The annual folkTea event has come to a spectacular end giving both the ailing tea industry and struggling folk artists of Assam a new narrative to move on.
Held at Hatipoti small tea Garden near Biswanath Charaiali, the two-day event (Nov 25 to Nov 26) drew people from Delhi to Lakhimpur as families, bikers, adventure lovers descended in the tiny village to be with the nature, and philosophy of life while understanding tea.
"This is an unique event and I attended it despite being that day was my wedding anniversary. I am mesmerized by the sheer rawness of the whole effort and its beauty. It was simply unthinkable to sit under a moon lit sky inside a tea garden, surrounded by earthy lamps and watch folk artists performing. This is the best way to showcase the folk cultures' said renown filmmaker Reema Borah.
Echoing same sentiment, nationally acclaimed entrepreneur Manoj Basumatary volunteered to be part of the next year effort. "This has to be sustained and it is great for the tea industry and folk artists. The event will bring in interest of the new generation to both and I see great future."
Bhaskar Hazarika of Hookhmal tea is even more optimistic. He is clear in his head. "The tea needs a new story and a new narrtive to go beyond the conventional. The 'folkTea' is one such story and I am determined to be back here again."
That is the ethos of 'folkTea' a unique concept of blending tea, spirituality, folk culture and adventure into one package, giving something to everyone. Call it an adventure camp, cultural jamboree or selling a new tea story, folkTea is a fresh breadth of air.
"I came here to show my children what is tea, how it grows how it is plucked and how it is made as we know nothing of tea despite it being here for 200 years. Also folkTea gives me the entire package of rich folk cultures of Assam,” said Jyotirmoy Kalita.
"The whole concept of the folkTea originated organically during the Covid when everyone was stuck at home. It developed organically. The first year focus was primarily on the Bauls who came from Shantiniketan but then it grew and covered other tribal groups of Assam. Our idea is to take out the narrative of the tea from the economics to the people using the route of folk culture, spirituality and nature" said founder of folkTea Mrinal Talukdar.
The two-day event is held every year on the last weekend of November, just before the annual pruning begins in the gardens. It is organized inside a small tea garden called Hatipoti, near Mijicajan of Biswanath Chariali.
"Everything is earthy. we do not event use artificial lights. We have camps and the whole event place is illuminated by Hurricane Lamps and camp fires and folk artists perform there in open sky. We had this time Bhaona, Bodo, Mishing, Tea Tribes, Garo and Flute ensembles" said Debabrata Medhi, one of the organizer.
Although it is organized under the aegis of Nanda Talukdar Foundation, but it more of a community project where helps and contribution pour in from friends and well wishers in all shape and kinds to make the event a signature event every year.