There was a time when villages had their importance for the town and city people only for the food they produced and served. The people of the village were looked down upon as illiterate and backward .The neo-city dweller young generation were even ashamed of admitting their immediate root to the village. It was only the literature that sang the glory of the rural life. A section of the city dwellers however fondly recollected their childhood memories of village life and did not miss the opportunity of travelling to the villages whenever an opportunity occurred. But things have undergone great changes in respect of the attitude of the city people towards the village life. Though many people are attracted towards the cities for livelihood and comfort the villages have started attracting people by their abundance of peace and simplicity. Hence, villages are entering the arena of attractive avenues of tourism.
The concept of tourism is getting wider and wider with its components put in specific frames such as –historical and pilgrimage tourism ,academic tourism, medical tourism ,yoga and spirituality tourism, eco-tourism, event and adventure tourism , ethno-tourism ,cultural tourism , tea tourism ,river tourism ,agricultural tourism and village tourism to name a few. With the rapid developments in space science another feather namely “Space Tourism” is going to be added to the crest of tourism. Many of these avenues were not considered as the components of tourism till a few years back. It is evident that the tourism sector can not remain untouched by the rapid global changes in different spheres. For sustainability every new field of tourism is expected to be evenly poised between economic prospects and recreational values as well as other resources the visitors want to explore. Peace and Village tourism is one of the promising avenues.
The relevance of peace and village tourism lies in bridging the gap between the cities, growing towns and villages. Gandhiji found the spirit of India in the villages. Almost all the city dwellers had their roots in villages while some of them are still attached to it. The modern men, especially the city dwellers are under constant pressure of keeping pace with the hectic routine life. The hectic schedule of day to day city life hardly allows them to opt for any natural abstractions other than artificial recreations. Over and above the city children hardly get any opportunity to live their childhood. Living a robotic life they can hardly see how their food is grown .Though influx of some cultures and practices earlier alien to the village folk have paused a little threat to the sanctity of rural life there is still a lot for the city dwellers to explore in the villages.
The components of peace and village tourism may be classified under various heads such as ethnicity, agriculture, art, literature and language, craft, weaving, traditional games and sports, traditions, food habits, rites and rituals, beliefs and agricultural as well as non-agricultural scenic beauty etc. Visitors can enjoy the delights of village life at the following levels:
Things to do:- Riding on buffalo, traveling on bullock cart, catching fish with hand and net, angling; swimming in ponds, rivulets and streams ;sowing seed, reaping corn, climbing trees, taking part in community festivals and feast, taking part in traditional games and sports, taking part in craft, spinning and weaving work as well as using dheki and ural by women.
The landscape –Community irrigation system, clear night sky, various fruits and local flowers in bloom, silvery coriander fields, golden mustard fields, golden paddy fields, the rosy hue of the setting sun on the paddy fields, various agricultural activities and religious institutions etc.
The pleasant Sounds- Chirping of birds and insects, playing of flutes by cowboys, singing by reapers, lowing of cattle and bleating of goats, pounding of dheki and ural, children making noise while at play, the movement of shuttle in the hands of the weaver, listening folk tales from the village grandmas and grandpas; folk, marriage and religious songs; chanting of mantras etc.
The Smell of countryside’s- Smell of ripe paddy, mustard, coriander, various local flowers, creepers and herbs, ripe jackfruit, ripe pineapple, ripe berries and other local fruits.
The ungarnished flavours:-Jackfruits, berries, plums, tasting traditional food items sitting by hearth or in the field with people at work, traditional rice beer in tribal villages.
Feel :- Fresh air.
Understanding:- Simplicity, shyness, helpful nature and cordiality of the village folk ,co-operation and sense of sharing among the village folk, traditional beliefs, ,traditional healthcare systems, difficulties of the rural folk, settlement of disputes through mutual understanding, social taboos, oral history of the community, myths, the language they use with variations in accent in comparison to other places ,unique ways of life , rites, practices , traditions, skills, dynamics of community administration etc.
The ethnic and tribal societies of Assam are enriched with uniqueness in all spheres .The rural folk must have access to the basic amenities but at the same time it needs to be protected from the undesired invasion of so called modernity which has nothing to do with the upliftment of the rural folk .The essence of rural life must be honoured.
Every commodity meant for sale must have some utility for the buyers or something unique about it in respect of quality or matter to convince the buyers for purchase. In order to present village tourism as a tourism commodity in the perspective of Assam it has to be organized and developed with a commercial approach. Any village without basic amenities and without professional attitude of at least a few people can not become an asset of tourism. Hence some NGOs, Self Help Groups or Community Based Organizations must come forward with an objective of creating necessary infrastructure and preparing the communities for the same. They need to arrange home stay with basic facilities and also give publicity of the village tourism highlighting the special features as well as appropriate seasons for visiting the villages. Some of the tourism components may have to be reorganized with due respect to their original form. The level of community’s belongingness to the venture will determine the success of peace and village tourism. Diverse agricultural activities characterized by topographical variations, ethnic diversities with their own and sometimes unique cultural, ritualistic, literary, linguistic and traditional identities bear an ample opportunity of peace and village tourism in Assam.