The distance from north-eastern states to Chandigarh runs into thousands of kilometres, but it does not deter a number of people from undertaking the long journey. Mostly, people from the north-east are students who come to the City Beautiful because of lack of education opportunities in their home state.
There are about 2,500 people from the north-east in the city, of which most of them are students. There are around 15 families residing in city. A few of them are employed as doctors at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) or are working in the hotel industry. Some work as teachers and others are employed with the top saloons in the city.
People from the north east, which comprise the states of Sikkim and Seven Sister States of India - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland, started coming to the city in late '80s to pursue higher studies.
Most of these states have their own associations in city like Manipur Students' Association, Nagaland People Union Chandigarh, Chandigarh Mizo Union, Zalengrong Students' Union and Kuki Students' Union. The associations were formed to preserve the tradition and culture of their respective states and they also hold regular functions of their states.
Last week, Chandigarh Mizo Union organised a weeklong football tournament at Panjab University in the memory of Mizo students VT Sanga and Apawtha, who died in separate road accidents in Chandigarh in February this year. The uniqueness of the tournament is that most of the participating teams comprised of north-east students and one team each of Ladakh, Tibet and Bhutan, as a symbol of companionship.
Vice-president of Nagaland People Union Chandigarh Thech Kithan came to Chandigarh in 1992 after her husband, who is a senior IAS officer in Haryana cadre, was transferred to city. She says, "Most of the north-east students come to metropolitan cities for higher studies. Since there is tough competition for admission in Delhi, they come to Chandigarh, which we feel is a safe place for the people of our region. I love the cosmopolitan culture of Chandigarh and the people are very friendly here."
Dr Zoramthara Zadeng, assistant professor, Advance Eye Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh, and president of Chandigarh Mizo Union, came in Chandigarh in 2004.
Zadeng says, "We feel safer in Chandigarh and have not faced any major problem as compared to other metropolitan cities of the country, where our people face discrimination."
David Lengen, president, Manipur Students Association Chandigarh, says, "We have people from all religion in our association and we hold regular meetings. Most students prefer to study in Chandigarh to pursue higher education as city colleges and Panjab University are not very expensive."
He adds, "Even our parents want us to study in Chandigarh as our people from the north-eastern states have never faced any problem here. The girls from north-east too feel secure in Chandigarh and we do not face discrimination. We love this city because of its amenities, which cannot be matched with any other city of the country."
The seven sister states are culturally rich and have a variety of folk dances, which highlight their belief in God, culture, seasons, weddings and other festivals. The folk dance reflects their lifestyle and their beliefs. Most of the folk dances in the north-east are related to harvesting of the crop. Some of the notable folk dances from the north-east are Naga Dance, Bihu Dance, Hajogiri, Nongkrem and the Cheraw folk dance.
People of north-east India are basically non-vegetarian. In most parts of this region, especially Nagaland, people eat every available animal and do not waste any part of it. Rice is the staple food and fish remains the favourite dish for majority of the local population of north-east. Tripura and Assam due to their proximity with Bengal show more love for fish than any other state. In Assam, people consume rice in various forms. Pitha, a rice-based sweet, is a popular dish of this region. Dishes prepared from ducks, bamboo shoots etc are very much popular the north-east.
Know people from the north-east
Most are students at Panjab University and its affiliated colleges
Staple food: Rice and fish
Popular dances: Naga Dance, Bihu Dance, Hajogiri, Nongkrem and Cheraw folk dance
Prominent north-east people in tricity
M Kithan, principal secretary, Sanik Board and Archives, Haryana
Rodney L Ralte, CEO, Chandigarh Housing Board, Chandigarh
Dr Zoramthara Zadeng, assistant professor, Advance Eye Centre, PGIMER
Dr Kim Vaiphei, professor, department of histopathology, PGIMER
Bora rice (sticky rice): 2 cups
Black sesame seeds: 1/2 cup
Jaggery: 1/2 cup
Soak rice overnight.
After straining water, cover with a cloth and leave it in the strainer for 2 hours or until dry.
Grind to coarse powder. Keep it covered
Lightly roast the sesame seeds, pound it slightly and keep aside.
Grate the jiggery and add sesame seeds to it. Mix well.
Heat tawa or girdle over medium flame. Spread a ladle of rice batter in the form of a pancake. Place some jaggery and sesame mix.
When the rice batter begins to firm, lift one of the edges and hand roll into a cylindrical shape.
Keep aside for a while on the side of griddle so that the pitha is crisp. The pitha should remain white and can be stored foe a week.