Visiting Dwijing Festival in Bodoland, Assam? This travel guide is all you need!
An annual extravaganza of various cultural and regional activities with a keen focus on promoting tourism in Bodoland… that’s what Dwijing festival is, in nutshell. It’s a great place for those who want an introduction to Bodoland but don’t know where to start.
Think of the Hornbill festival in Nagaland, that’s what Dwijing is for Bodoland, in Assam.
I happened to attend it as a part of the Bodoland Ambassadors trip where I, along with 8 other bloggers from across India were invited. Attending Dwijing festival and spending the night of 31st December on site was on agenda.
Note: If you’re a travel influencer and want to be a part of it and explore a bit of Bodoland, apply for Bodoland Ambassador Season 3. Here’s the website.
Though Dwijing festival was a 12-day festival with different performances lined up every night, we attended it for just three days.
To be honest, if I was travelling on my own, I would have attended Dwijing for all the 12 days. Just go to the festival premise every evening, hang around, eat, drink some Druk Beer or rice wine and enjoy the vibe. But before we get into discussing my experience of Dwijing and why I loved it, let’s get some background information about it and find out what to see and do there.
Also, Other than the festival, we also explored other tourist highlights in Bodoland. Read this article for more information: What To See and Do In Bodoland. Now, let’s continue with this article…
What is Dwijing Festival?
Dwijing Festival is a river festival celebrated for 12 days every year (from 27 December to 7 January) on the banks of the Aie River near the Hagrama Bridge in Bongaigaon.
Take the word ‘near’ quite literally though, because Aie River changes course every year and with that, the venue for Dwijing changes too (kind of how it goes with Kumbh Mela) though it will still be somewhere near Hangrama Bridge.
For those who don’t know, Aie River has its own significance for the locals Bodos. The word Aie (in Bodo) literally translates to mother, and the river is considered the ‘Mother Goddess’.
Originating from the Himalayas from Bhutan, the river is a major source of the economy as well as beauty in the region. Having said that, celebrating Dwijing festival on the banks of the Aie (as a gateway to bring tourism opportunities for local communities) makes perfect sense.
DWI stands for ‘river’ and JING stands for ‘bank’.
At the festival, expect cultural dance/music performances, local games, art exhibitions, and a lot of food. To make it even more interesting, some big-time talent and celebrities like Mika Singh and Vishal Shekhar are also invited every year.
Is Dwijing Festival Worth Visiting?
Honestly speaking, once you will be at Dwijing festival ground, you won’t be questioning so. No matter what’s your taste, you will find something to venture into – whether it is drooling on food, dancing with buddies over live performances, trying adventure activities, or just standing in a corner and enjoying a festive vibe.
And then again, it serves as a good introduction to Bodoland and the communities living around the area.
If you have ever visited, or have heard of, Hornbill and Ziro festival, consider Dwijing something similar, with a different feel, focusing on a different part of Northeast India.
And if you’re still unsure and want more details about what to see and do there, here let’s talk about them.
What To See And Do At Dwijing Festival
To create a buzz, every year, some big-time talent and celebrities are also invited to Dwijing.
In the 2019-20 Dwijing festival, for example, artists like Vishal Shekhar, Mika, Neeti Mohan, and others were invited to performances – the only part of the festival that didn’t make any sense to me. But the fact that celebrity presence does play a significant role in promoting an event and getting more footfall, justifies the reason WHY! To balance the equation, some budding native bands, singer-songwriters, and performers from Assam also perform at the event.
Other than live performances you can also find some adventure activities. The 2019-20 Dwijing festival, for example, had activities like paragliding, helicopter ride, river rafting, and a hot-air balloon.
A riverside campsite was also established for those who wanted to stay near the festival grounds while keeping the entire experience raw and adventurous.
Since a festival can never be complete without traditional food, at Dwijing Festival, you can find traditional Bodo, Santali and Bhutani food, among other options.
From meat eaters to vegans, the nearly 100 stalls offer all food options. Rice cake, silkworm, bamboo roasted Pork and gravies made out of dried jute leaves, and other things with the most peculiar taste ever. Dwijing festival is indeed heaven for foodies who love experimenting.
Ethnic Market And Art Exhibitions At Dwijing Festival
There is also an exhibit of a Bodo village where one can find traditional Bodo huts, worship places, barns, and other structures.
An interesting fact I figured visiting the Bodo Village exhibition was that in the Bodo community, the elder people of the house live on the northern side (with most natural light coming in that part of the house). All the valuables are kept in that part of the house.
A section of the Dwijing festival is also dedicated to artworks by local and indigenous artists and local games like wrestling.
Where To Stay At Dwijing Festival
As mentioned above, one can stay at the temporary campsite at the festival ground or choose to stay at one of the hotels in Bongaigaon. Bongaigaon is the center of all activity in Bodoland. Having said that, there are a few places to choose from.
We, however, stayed at Cygnett Park Meghana in Bongaigaon (possibly the best place in the region). Regular public and private transport are available from Bongaigaon to the festival venue.
Note: If you are flying in and out of Guwahati and are looking for a place to stay, I can suggest Gibbon Backpackers Hostel located about 45 min drive away from the airport.
Program Schedule, Ticket Price of Dwijing Festival
Speaking of Dwijing Festival 2020, the popular programs were Helicopter rides, boat riding, elephant rides, horse riding, bamboo bride walks, paragliding, and hot air balloon riding. Other than this, there was the national and international expo.
The opening ceremony was conducted by Vishal and Shekhar, Jonita Gandhi, Sugandha Mishra and DJ Liz. The closing ceremony was conducted by Papon, Mika Singh and Neeti Mohan.
Since my trip was sponsored, the entry was free, but rest assured it is not much and hardly covers the cost of what is spent on organising Dwijing in the first place.
You can read more about this year (also keep yourself updated about the 2020-21 Dwijing festival) on the official website.
My Experience At Dwijing Festival, Bodoland, Assam
Before I talk about my experience, let me confess that I am not a big fan of promotional events. I find them too staged to be able to see the real picture of a place. But some festivals are an exception, and Dwijing festival was certainly one of them.
By definition, I won’t call it the grandest or fanciest cultural festival taking place in Northeast India, but set in Bodoland on the banks of a serene river with views of mustard fields all around, it is one of its kind.
More than anything, I loved the entire vibe of the place, that felt too comfortable and relaxing to be true. In the day time, I would enjoy exploring the fair-grounds, the exhibitions and sampling local food. The evenings were reserved for enjoying the song and dance performances at the stage.
To be honest, evenings were when the energy and vibrancy of Dwijing be best harnessed, as local colourful people come together to dance, laugh and celebrate life with outsiders.
The festival unveils another gem of Northeast India, i.e the territorial area of Bodoland. It acts as a stage to introduce Bodoland and mark its presence – with its distinctive and diverse culture – on the map. The vibes of the festival are alluring. It is by visiting Dwijing that you will have an introduction to Bodoland and where to head next to find some unexplored regions of Bodoland. And if nothing else, it serves as a venue to bring local Bodos to embrace time and sunsets with their families together.
Have you attended Dwijing Festival? How did you like it? Spill your views in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some of the pictures used in the article belong to Jimmy Kamballur, who was the official photographer of Bodoland Ambassadors Season 2. You can get in touch with him on Instagram.