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The need for National Muga Day

By Correspondent
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NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Oct 28 � Jitul Saikia, a youth entrepreneur of Batomari village of Ghilamora under Dhakuwakhona subdivision of Lakhimpur district has been relentlessly working for the rearing of the exotic muga silk and the preservation of its culture and tradition associated with it for the last ten years.

An MSc in Life Sciences, Saikia quit his job as a college lecturer to fully devote his energy and resources to muga rearing and creating a mass participation on it for the economic and environmental development in that area where this silk worm is endemic in nature.

By forming an NGO, Wild Silk Society in 2005, Saikia and its fellow members have been observing the 19th of May as Muga Day since 2009 for preservation and promotion of this traditional silk production of Assam as well as for an environmental safeguard and preservation of the rich bio-diversity of an area of the State.

Muga silk and its rearing is one of the three important pillars of Assamese culture � the other being � the Assamese language and Bihu festival, and extinction of any one of them will mean the extinction of Assamese identity. According to Jitul Saikia, the economic aspect of muga rearing is very beneficial in which Rs 1.90 lakh could be earned from one hectare of land of host tree plantation called the �somani�. The yarn produced from one hectare of somani earns a market price of Rs 7 lakhs.

It also generates employment in which five hundred working days are created for one hectare of �somani� plantation.

The host tree plantations of muga also contribute immensely towards preservation of ecology and bio-diversity and protect the land from erosion by rivers. Keeping all these aspects of muga rearing and silk production in mind, the Wild Silk Society has been campaigning for the preservation of this age-old traditional practice and to produce it in a commercial way with scientific application and observing May 19 as the �National Muga Day� for the past five years.

Justifying the date for the �National Muga Day� on May 19, Jitul Saikia says that traditionally muga is reared thrice in a calendar year� Jeth (May-June), Aahar (June-July) and Bhado (August-September) for which the muga earns names like �Jethuwa�, �Aeherua� and �Bhadia�. The month of Jeth (May-June) is considered the best for rearing of muga silk as the weather becomes fresh with the pre-monsoon showers strengthening even the weaker muga worms. Similarly, this time of the year is ideal for the preservation of the breed of silk worms for the �Aeherua� and �Bhadia� variants of muga silk, Saikia says.

The National Muga Day observed by the Wild Silk Society in 2009 adopted a resolution asking the State Government to declare muga silk as national wealth and its host trees like Som as national plant.

It also asked the Assam Government to declare activities like brick industries, pesticides that affect the host trees of the muga silkworm as illegal. It also adopted a resolution to ask the State to plant Som trees on river banks, government grasslands and compounds of public institutions for the promotion of muga silk rearing.

The National Muga Day observed by the same NGO in 2012 was attended by Manimala Phookan Borthakur, Director, Sericulture, Govt of Assam, Dr Durga Prasad Khanikar, ex-HoD, Sericulture, AAU and scientists of the Central Silk Board, Dr Jewel Deka and Dr Amal Bhattacharya which took a resolution demanding the Assam Government to declare May 19 as National Muga Day.

The meeting also asked the State to declare the Sarikoria-Kodha-Champora riverine area as traditional muga sanctuary zone to protect ten thousand muga rearing families of that region and to ensure the cultural security of this tradition.

The Wild Silk Society also submitted a memorandum to the Direstor of Sericulture, Govt of Assam vide letter dated March 2, 2013 renewing the same demand of observing the National Muga Day and to implement the nine-point resolution adopted at their Muga Day meeting held in 2012.

Though the Union Agriculture Ministry honoured Jitul Saikia for his works and the State Government included him in the official delegation to Japan and China in 2013 for Silk study tours, nothing significant has been done by the Assam Government in observing the Muga Day as a national event.

At the time when tea is considered to be declared as the national drink, the demand for Muga Day is a timely one to address various aspects associated with its rearing and production.

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The need for National Muga Day

NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Oct 28 � Jitul Saikia, a youth entrepreneur of Batomari village of Ghilamora under Dhakuwakhona subdivision of Lakhimpur district has been relentlessly working for the rearing of the exotic muga silk and the preservation of its culture and tradition associated with it for the last ten years.

An MSc in Life Sciences, Saikia quit his job as a college lecturer to fully devote his energy and resources to muga rearing and creating a mass participation on it for the economic and environmental development in that area where this silk worm is endemic in nature.

By forming an NGO, Wild Silk Society in 2005, Saikia and its fellow members have been observing the 19th of May as Muga Day since 2009 for preservation and promotion of this traditional silk production of Assam as well as for an environmental safeguard and preservation of the rich bio-diversity of an area of the State.

Muga silk and its rearing is one of the three important pillars of Assamese culture � the other being � the Assamese language and Bihu festival, and extinction of any one of them will mean the extinction of Assamese identity. According to Jitul Saikia, the economic aspect of muga rearing is very beneficial in which Rs 1.90 lakh could be earned from one hectare of land of host tree plantation called the �somani�. The yarn produced from one hectare of somani earns a market price of Rs 7 lakhs.

It also generates employment in which five hundred working days are created for one hectare of �somani� plantation.

The host tree plantations of muga also contribute immensely towards preservation of ecology and bio-diversity and protect the land from erosion by rivers. Keeping all these aspects of muga rearing and silk production in mind, the Wild Silk Society has been campaigning for the preservation of this age-old traditional practice and to produce it in a commercial way with scientific application and observing May 19 as the �National Muga Day� for the past five years.

Justifying the date for the �National Muga Day� on May 19, Jitul Saikia says that traditionally muga is reared thrice in a calendar year� Jeth (May-June), Aahar (June-July) and Bhado (August-September) for which the muga earns names like �Jethuwa�, �Aeherua� and �Bhadia�. The month of Jeth (May-June) is considered the best for rearing of muga silk as the weather becomes fresh with the pre-monsoon showers strengthening even the weaker muga worms. Similarly, this time of the year is ideal for the preservation of the breed of silk worms for the �Aeherua� and �Bhadia� variants of muga silk, Saikia says.

The National Muga Day observed by the Wild Silk Society in 2009 adopted a resolution asking the State Government to declare muga silk as national wealth and its host trees like Som as national plant.

It also asked the Assam Government to declare activities like brick industries, pesticides that affect the host trees of the muga silkworm as illegal. It also adopted a resolution to ask the State to plant Som trees on river banks, government grasslands and compounds of public institutions for the promotion of muga silk rearing.

The National Muga Day observed by the same NGO in 2012 was attended by Manimala Phookan Borthakur, Director, Sericulture, Govt of Assam, Dr Durga Prasad Khanikar, ex-HoD, Sericulture, AAU and scientists of the Central Silk Board, Dr Jewel Deka and Dr Amal Bhattacharya which took a resolution demanding the Assam Government to declare May 19 as National Muga Day.

The meeting also asked the State to declare the Sarikoria-Kodha-Champora riverine area as traditional muga sanctuary zone to protect ten thousand muga rearing families of that region and to ensure the cultural security of this tradition.

The Wild Silk Society also submitted a memorandum to the Direstor of Sericulture, Govt of Assam vide letter dated March 2, 2013 renewing the same demand of observing the National Muga Day and to implement the nine-point resolution adopted at their Muga Day meeting held in 2012.

Though the Union Agriculture Ministry honoured Jitul Saikia for his works and the State Government included him in the official delegation to Japan and China in 2013 for Silk study tours, nothing significant has been done by the Assam Government in observing the Muga Day as a national event.

At the time when tea is considered to be declared as the national drink, the demand for Muga Day is a timely one to address various aspects associated with its rearing and production.