Exploring the Timeless Traditions of the Kaibarta-Jalkeots community in South Kamrup

In the verdant countryside of Modhupur, Kukurmara of South Kamrup, a mere 50 km from Guwahati, you will experience a life deeply entwined with the rhythms of nature. Here, among the Kaibarta-Jalkeots, an aboriginal fishing community, of Lower Assam you are drawn into a serene pace of life. Not much would have changed since the time their ancestors harvested a livelihood from the rivers and wetland because even today, the Kaibartas continue to employ sustainable fishing techniques—bamboo traps like jakhei, kuk, polo or net-techniques like kosh and chepa. Some of them are so skilled that they even catch fish with bare hands.

Despite migration to Upper Assam during the medieval period, the community’s culture remains anchored in the undivided Kamrup region, the original homeland of the people. For them, fishing is more than an economic activity; it is a tradition that embraces a profound knowledge of the river & wetland ecosystem. Their way of life only enhances your rural Assam experience—which you can also peep into with the help of the largest cultural troupe of the Kaibarta-Jalkeot community, Kaibarta Dhulia Dol, Axom.

You can pre-arrange to watch a Maas Dhora Nritya (Fish Catching Dance) and traditional martial acrobatics along the Kolohi river bank, indulge in simple meals flavoured with local ingredients, or cruise the river on fishing boats. If you want an Instagram story that will go viral, learn to cast fishing nets on the Kolohi river which connect the river Kulsi—watching it unfurl through the air and submerge into the water. After swiftly retracting the net, capture quick photos again, before gently releasing the fish into the waters.

Simply sitting on the river bank is also enchanting. You will see small handcrafted dingis navigate diverse water landscapes. You might even witness river dolphins playing about. At Dora Beel, a scenic wetland with captivating views of passing trains, the sheer artistry of fishing with bamboo traps will hold you in thrall. In the mornings, go birdwatching here and follow it up with a refreshing glass of Assamese lemon juice at any home.

Learn about Kaibarta festivals including Bheldia Jol Puja where they worship the Water Spirit which is tied to the fishing calendar and marked by some delightful folk dances and martial acrobatics art forms, Marei Puja to worship Serpent Goddess, Hengar-Baah-Puja where they worship a bamboo grove to increase the fertility of the soil. You might especially want to be part of the Moho-ho or the Mosquito-Driving Festival that takes place on a full moon night in the Aghon month (November). A lively dance with a group of boys—led by one portraying a bear in dried banana leaves—rhythmically striking the ground with bamboo sticks and chanting “O Hari Moho-Ho!” as they move from house to house, seeking token offerings of rice or money, this fun festival even today remains a cherished tradition. And as you celebrate the community, you celebrate ecological balance and cultural continuity.

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