According to United Nations' website, “There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 percent of the world's population, but account for 15 percent of the poorest.”
These indigenous communities, even by holding a tiny portion of the global population and their economic condition, provides a significant contribution in terms of culture, language, history, fashion, gastronomy, etc.
The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on August 9, therefore, is of paramount importance.
Our country is a land of many indigenous communities. With their distinct lifestyle, they have enormously enriched our culture across a wide array of fields, from arts to fashion and festivals to food.
There are many programmes being organised in the country to promote the various cultures and crafts of such communities to mark the day.
Ethnic fashion can provide anyone with an edge. The homespun coarse cotton saris in brilliant colours of the Santals and the awe-inspiring jewellery made of tainted glass, beads etc of the Garo women are just two such illustrations.
The ethnic groups also have unique culinary heritage, which brings diversity to the table. The result comprises the interesting recipes and mouth-watering dishes. From shrimp paste to bamboo shoots, we have much to try out.
Of course, the commemoration is just for a day. But the spirit ought to be captured in our hearts and minds and practised for the rest of the year. Flaunt ethnic wear with pride. Find out recipes and be an experimental cook in your kitchen. Read about their history, traditions, and values.
Perhaps most importantly, clear your mind of stereotypes. Avoid discrimination in the workplace, stand up for their rights, delight yourself in their festivals, make some friends, and may be even learn a few words from their languages.
It is obviously not about the differences which set us apart, but the diversity which enriches our society. In diversity we believe!
Photo: Darshan Chakma
Wardrobe: Sozpodor by Tenzing Chakma