Festival hopping has been one of my favourite reasons to travel around this country. Till now, I have enjoyed every event where I have been to and have really understood what this whole concept of unity in diversity is all about.
But what can one do when the festival management is only interested in making money and gaining free publicity by inviting a bunch of bloggers? People like me will end up there with false information about the place and eventually return with a bad experience.
Basar Confluence has been heavily promoted on social media since last couple of years. Every year, the festival invites a bunch of bloggers who flood Instagram with photos and videos of the event. Getting an idea of the event, I decided to attend the festival in 2019 and despite all my instincts telling me to go back to Hornbill, I decided to give Basar confluence a chance.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations from the festival but what I saw there was absolutely disappointing.
When you have spent a lot of money on influencers in last two year and you have invited another bunch for this year, the expectations should be that the event will have atleast a few tourists who will like to come here. Hornbill festival has never done blogger collaboration and yet the number of tourists arriving here is way more than any event in North East.
I reached the festival venue on day 1 and the whole place didn’t have a single tourists. Over the course of those 8 hours that I spent in Basar, I counted some 18 people who looked like tourists, out of this some 12 people turned out to be influencers who were paid to visit the festival.
We started festival venue in the morning. The confusion started from parking spots while some were able to take their vehicles close to the ground, others had to stop some 500 metres away and then take a road leading to the festival ground. There were multiple parking spots, probably owned by different landowners (or something like that). The road that led to the festival venue was extremely bad. I have been to Aoling Festival and Ziro Festival where the management would make roads as the first measure so that visitors are able to walk without any issues.
This road was also used by officials to enter the festival ground and every speeding vehicle would splash a load of mud on the passerbys.
This road leads to festival venue but it had no arrangements for lighting
The festival was divided in two sessions. The morning session ended around 2 PM and was supposed to start in the evening at 4. Basar is one of the easternmost towns of India where it starts to get dark and cold by 5 PM. The festival venue didn’t have any arrangement for lighting. The whole path that led to the festival venue was really really dark and a lot of people fell because of mud and slippery surface. Even the festival venue didn’t have any lighting because the ones they had put fused in the afternoon.
The concept of stage
No festival in North East (Apart from music festivals) have concept of stage. Stage divides the personal connection between audience and performers. So while Hornbill, Aoling and Wangla use a flat ground where performers dance and sing, Basar Confluence made a huge stage and audience was supposed to sit on the grass around. Only that it rained that afternoon and the seating area turned muddy.
Every other festival has a proper seating area for the audience and the photographer. Here the seating area has half cut trees emerging from the ground and if someone had sat on it my accidently, they would have got hurt.
The concept of stage is long gone because everyone wants to enjoy performances up close.
As said above, the festival timing was divided in two different parts. The morning event would start from 10 and go up to 2 and then it will restart at 4 PM. Both times, the festival started late and eventually, the last few performances ended in haste. The evening one suffered the most because of it because it didn’t only get dark but also colder. You could see performers shivering on the stage as they were wearing their traditional clothes.
It seems that the organizers of Basar Confluence were only interested in getting the word out about this event through paid blogger collaborations. I reached the venue because some of the most credible (not anymore) bloggers had visited it last year and written really nice words about it.
The reality is far different from what these bloggers show in their Instagram posts and it is sad. Basar Confluence is only a sad example of misinformation created in the name of paid collaborations and people like me will end up spending their money and energy to attend something that is not worth it.
Incomplete festival venue
Basar confluence is a must avoid for anyone who wants to experience North East in its true sense. The festival wants to be Hornbill but does everything opposite that has made Hornbill a success. And this is sad because people of Basar were extremely nice. Not going there will not be fair for the performers who came from far away places to showcase their talent here.
In the end, Basar Confluence shows prospects but I won’t suggest anyone to visit the event. The dates clash with Hornbill Festival which is easier to reach. Basar is a gorgeous destination and you can add a stop here while going to Mechuka but it is a better idea if you avoid the festival and avoid disappointment.
Here is one more video, you can guess how bad the lighting conditions were. If you want to attract tourists then the least you can do is to take care of these small arrangements.