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Top 5 Traditional Bamboo practices followed by the Northeastern states

Bamboo has an extraordinary usage and fulfils the requirements of the individuals located in Northeast India. The top 5 traditional uses of bamboo in Northeast are for preparing japi, used to prepare local delicacies, bamboo tumblers, hollow bamboo and drip irrigation system using bamboo.

Chintu Das
Cooking food in Green Bamboo
Cooking food in Green Bamboo

Bamboo has an extraordinary usage and fulfills the requirements of the individuals located in Northeast India. The modest grass can grow up to a stature of 20 to 30 feet in just 20 to 25 days of time, while for doing the same, trees take nearly a decade or more. The humid climate along with the wet atmosphere and fertile soil further offers the driving force behind the development of this plant species in the region. 

Me being born and brought up in Assam, I have seen the adaptability of bamboo. It is utilized to manufacture solid flood-proof homes, Khako (bridge made using bamboo), and specialty arrangements like straws, jugs etc.

Now let’s look at the top 5 traditional uses of bamboo in the Northeast:

- Japi (Nature’s umbrella):

Traditionally used by farmers for protection from sun and rain while farming in the fields, japi has an unique significance in the region, This conical shaped hat is made from bamboo and palm leaves locally called as tokou paat. The name “japi” is taken from Jaap (bundle of palm leaves).

Nearly every household in the Northeastern region has a japi lying somewhere in the house. Even colourful and vibrant japi’s are available in the market used for decoration in people’s houses. Japi’s are also used as a prop while celebrating “Bihu”, native festival of Assam.

Local delicacy (Bamboo Shoot)

Bamboo shoots are edible and easily available in the region. Once you taste it, you’ll feel the real taste of the region. Bamboo shoot adds a punch of flavor to the bonafide dishes cooked in the area. Broadly utilized across various Northeastern states, this simple ingredient can be devoured fresh, dried, and fermented as well. Dishes, achaar and curries made utilizing bamboo shoot are yummy and very nutritious as the same is low on calorie and sugar content while being wealthy in fiber.

The bamboo shoot is essentially a new sprout of the bamboo plant which commonly develops during the months of February and March. It is best collected when it is around 10 to 12 inches tall. The solidified covers are eliminated in order to get the shoot out. Once the shoot is out, you can either eat it fresh or store it for further usage.

Bamboo Tumblers (Basar, Arunachal Pradesh)

Basar village located in Arunachal Pradesh is a “plastic free zone” and has a special connection with nature. The people from the region use bamboo tumblers to serve rice beer locally known as 'poka'. The locals themselves drink using the  bamboo tumblers and use a rope to sling it effectively on their shoulders. These bamboo tumblers are likewise utilized in the local celebrations in the region. The tumblers are generally utilized instead of plastic cups. This is something that any region of our country can opt for and make our country much more cleaner and tidy.

Preparing food using Hollow bamboo’s: 

The most unique use of bamboo is to make “sunga pitha”i.e. rice cooked inside hollow bamboo. Once the rice is cooked, the bamboo is split into half, and then emerges the beloved rice pitha inside it.

Bamboo hollows can be used for preparing meat as well. The meat is enveloped in plantain leaves and stuffed inside a bamboo and left over burning coal for cooking. The taste of the cooked meat is further enhanced by the burnt bamboo. To use bamboo for cooking, split the bamboo from the top and keep the bottom part intact and leave it submerged in water overnight. Next day remove the water and stuff it with the food you want to cook. The overnight process of keeping it in water helps in the overall cooking process.

Drip method of irrigation using Bamboo:

Farmers from the Khasi and the Jaintia slopes have been utilizing bamboo to make pipes for a viable drip water system framework. Water from streams enters the bamboo pipes and is utilized by the farmers to water their betel nut and other crops. 

Building the framework is easy and can be achieved by splitting the bamboo into half and then connecting these split sections to form a network to carry water to the fields. Bamboo of changing sizes can be utilized in the framework to control the progression of the water.

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