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situated on the banks of Brahmaputra River in Uzan Bazar. The Kendra is a spiritually ori- ented service organization working through- out the country since 1972. According to Meera Kulkarni, a senior organizer, they run a chain of 22 Vivekananda Kendra schools in Assam and 139 branches of a project called Anandalaya, which provides non-formal education and hostel facilities to children of tea garden workers. They also operate exten- sive medical and rural development projects. These efforts are managed by 32 full-time workers in Assam with the help of hun- dreds of volunteers in 39 centers. Religious education and yoga are a part of many of the programs. The m was set up in 1993 to nurture the


Northeast’s indigenous cultures through scholarly seminars, research, documentation and publications. According to Pranav Jyoti Brahmachari, they host frequent intellectual and cultural programs, as well as maintain a library and research center. They sponsor researchers to live among the various tribal communities to record their life and culture, with a focus on understanding the aspects of belief and culture the tribes share with each other and the rest of India.


Conclusion for Part One


At the first sight, Guwahati appears to be like any other Indian cosmopolitan city, with large and glamorous showrooms, malls and luxury hotels lining highly commercialized roads in the posh areas around the city’s cen- ter. However, within a few days of our mov- ing in and around this ancient city we expe- rienced its many unique treasures. + ô ^ 3 and oldest is the mighty Brahmaputra River,


Education Across Assam


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“Son of Brahma,” a rare male name for an In- dian river. Then there is the world-famous Ma Kamakhya Temple, which we felt truly blessed to visit. We traveled hundreds of ki- lometers to Barduwa to visit the birthplace of Srimanta Shankardeva. Our guide took us to interior tribal areas where we encoun- tered the traditions of the Bodo, Ahom, Karbi and other tribes, and observed the manifold activities of Ekal Vidyalaya, RSS, VHP and other Hindu organizations. Our fascinating spiritual exploration of the


lives and traditions of Assamese Hindus will continue next issue as we shift to Dibrugarh, center of the tea country. We visit with the tea workers, whose forefathers were brought here by the British in the 19th century. We take a ferry boat across the Brahmaputra to the world’s largest river island, Majuli, seat of Neo-Vaishnavism and the religion known as Ekasarna Dharma propagated by Srimant Shankardeva through his Vaishnava satras.


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In Majuli we met the world-famous mask- makers and the Mising tribals. After travel- ing to the ancient Siva temple at Sivasagar and the famous Tilinga Mandir, or Bell Tem- ple, in Tinsukia, we spend our last day among the large Nepalese Gorkha community here. * U


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32 hinduism today april/may/june, 2017


rajiv malik


all photos: thomas l kelly


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