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A creative posted by graphics designer Kasturi Mahanta on her Instagram page
A creative posted by graphics designer Kasturi Mahanta on her Instagram page|Kasturi Mahanta
NEWS

How this NE woman is breaking stereotypes, one letter at a time

A for Amroli Tup, B for Bhut Jolokia... Assam native Kasturi Mahanta is redefining the English alphabets by highlighting the unique elements associated with the region

Kalyan Deb

Guwahati: We’ve all grown up hearing and saying, ‘A for apple’, ‘B for ball’, ‘C for cat’, and so on. However, a woman from Guwahati in Assam is taking the English alphabets to a whole-new level in a bid to break stereotypes associated with people from the region. And she is doing it in her own, unique way.

So, you have ‘A for Amroli Tup (a dish made of red ant eggs and relished by people of Assam)‘, ‘B for Bhut Jolokia (popularly known as King Chilly)‘, ‘C for Chuwarak (an alcoholic beverage of Tripura)‘, so on and so forth. What's refreshing is the manner in which she has represented them graphically.

Kasturi Mahanta, 26, took to her Instagram page (thegirlfromthenortheast) to share her artworks that give a Notheastern twist to the English alphabets.

26-year-old Kasturi Mahanta took to her Instagram page ‘thegirlfromthenortheast’ to post her artworks that give a Notheastern twist to the English alphabets
26-year-old Kasturi Mahanta took to her Instagram page ‘thegirlfromthenortheast’ to post her artworks that give a Notheastern twist to the English alphabets
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For Kasturi Mahanta, A stands for ‘Amroli Tup’, a dish made of red ant eggs and relished by the people of Assam, especially the Ahoms
For Kasturi Mahanta, A stands for ‘Amroli Tup’, a dish made of red ant eggs and relished by the people of Assam, especially the Ahoms
Kasturi Mahanta
Similarly, B stands for ‘Bhut Jolokia’, popularly known as King Chilly and used in most of the Northeastern delicacies
Similarly, B stands for ‘Bhut Jolokia’, popularly known as King Chilly and used in most of the Northeastern delicacies
Kasturi Mahanta
In Kasturi Mahanta’s version, C stands for ‘Chuwarak’, an alcoholic beverage of Tripura
In Kasturi Mahanta’s version, C stands for ‘Chuwarak’, an alcoholic beverage of Tripura
Kasturi Mahanta

Mahanta moved to Himachal Pradesh to pursue her higher studies in the year 2010. She got enrolled in the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) there but, to her utter shock, she discovered a tremendous disconnect between the people from Northeast India and the rest of the country.

“It was quite surprising to see that most of the people were in the dark about the culture and tradition of Northeast. They vaguely know about the region and are not aware of the traditions and lifestyle, so there was a huge disconnect. It came as a cultural shock to me. So, since then, it got implanted in my mind to bridge the gap and thus the Instagram page came into being,” Mahanta said.

Mahanta has been working as a graphics designer in a Gurgaon-based advertising agency since 2014. Started around a month ago, her Instagram page wishes to cover all the 26 English alphabets with a similar approach, connecting each letter to the numerous unique elements from the northeast. However, the implementation of the ideas could only be perceived after in-depth research and study that she had carried out while working on a research paper while studying in NIFT.

“The posts are an amalgamation of my learning and research during my NIFT days. During the research I got to learn that that the disconnect is not just between Northeast and the rest of the country but we, as ‘Northeasterners’, are also unaware about a lot of factors about our neighbours like their various tribes and cultures, their cuisines and so many other things. Through the posts, I want to ask a question where we introspect and unlearn what we have been taught,” she added.

Along with the several educational posts that the graphics designer has shared, there are also post that refer to stereotypes that people from the region are often subjected to. Typecasts such as northeasten people consume dog meat, northeast being assumed as an unsafe place and people from the region being termed as a “chinky” in a sharp-witted depictions.

The graphic designer has posted some sharp-witted creatives to depict stereotypes Northeastern people are often subjected to, outside the region
The graphic designer has posted some sharp-witted creatives to depict stereotypes Northeastern people are often subjected to, outside the region
Kasturi Mahanta
In her pursuit to educate and make people aware of Northeast, Kasturi Mahanta has also posted questions that people from the region are often asked about
In her pursuit to educate and make people aware of Northeast, Kasturi Mahanta has also posted questions that people from the region are often asked about
Kasturi Mahanta

While on a pursuit to break stereotypes, Mahanta has chosen not to restrict her creativity to merely the letters but also expressed her desire to explore various avenues such as posting creatives highlighting the various issues revolving around the people from the region.