"Born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam, I never realized the beauty of the place till I left it in 2009 for higher studies. Since then my visits to my hometown have reduced to couple of weeks to a few months. As the saying goes ‘distance makes a heart grow fonder’, it is true in my case. I miss my home, the mountains and rivers, the food and the lush blanket of greenery that surrounds whole of North East.
Hailing from Assam, naturally means being the owner of a lot of handcrafted local products, ranging from lifestyle products to traditional mekhelas and jewelleries. Out of all the stuff that I own, I have two priced possessions. First is my MUGA MEKHELA. Mom bought it from a local handloom fair way back in 2010/11, when Muga silk was still affordable. Like all mothers, her intention was to keep it safe till my wedding day, but I was too eager to wear it and managed to convince her to give it to me on my graduation day in 2013. The silk has a natural yellowish-golden tint, which is subtle yet shimmery, and the traditional motifs that adorns the fabric are made out of threads that’s been naturally dyed as well. Owning and wearing a muga mekhela is an experience in itself. There is a sense of royalty to wear a fabric that is so durable and valuable, a sense of nostalgia as it reminds me of home and a sense of pride because it it from a region that is so beautiful and different from mainstream India.
The other priced possession is my traditional ‘LOKAPARO’ jewellery set. Assamese jewelleries are inspired from its surroundings and Lokaparo is one of the quintessential sets. It consists of a pendant, finger ring and a pair of earrings embellished with identical pigeons (‘paro’ means pigeon). Set in gold, the pigeons are green in color and surrounded by red, blue and green gemstones. My mom knew my love for this particularly set, so she didn’t bother to consult me when she got this set made from Barpeta, one of the places in Assam where this art of making jewelry is prevalent. I have worn this set in multiple occasions, including my own wedding. It is such a versatile and exquisite piece and whenever I am in doubt, Lokaparo comes to the rescue.
Hopefully someday I would hand it down to someone who will safeguard it the same way I am doing and feel the same sense of belonging when they wear them."
Thank you Raeesha for this amazingly heart warming story. Hope this Mekhla and Lokaparo finds it true heirloom.
Raeesha Tanvir Altaf is a UX Designer based out of Philadelphia, USA