Guwahati, June 19, 2019
The East and West Jaintia Khasi Hills of Meghalaya boast about its dense jungles and living root bridges that are created naturally by the weaving of roots of the rubber trees (Ficus Elastica). These living root bridges have seen everything from war to tourists walking over them and as they are the only means of transportation to many communities of the Khasi community.
As per a report by The Better India, in an effort to preserve these age-old beauties, Morningstar Khongthaw, a 23-year-old school dropout and founder of the Living Bridge Foundation (LBF), a foundation dedicated to the preservation of this unique cultural heritage is on a journey to preserve these natural bridges
Morningstar a resident of Rangthylliang village in the Pynursla tehsil of the East Khasi Hills district calls himself a ‘living bridge activist’ and he has been involved for the last 5 years in maintaining living root bridges that are damaged beyond repair and also building new ones. He travels from one village to another making people aware of the traditional art of building bridges and how they can take care of this wonderful heritage.
The organization LBF is striding ahead to spread awareness among the Khasi community about the value of preserving their traditional skill and art form of preserving the living root bridges.
Morningstar started the Living Bridge Initiative in 2016 by himself and since then, there was no turning back. He has facilitated awareness through social media. Later, in the year 2018, the strength of LBF increased to 10 passionate members. The team with the help of the local community now repair bridges, construct it, maintain it, raise awareness and also conduct programmes and workshops.
His activism really took off in the year 2015 when he visited the famous Nohwet bridge near Mawlynnong village and there he saw concrete additions made in the area surrounding the tree. This scenario inspired him to sustainable tourism around the living root bridge.
Now, Morningstar’s LBF receives help from all across the globe, for instance, a team from the Technical University of Munich, supported his initiative and even presented him with a camera to take good quality photos.
Currently, Morningstar is preparing for the celebration of the foundation day of LBF on July 20th, 2019 where he is planning to give away awards and recognition to all those living architects and elders in villages involved in planting rubber trees, building living bridges, and maintaining them.