Mājuli or Majuli Island is a river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam and in 2016, it became the first island to be made a district in India.
Majuli means ‘the land between two parallel rivers’. Majuli is the world’s largest river island according to Guinness World Record & situated on the Brahmaputra River in Assam. It sprawls over an extensive area of 352 sq km.
In the 1790s, the island covered an area of 1,300 km2 (500 sq mi). It had an area of 1,255 square kilometres (485 sq mi) at the beginning of the 20th century, but having lost significantly to erosion it covers 352 square kilometres (136 sq mi) as at 2014. Majuli has shrunk as the river surrounding it has grown.
The island 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.
Mājuli island is accessible by ferries from the city of Jorhat. The island is about 300–400 kilometres (186–249 mi) east from the state’s largest city Guwahati. It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit. Mājuli is the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture.
As mentioned in historical texts and folklore, the island was formed after frequent earthquakes between 1661–1696 that set the stage for a catastrophic flood in 1750.
Mixed tribal ethnicity:
People from different tribal groups like Mising, Deoris, Ahoms and Sonowal Kacharis reside on the island.
Majuli Island is the most ancient site of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite monastery or first Satra. Its roots can be traced back to the 15th century and, in fact, there are around 22 Satras on this river island.
Many travelers visit these Satras each year and they are also the most famous tourist spots of the region. Some of the important Satras here are Dakhinpat Satra, Kamalabari Satra, and Garamurh Satra.
It has been known as the cultural capital of Assam ever since the 16th century. The main village of the Majuli Isand is Naghmar where many events and festivals are being held even today.
The festivals celebrated here are very colorful and vibrant which is the prime cause for which tourists from different parts of the country travel to this location.
Raas Purnima is one such important event which people celebrate here in a grand manner. It is lovely to see the dance performance which is being organized on this day based on the life of Lord Krishna.
The Paal Naam and Bathow Puja are the other notable festivals of Majuli.
Ali Aye Ligang festival: This spring festival is celebrated by the Mishing tribe during mid-February. The festival marks onset of sowing seeds.
Ecology of Majuli Island
Mājuli is a hotspot for flora and fauna, harbouring many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season.
The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.
Threats to Majuli Island
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 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 Mājuli was 1,150 km2 and about 33% of this landmass has been eroded in the latter half of the 20th century. Since 1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. Surveys show that in 15–20 years from now, Mājuli would cease to exist.
Majuli Island is affected by soil erosion, coupled with changing climatic conditions and thereby affecting the agriculture and livelihood of the inhabitants.
The Brahmaputra has devoured half of the island over the last six decades.