Majuli reminds me of the Assam [in northeast India] of my childhood—isolated and amiable. Few places in Assam possess such an allure of a not too distant past. Majuli [pronounced mah-joo-lee] could also be one of the last bastions at preserving tribal and indigenous Assamese traditions in its original form.
Surrounded by the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries, Majuli is the largest riverine island in the world. Life in Majuli appears idyllic but the hardships the inhabitants face due to the monsoon floods and silt deposits seem demanding.
Majuli is home to 22 satras [monasteries] while some others have moved off the island due to soil erosion. Satras started in Assam during the 15th-16th century and propagate a form of Vaishnavism [a set of traditions that adheres to the worship of god Vishnu] that emphasizes equality for all people instead of the Varna [caste] system that divides society into four hierarchical classes.
Pxley Extra: The following video is an excerpt of a gayan-bayan performance by the bhakats [monks] of a satra.
Acknowledgements: Video and photo for “Getting There” contributed by BJG. Photo for “Migratory Birds” contributed by BJB.