Majuli: the renaissance of social sciences

Kaina V Zhimomi
Modern Institute of Teacher Education, Kohima

From Arunachal to Kolkata to Guwahati to Shilloi and Doyang, back to Kolkata and Guwahati and Loktak, we shortlisted a good number of places to visit for the Social Sciences Pedagogy Educational tour. The conundrum of finalizing the venue was predicted solely by our ability to money up with funds for the educational tour. At one point, the financial situation slipped into a tour-threatening comma, and some of us pitched for an educational tour of the Dzuu River. 

All credit to our charismatic and strong-willed supervisor, we managed to unanimously settle the location for our tour to Majuli Island [the world’s biggest river island]. We managed to scrape up a decent budget and booked the tickets for 33 handsome and beautiful members of Social Sciences pedagogy for the 6th of May. 

Morning came on the 6th of May and we rode past the hills of Kohima and made a steady descent to the plains of Dimapur. We reached the train station exactly at the scheduled time, as we always do in the college. Our reception by the other travellers could be paralleled to the entry of the main character in a blockbuster movie, credit to Ms. Vava for her beauty and grace .... And myno-brainer Handsomeness like you all guessed right. We boarded the train with all our stuff, well! Maybe not, but we have good photo editors in our Social Sciences pedagogy.... So, it's barely a hiccup. 

The train ride was nostalgic and evoked a paradox of emotions from the ‘90s era when we traveled with our “cousins”, who were our lovers ...a shoddy attempt at incognito. I digress......So! We arrived at Jorhat station on the dot. There was a bus waiting for us and in a classic train station reconnaissance, moved promptly and transported us to Nimatighat ferry port. 

The sight of the mighty Brahmaputra River made a lot of us dizzy but also summoned the BOSTINESS in many of us who have not had the privilege of witnessing that volume of water in life. I could hear someone say, “Ayaa! Cruise ship! Cruise ship! Khandan khan ke photo pathawo!”, At the sight of a steel ferry. After a scrumptious lunch, Madam Sevi [The pharmacist] pulled out a strip of AVOMINE and forced some of the members to down one to mitigate the seasickness. 

The ferry ride became surprisingly enjoyable after a couple of minutes and we took out our phones to document the experience for Instagram posts. We were offloaded at Majuli ferry port after 40 minutes and three local transporters dropped us to our “Enchanting Majuli” resort. Monjit was waiting for us with a smile that could melt titanium in 33 seconds [a second for each one of us]. Moi khansob laa Mon Jitishe, iman bhal host. 

One of the first things that stood apart in Majuli was this unique architectural design where houses were built on a ramp. The apparent reason was to mitigate the floods during monsoon seasons. We were housed in this beautiful and rustic traditional house constructed with bamboo with sizeable verandas to host the entire occupants. 

Evening dawned and we had traditional thalis for dinner. We scampered around in groups, snacked, and shared stories and jokes which invoked some occasional laughter that made our presence felt on the river island. After some good time of working up our dopamine levels, we called it a night. 

7th May, morning came and we treated ourselves to a light breakfast and scurried to prepare for our visit. Our transporters doubled as our guides to take us around the island for a tour. Our itinerary was already mapped out in advance. First was a monastery which was located in the quiet suburbs of the island. Although the majority of us were Christians, we exuded the principles of Secularism and respect for religious ideologies that are polar opposite to our beliefs. It was an opportunity for us to practice our preaching or walk the talk, as Social Sciences scholars.

Our next destination was unique and traditional to the islanders in Majuli. Traditional Mask-making institution was our second stop. We were allowed to witness the traditional mask-making process by some artisans and were invited for a small lecture on the history of mask-making, and how they earned a reputation that led them to earn the Padma Shree for their dedication to the craft. 

Lunch!  Everyone needed a refuel to get moving but we dropped by to visit a monastery on the way to our lunch destination. We were driven to a place that served authentic Assamese thalis and we devoured the food like it was our last meal before the apocalypse.  The next and final destination for the day was unique because we got to explore the anthropological side of our subject matter.

A hanging bamboo bridge greeted us and running below was a river which the locals called the “Small Brahmaputra “.  This was the river that wrapped around the island and joined the main Brahmaputra River downstream to create the Majuli island. We crossed the shaky bridge and on the other side was the village that hosted a group of tribals that migrated from Arunachal Pradesh. This village was called the “Mising Village “, because of the diaspora settlement from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

We walked around the village exploring and saw some interesting activities being performed within the village. There was some kind of gathering that looked like a major part of the community was involved but we avoided interference because it seemed exclusive and personal. The traditional weaving of Mekhalas by the womenfolk was the activity that caught our attention but the language barrier limited our interaction with the weavers. We took a couple of photos with the weavers as proof for the college administration, to convey that we meant serious business, with our Educational Tour programme.

We circled back to the hanging bridge, where everyone jumped into the wooden boats for a boating experience. It seemed like boating was one of the experiences that gathered a lot of interest among us. Titanic poses were recreated, but none of us seemed worthy, at least in terms of skin tone to fill the shoes of Jack but Ms. Vava easily passed to match the grace and beauty of Rose, as she stretched her beautiful and chiselledarms beside our 12 A.M coloured man Zenzen.

After enough Pictures were shot and our drinking water supplies were exhausted, we drove back to our resort with a rich experience and knowledge about the island of Majuli. One thing we missed or say our luck bailed on us is the sight of Dolphins in the main Brahmaputra River. We waited for a sight of Dolphins but, dolphins being an intelligent species decided to hide from Nagas....I suspect the Carps informed them about our love for proteins. 

Tired from the tour, we settled with our groups and the markets and chanced upon a KFC kiosk [Krishna Fried Chicken], which turned out to be surprisingly delicious. Some camps played Uno, some played music, and some socialised with people, living true to our subject of expertise Social Sciences.

On the 8th of May, we packed our belongings and bid adieu to the beautiful island of Majuli and its people. We reached Kohima around 8 pm. The educational tour to Majuli island was so productive in more than 100 ways. We worked as a team, everyone contributed to the success of the educational tour like a machine with multiple parts working in tandem. At the end of the Majuli experience, we came back refreshed, informed, more educated, etc. but most importantly, we came back learning about the need to appreciate diversity and live together in harmony. 

According to SSP 2022-2024, “Social Science is defined as the science of coming together irrespective of tribe, caste, race, personality types, gender, age, marital status, etc. And building and creating meaningful relationships that will last to eternity in cosmic history as memories, through different social activities and events, while simultaneously earning a B.Ed. degree in MITE”. 

And to wrap up the entire B.Ed. journey with a curtain call of Social Sciences Pedagogy, Modern Institute of Teacher Education, we would like to end with a quote by the great innovator of our century, the great Steve Jobs....“And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So, it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”