Majoli (Assamese: মাজুলি) is a fluvial island in the Brahmaputra river, in the Indian state of
Majuli is the largest riverine island in
the world and the largest freshwater island in South Asia.
Island in Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada is actually the
largest freshwater island in the world.
Majuli had a total
area of , but now having lost significantly to erosion it has an
area of only .
is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an
anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by
the Subansiri river in the north.
is about 200 kilometres east from the state's largest city —
Guwahati, and is
accessible by ferries from the town of Jorhat.
was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its
tributaries, mainly the Lohit.
Majoli is also the abode of the Assamese
Originally, the island was a narrow and long piece of land called
Majoli (land in the middle of two parallel rivers) that had
Brahmaputra flowing in the north and the Burhidihing flowing in the
south, till they met at Lakhu. Frequent earthquakes in the period
1661–1696 set the stage for a catastrophic flood in 1750 that
continued for 15 days, which is mentioned in historical texts and
reflected in folklore. As a result of this flood, the Brahmaputra
split into two anabranches—one flowing along the original channel
and the other flowing along the Burhidihing channel and the Majuli
island was formed. The Burhidihing's point of confluence moved
190 km east and the southern channel which was the Burhidihing
became the Burhi Xuti. The northern channel, which was previously
the Brahmaputra, became the Luit Xuti. In due course, the flow in
the Luit Xuti decreased, and it came to be known as the Kherkutia
Xuti; and the Burhi Xuti expanded via erosion to become the main
Brahmaputra river .
, the popular Hindu
god is supposed to have played here with his
friends. While this is speculative, the locals speak in the
Assamese language. However, what is certain is Majuli has been the
cultural capital of Assamese civilisation since the 16th century;
based on written records describing the visit of Sankardeva
— a 16th century social
reformer. Sankardeva, a pioneer of the medieval-age neo-vaishnavite
movement, preached a monotheist form of Hinduism
called as Vaishnavism
and established monasteries and
hermitages known as satras
The island soon became the leading centre of Vaishavinism with the
establishment of these satras. After the arrival of the British, the island was under the rule of the British till
independence in 1947.
The main industry is agriculture
being the chief crop. Majuli has a rich
and diverse agricultural tradition, with as many as a hundred
different varieties of rice
grown, all grown
or artificial fertilisers
. Among the fascinating arrays of rice
produced are the Komal Saul
unique type of rice that can be eaten just after immersing the
grains in warm water for fifteen minutes, and usually eaten as a
breakfast cereal; the bao dhan
, that grows under water,
and is harvested after ten months and the Bora saul
, a sticky brown rice used to make
the traditional cake known as pitha
and boat-making are other important economic activities.
Handloom is a major occupation among the distaff population of the
villages. Although largely a non-commercial occupation, it keeps
many of the inhabitants occupied. Weaving is exquisite and
intricate with the use of a variety of colours and textures of
especially 'muga' silk.
The dwellers of Majuli are mostly tribal folk. These tribal are the
mishing tribes from Arunachal Pradesh and who immigrated here centuries ago.
from them, the inhabitants are also from the Deori and Sonowal
Kacharis tribes. Languages spoken here are Assamese
Deori. The island has one
hundred and forty four
villages with a population of 150,000
and a density of 300 individuals per square km. The only mode of
association to the outside world is through a ferry service which
operates only twice a day. Despite inherent drawbacks faced,
modernism has touched this island, with the setting up of medical
centres and educational institutions. Housing too, has segued from
traditional bamboo and mud construction to ones made of
The heart of all villages is the Namghar
where villagers episodically gather to sing and pray. It is the
most important public place for the villagers. After the rituals
are complete, villagers decide here on issues concerning the
village such as auctioning of fishing rights, what to do with money
raised, and other topics of significance to the community as a
The inhabitants are expert navigators by boat; their expertise is
most visible during the monsoon season when they navigate the
turbulent waters of the Brahmaputra. Extremism is also a major
concern in the region. The insurgent group the ULFA
, has a wide network in the region and was
responsible for the execution of social worker Sanjoy Ghosh
who was trying to uplift the
people of the island.
Majuli has been the cultural capital and the cradle of Assamese
civilization for the past five hundred years. The satras set up
preserve antiques like weapons, utensils, jewellery and other items
of cultural significance. Pottery is made in Majuli from beaten
clay and burnt in driftwood fired kilns in the same mode carried
out by the peoples of the ancient Harrappan Civilisation
Sociologists have stressed on the preservation of these unique
peoples, whose culture and dance forms are untouched by modernism.
The handloom work of these tribes is also internationally
Virtually every single person on the island is involved in the
three-day long 'raas' festival, depicting the life of Krishna.
People from hundreds of kilometres away come to celebrate this
festival including a number of expatriate members of community. The
satras have also honed certain art and craft traditions, which can
now be found only here. In Natun Samuguri satra for example, one
can still find the craft of mask-making; and in the Kamalabari
satra the finest boats are made.
