A fest to celebrate a local rice wine

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Newly introduced GI beacon and Vista dome in Haflong promise more than the usual crowd for Judima festival in Assam

With Judima, a traditional rice wine from the Dima Hasao district of Assam, which got the geo tag earlier this year, heading to a festival that celebrates this unique drink from the Dima community seems like a good decision. . Going to Halong in Dima Hasao will not only give you the opportunity to try a lot of Judima with ethnic dishes, but also to get an insight into the art, crafts and culture of the Dima Hasao people.

The three-day festival from December 17 to 19 is one of the newer festivals in the region. “The Judama festival was first held in Dibarai village six years ago. This year, it will be held in Gunjung, a town 29 kilometers from the city of Haflong, ”said Naushaad Husain of Adventura, who specializes in ecotourism in the Northeast region.

Like every year, the organizers expect good attendance from all the northeastern states. Uttam Baithari, one of the initiators of Judima’s GI tag, says, “We are generally getting good footfall, but we expect it to increase this time around for a number of reasons including the GI tag and the new path. Vista Dome Railway. The theme of the events of this edition is agriculture. We are working on setting up district agricultural products, a live demonstration on how to make organic pesticides and manure, and a workshop on seed saving. There will also be other regular events such as traditional storytelling, ballad, dance and sports shows as well as adventure activities such as hiking, biking, ziplining and paragliding. Some fusion groups featuring local musicians will also perform.

Read more | Judima gets a GI tag

Locals began to prepare and store Judima in several hundred bottles before the festival. The Judima will be both old and young. The young Judima, which will be undergoing fermentation, is ideal for instant consumption. The elderly Judima whose fermentation is complete, are those who can endure any kind of travel, including by air.

Gopinath Haflongbar, a local resident of Gunjun, said, “Young Judima, when bottled, cannot be sealed because the drink continues to ferment for up to six months. When the young Judima is put under pressure, the gases will explode the bottle. Therefore, we advise elderly Judima to travel.

To better understand the two types of Judima, Haflongbar and his wife offer me cups of drink instead of morning tea at their home in Gunjung. Young Judima looked like cold pressed pineapple juice and tasted sweet. Beginners can easily mistake it for fruit juice, with a slight alcohol aftertaste. This was followed by a six month old Judima who was gentler. Finally, I tasted the eight month old Judima, which was like drinking honey without her dense body.

Thembra and the leaven, used to make Judima | Photo credit: Prabalika M Borah

Mooring rice used to make Judima

To prepare Judima, the Dimasa use Thembra, a herb and Bairing rice. Judima, unlike other wines, does not need any accompaniment. It is like drinking sweet nectar which gradually shows its effect. Haflongbar adds, “It makes you slow but strong, so whenever we want to relax, we sip Judima.”

Although the festival is all about Judima, there will also be a certain amount of tribal food.

Seeing the label of an imported wine on a bottle of Judima that was offered to me, I asked Haflongar if she preferred wines to their local drink and the sixty-something replied quickly: “Not just me, a majority of Dima. prefer Judima to any other alcohol. . “

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