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Fashion fest in Northeast, Bhutan style

New Delhi, Jan. 11: The home ministry appears to have taken a page out of Bhutan’s book of governance as it sponsors a North East Fashion Fest in Guwahati next month with actor Soha Ali Khan as brand ambassador.

Efforts are being made to persuade Shah Rukh Khan to also be a brand ambassador, sources said.

The fest on February 20-23 in Guwahati will showcase Assam’s silk weaves and the creations of the region’s fashion designers.

“Hi guys, I am excited about it…women in Northeast are fashion conscious like me!” Soha said yesterday.

The department of state tourism, Bodoland Territorial Council and the department of handloom and textiles of the Assam government will be associates in the venture.

In neighbouring Bhutan, the government has married security and culture and created a “ministry of home and cultural affairs”. Bhutan aims to integrate its culture into the country’s development policies, plan and programmes through the ministry.

New Delhi has taken a leaf out of Thimphu’s book, an official conceded, although North Block is not comfortable with too much attention on its involvement. The home ministry is hoping to bring the Northeast’s culture to the rest of India and “mainstream” the region, officials said.

“We are just nurturing the show out of love and affection for the people of the region,” said Ajay Kanoujia, deputy secretary in the ministry, at the curtain raiser for the three-day festival.

The show follows an initiative by the ministry before the Olympics to highlight sports stars from the Northeast.

As the Games began last year, huge hoardings were put up picturing Mary Kom, Chekrovolu Swuro, Shiva Thapa and other medal prospects from the region. Mary Kom, of course, fought her way to become a national icon.

The show in Guwahati will be followed by similar events not only in Arunachal Pradesh and Delhi but also in Bangkok and locations across Europe.

A programme, Maa Tujhe Salaam, that featured music directors Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, had last September saluted the spirit of Assam. That was meant to heal the wounds of the riots in the Bodoland Territorial Council areas.

Another show, to be held on February 16, will feature singers KK, Joi Barua and Janki Parekh. Barua and Parekh had sung alongside Lucky Ali at a show titled Sadbhavana in cities like Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.

“The next six months will be an integration drive to focus on heroes from the Northeast in the fields of culture, music, science and technology,” said Anand Kumar, director of Basics Concepts and Marketing Ltd, a company empanelled with the ministry that is organising the events.

Among the participants at the fashion fest will be young designers Annu and Amrit from Assam and jewellery designer Yana Ngoba from Arunachal Pradesh.

Ngoba, herself a Nyishi tribal, said she is experimenting with the diversity of the 400-odd communities and their unique traditional motifs and jewellery. She has chosen the motifs of the Nyishi, Apatani, Minyong tribes of Arunachal along with Angami, Lotha, Ao and Sema tribes of Nagaland besides other tribal jewellery from across the region.