London Museum Showcases The Endangered Hargila And Assam's Mekhala Sador

The exhibit was created by Dr. Purnima Devi Barman and her team, showcasing the intersection of Assamese textile art and wildlife, as well as conservation efforts
Natural History Museum in London
The display at the museum@justguwahatithings/Instagram

India has a rich diversity of everything, from landscapes to wildlife and even textiles. In a museum in London, two of these are finding a platform in a unique exhibit celebrating Assam's heritage. The state's textiles and wildlife are being featured in a special exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. This exhibit showcases an exquisite Mekhela Sador adorned with motifs of the Hargila, or Greater Adjutant Stork. The exhibit was created by Dr. Purnima Devi Barman and her team, showcasing the intersection of Assamese textile art and wildlife conservation, as well as Dr. Barman's conservation efforts as a biologist and UNEP Champion of the Earth.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to the micro-blogging platform X, to laud the exhibit, saying, “This beautiful Mekhela Sador, woven with imprints of the Greater Adjutant Stork (Hargila), is designed by the team of Dr @StorkSister and displayed at the Natural History Museum of London. Appreciate her unique efforts in taking forward the message of Hargila conservation!”

The Hargila Army

In the heart of Assam, Purnima Devi Barman has dedicated herself to the crucial task of safeguarding the endangered greater adjutant stork. Through her tireless grassroots efforts, safe nesting habitats have been established and local communities have become more aware of the urgent need for conservation. The greater adjutant stork is currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN, facing a rapidly declining population. Since the bird’s nesting colonies are located outside of state-protected areas in Assam, community conservation initiatives are vital for its survival.

greater adjutant stork i
The greater adjutant stork is an endangered speciesRupankar Bhattacharjee/Shutterstock

Thanks to Dr. Barman’s unwavering dedication and the movement she has inspired, these magnificent birds are not only protected, but also celebrated, and are showing signs of a population resurgence. The conservation movement has gained significant momentum, giving rise to the Hargila Army. Today, the greater adjutant stork has become a cultural icon, gracing everything from towels to road-safety campaigns. Additionally, the conservation efforts have brought about transformative changes in the lives of women, empowering them to spread awareness about the birds in other villages.

Dr. Barman and the extraordinary women of the Hargila Army have skillfully woven the mesmerising teal-colored Mekhela Sador for the museum, seamlessly blending traditional Assamese weaving techniques with the noble cause of wildlife conservation. Their exhibition at the Natural History Museum not only showcases the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of Assam but also serves as a powerful catalyst, inspiring global onlookers to embrace sustainability and take active responsibility for the environment.

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