life for its rich and fabulous representation of cultures both from the ethnic indigenous people of India and abroad. The prime objective of the programme is to bring the indigenous people of India closer to their counterparts from the rest of the country through cultural integration. Moreover, the programme aims at narrowing down the feeling of alienation thus furthering the cause of national integration throughout India".

Oscar Fernandes, general secretary, All India Congress Committee (AICC) was the Chief Guest of the occasion. In his adress, he expressed his concern about the well-being of tribal students in Delhi. The Congress leader while assuring all possible helps emphasised the need to empower tribal youth to the extend of giving reservation on economic criteria in Delhi. Mr. Fernandes also talk about the alienation of the Mongoloid community and admitted that the issue has been brought to his knowledge by K. Zou, President of the Association on several occasions. In a lighter vein, the Congress leader stated that, "I am so delighted to see you in such large number and I feel I'm a part of you". Indentifying himself with the gathering, he took out his mouth organ (harmonica) and jived the song of "we shall overcome" in addition to his thunderous tribal way of shouting.

The All India Tribal Students' Association was formed in 1992 at International Students' House, University of Delhi. Its main objective is to safeguard the interests of the tribals and the indigenous communities of India and fight for their Constitutional Rights. Speaking of the occasion, K. Zou, supremo of AITSA called upon the gathering youth and students to be honest to themselves and serve for the cause of the people rather than misleading the younger students in the name of tribe, clan or region. Mr. Zou strongly asserted that, "AITSA can only continue its further activities only through sacrifice and commitment". He is also hopeful that, education will definitely act as a tool in eradicating tribalism or ethnic hatred. "A day will come when we (Mongoloid) will stand on equal footings with our counterparts in all spheres of life if we stand united" echoed the student leader.

The festival was a celebration full of bonhomie. A kaleidoscope of rainbow cultures from diverse spectrum of people were witnessed on the day. Indigenous culture and traditions of Himalayan belt were prominently displayed and showcased on the occasion. Cultural troupes belonging to the Chins and Chaws of Myanmar, the Tibetans, Tripuris, Assameses, Arunachalis, Zeliangrong Nagas, Meetei's Khamba-Thoibi dance, the Simtes of Manipur et al presented their cultural riches. In ethnic fashion show, the Apatani Couple of Arunachal Pradesh walked away with the laurel of 'best couple' nailing down the claim of other contestants.

Presentation of Awards and Honours was another significant part of the celebration. The "Tribal Youth Leaders' Awards" instituted by the Association were conferred upon youth activists who have sacrificed their youthful years and worked for the integration of the North East. The Awardees includes: Gondaimei, D.M. Touthang, P.H. Laldawnglian, Lalilung Kamei, Chaw Monseng, Dr. Ngilyangtaleng, Bamin Tari, IRS, among others came froward to receive their prestigious awards.

The programme was punctuated with songs, music and dance which were an added attraction of the celebration. As was expected, the omnipresent Drixian 'Musical' Empire took the gathering gaga with their numbers. Choreography from 'High Over Heel' led by Juliana Touthang was another limelight which received standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience. The spirited celebration came to an end with hundreds voice presenting "we shall overcome..." in unison.


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