Virtual exhibition on ‘original tea makers from Northeast’

KOLKATA, 21 May: Banglanatak dot com has launched an exhibition on the “original tea makers of India – the Singpho and Tangsa communities from Northeast India – available on Google Arts & Culture,” according to a release.

“The exhibition’s content generation and curation have been possible with support from the US department of state in carrying out an in-depth socio-cultural study of selected ethnic communities of Arunachal Pradesh. The programme, ‘Safeguarding of traditional culture and lifestyle of indigenous people in Arunachal Pradesh for sustainable development’, was sponsored by the US department of state under the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, with funding provided by the US government,” the release stated.

“With this new virtual exhibition, users will be able to learn about the original tea makers of India – the Singpho and the Tangsa communities of northeastern India – specifically eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The exhibit also introduces the readers to theĀ  traditional tea making process of these indigenous communities, and how native tea was introduced to the British by the Singphos.

“The exhibit focuses on the age-old rich cultural traditions and knowledge of ethnic communities of India and their sustainable practices,” the release said.

One specially curated virtual exhibition has been developed for online visitors. “The digital story narrates the history of indigenous tea, the cultural and natural landscape of the Tangsas and Singphos, practice of indigenous tea making by the Singpho and Tangsa communities, much before the British introduced industrial tea for trading, association of tea with Buddhism and its folklore, and how indigenous tea making inside bamboo tubes is still actively practiced by these native communities,” it said.

“The exhibition celebrates the unique process of making smoked bamboo tea from native tea plants that can be preserved and used for many years, and their most unique and lesser known tradition of making bamboo tea which they consume even today. The native tea used to grow wild in their hilly forest regions and they drank tea as a medicinal drink. Today, they have organised household level tea gardens from where they pluck the leaves and process to make tea.

“While India is world-famous for its tea and has a huge share in tea business both domestic and export, it is fascinating to learn about tea in India before the British,” the release stated.

Banglanatak dot com director Ananya Bhattacharya thanked the US consulate general in Kolkata “for making research and documentation of unique cultural traditions and knowledge of nature of indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh.”

Kolkata-based US Consulate’s Public Affairs Officer Adrian Pratt said, “We are extremely proud of our association with Banglanatak dot com and the important work they do. This programme, administered as a part of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, will leave a lasting legacy of cultural preservation and economic empowerment.”