Guwahati, April 07 (IANS): The two-day Assam Spring Festival began at the Manas National Park on Saturday where visitors will get to experience the state's local food, music, handloom and handicrafts.
"The aim of the event is to promote the local food and culture of the fringe villagers. It is an attempt to create a model of alternative livelihood through food, handloom and culture," Mitali from Food Sutra, one of the organisers, said.
"We are expecting participation of over 300 domestic and foreign tourists in the two-day festival."
The festival has been organised, among others, by Indian Weavers' Association and the Swankar Mithinga Onsai Afat, an association of reformed poachers in Manas who are now engaged in wildlife conservation and preservation.
The National park which is also a tiger and rhino reserve covers five districts of Assam -- Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang, Udalguri and Barpeta.
Residents of fringe villages that dot the National Park are all set to give the tourists an experience of a lifetime by offering them a peek into their rural lives.
Saumar.J. Sharma of the Indian Weavers' Association said: "We have trained about 32 households about maintenance of hygiene and the basics of the service industry. We trained them on managing home stays and serving the guests home made food.
"When the locals start keeping guests in their home stays, it will not only provide then with an alternative livelihood but also direct market linkages to showcase and sell their products.
"Normally in Assam, the tourist season is for six months (April to November). However, with these initiatives, the locals can host interested travellers during the off season or all through the year."
On Saturday, there will be a session of celebrity cooking with renowned chef Gautam Mehrishi and food blogger Kalyan Karmakar.
Musician Joi Baruah is slated to perform on Saturday night.
The itinerary of the festival include village tours, exposition of local handicraft and handloom, cultural showa, local folk music and tasting of local cuisines and delicacies.