By Samir Shukla
Life and Culture in Northeast India
Authors: Dipti Bhalla Verma and Shiv Kunal Verma
(Abbeville Press - Hardcover 260 pages)
India's northeast region comprises of the famous “seven sisters" states - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya. The authors also include the state of Sikkim in the book Life and Culture in Northeast India, giving historical information about each state along with the region's myriad religions, tribal, and geographical significance.
The region is a small sliver of land, compared to the otherwise vastness of India, and is snuggled between the Himalayas, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
This oversized book is filled with informative passages on the region's cultures, along with more than 300 photographs and several detailed maps. The colorful images give a sense of place and bio-diversity of this intriguing area.
The northeastern region is a small percentage of India's land mass, about eight percent, but there are nearly 140 indigenous tribes living in the area. Each has its own culture that's intertwined with the rest of the region. Multiple native religions as well as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam are practiced here.
It is also one of wettest areas of India, mostly hilly, from the mighty snow-capped Himalayas to tropical rain forests cradled within its boundaries. The region has also faced isolation as Bangladesh nearly cuts it off from the rest of India with only a thin land area, known as the “chicken's neck," physically connecting the region to rest of India.
Rice farms, national parks and the famous tea plantations of Assam are just some of the aspects this region, which are also marred by internal and international border conflicts.
Authors and filmmakers Dipti Bhalla Verma and Shiv Kunal Verma unfold an introduction to this part of India for the rest of the world. Many Indians are also unaware of the diverse denizens of the region as it is not part of the more famous and touristy areas of India.
This book is a wonderful addition to home libraries and those interested in further exploring India and peoples of the world in general.