From one of the satras
The island has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite
culture, initiated around 15th
century by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva
and his disciple
Madhabdeva. Many Xatras
monasteries constructed by the saint still survive and represent
the colourful Assamese culture. The saint took refuge in Majuli and
spent a couple of months at Beloguri in West Majuli, which was a
place of grandeur for the historic and auspicious, 'Manikanchan
Sanjog' between Shankardeva and Madhavdeva, this was the first
in Majuli. After the "Manikanchan Sanjog", sixty
five satras were set up. However, today only twenty-two of the
original sixty-five still survive. Sixty-five out of the six
hundred and sixty-five original satras
in Assam were
situated in Majuli.
The main surviving Xatras (Satra)
- Dakhinpat Xatra : Founded by Banamalidev,
a supporter of Raasleela, which is now observed as one of the
National Festivals of Assam.
- Garamurh Xatra : This "Satra" was founded
by Lakshmikantadeva. During the end of autumn, the traditional the
Raasleela is enacted with pomp and celebrations. Ancient weapons
called "Bartop" or cannonss are preserved
- Auniati Xatra: Founded by Niranjan Pathakdeva, the satra is famous
for the "Paalnaam" and Apsara Dances and also its
extensive assortment of ancient Assamese artefacts, utensils,
jewellery and handicrafts. It also has a hundred and twenty
five disciples and over seven hundred thousand followers
- Kamalabari Xatra: The Kamalabari Satra,
founded by Bedulapadma Ata, is a centre of art, cultural,
literature and classical studies on the island. Its branch the
Uttar Kamalabari Satra has performed cultural programmes
of the Satria Art all around the country and abroad.
- Benegenaati Xatra: It is a reliquary of
antiques of cultural importance and an advance centre of performing
art. Muraridev, the grandson of Sankaradeva's stepmother was the
founder of the Satra. The royal raiment belongs to the Ahom king
Swargadeo Godadhar Singha, is made of gold. Also preserved is the
royal umbrella made in gold.
- Shamaguri Xatra: The satra is famous for
the masks making in India.
These satras are also the treasure house of "Bongeet" Matiakhara,
satriya dances (Jumora Dance, Chali Dance, Notua Dance, Nande
Vringee, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara Dance, Satria Krishna Dance and
Dasavater Dance), all promulgated by Srimanta Sankardeva
. It has also become
a center for shuddhi
in the Northeast of India, due to the
efforts of Pitambar Deva
, Majuli is a hotspot for flora and
fauna, harbouring many rare and endangered avifauna species
including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season. Among
the birds seen here are: the Greater
, Siberian Crane
and the Whistling Teal
. After dark wild
flocks to distant destinations. The island is almost pollution
free owing to the lack of polluting
industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.
The island is shrinking due to
The island is under threat due to the extensive soil erosion
on its banks. The reason for this
magnitude in erosion is the large embankments built in neighbouring
towns upriver to prevent erosion there during the monsoon
season when the river distends its banks.
The upshot is a backlash of the tempestuous Brahmaputra's fury on
the islet, eroding most of the area. According to reports, in 1853,
the total area of Majuli was 1,150 km² and about 33% of this
landmass has been eroded in the latter half of 20th century. Since
1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. Surveys show that in
15–20 years from now, Majuli would cease to exist.
To save the island, the Union Government of India has sanctioned Rs
(US $ 55 million) for the
protection of the isle. A petition has been sent to the UNESCO for the
declaration of Majuli to be a world natural heritage site and
furthermore make it a world cultural heritage site.
situated at a distance of 20 km from Jorhat.
can take the bus or a hired taxi to the Nimati Steamer Ghat from
where ferry services ply. The distance takes over three hours to
cover, with three bus rides and two ferry rides.
north-bank is the river Subansiri and on the South bank, the mighty
Brahmaputra has excided the island from the main land.
Lakhimpur town is to the North and Golaghat is to its southwest. The town of Sibsagar is on the southeast and Jorhat is to the
On the extreme east is Dibrugarh District
- The Vaishnava Satras founded by Sankardeva
- The colourful culture of the tribes
- Migratory birds
- The Ali-ai-ligang festival in Feb-March
- Pottery making
- Mask making
- Paal Namm festival in the end of winter
- The sunset in winter
- Exotic homespun masks crafts
- Sri Lohit High School
- [Majuli Auniati Hem Chandra High School]
- [Meragarh Narayandev Higher Secondary School by gauri sankar
- [C. S. Rawanapar Model H. S. School]
- [N. S. Greenwood English Medium High School]
- [Janata Girls' High School]
- Karatipar High School . easted 1940.
- rangachahi t n high school by dushmanta nath
Majuli is part of Lakhimpur