Assam’s moidams fit UNESCO requirements for heritage site

Assam’s moidams fit UNESCO requirements for heritage site

Why in news :

  • Assam’s pyramid-like structures known as moidams or maidams have met all the technical requirements of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.
  • Charaideo in eastern Assam has more than 90 moidams, the mound-burial system of the Ahoms who ruled large swathes of the present-day State and beyond for some 600 years until the advent of the British in the 1820s.

About Maidams :

  • maidam is a tumulus of the royalty and aristocracy of the medieval Ahom Kingdom (1228–1826) in Assam.
  • The royal maidams are found exclusively at Charaideo; whereas other maidams are found scattered in the region between Jorhat and Dibrugarh towns.
  • Structurally, a maidam consists of vaults with one or more chambers.
  • The vaults have a domical superstructure that is covered by a hemispherical earthen mound that rises high above the ground with an open pavilion at the peak called chow chali.
  • An octagonal dwarf wall encloses the entire maidam.
  • Burial is the predominant funeral rite of the Tai people, to which the Ahom people originally belonged.
  • This is opposed to the Hindu system of cremation. After the Ahom kings adopted Hinduism, they chose to bury the ashes after cremation.
  • The Ahom community in Assam consider the excavation as an affront to their tradition, because the maidams are associated with the Ahom ancestor worship and the festival of Me-Dam-Me-Phi.
  • Inside the Maidams there are underground vaults or chambers for different purposes, one for keeping the body of departed king with all the necessary things for afterlife, and others for the servents, care-takers, horses and elephants.
  • The present height of Maidams is reduced due to various natural calamities.
  • In earlier times at least 10 living persons were buried alive with the departed king to take care of him in afterlife, however this custom was abolished by Rudra Singha.
  • Height of the Maidams depended on the power of the kings, most of the Maidams were not designated by the name of kings, so most remain unidentified, except the Maidams of Gadadhar Singha and Rudra Singha.

Syllabus : Prelims