FESTIVALS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Arunachal Pradesh, the most fascinating and sparsely populated state in eastern India, is a land of tribes. The festivals here are abound with zest and life - based on aspects related to nature and agriculture. Dance is the soul of all the festivals here; performed with pride and belief.
Losar" or The New Year festival, is the most important festival of Tawang District in Arunachal Pradesh. The Monpa Tribe celebrate this as the coming of a new year. The Monpas are the major portion of the population in the Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh.
The initial celebrations start with people cleaning their homes and discarding all the old items to welcome the festival. This festival mostly falls in the last part of February or early part of March. The festival generally lasts for eight to fifteen days and is celebrated with loads of fun and festivity. During the festival days, festivities prayers are offered for prosperity and good health. People hoist religious flags atop their homes and make visits to homes relatives and friends. The holy scriptures are read in every home as part of festival prayer. Lamps with butter are lit in all the houses.
The local tribal’s are believer of their tribe’s customs. The tribes perform rites to protect their land from any sort of evil eye and any kind of supernatural attack. The local deity is worshipped for the welfare of the society and the people. The festival is a colorful event and the people celebrate this festival with their traditional music and dance. People participate with much faith and fun to make the festival a remarkable one. This festival witnesses the local tribal traditions and customs. Monpas enjoy this time with high festive spirit and do a lot of merry making. Feasting with local drinks drinking is organized together with friends and relatives. This festival depicts the social-cultural and native living of the Monpas.
The Dree Festival involves the sacrifice of fowls, eggs and animals to the Gods. The gods worshipped during this festival are Tamu, Metii , Danyi and Harniang. The festival is celebrated to appease these Gods so as to avoid famine in the society. This festival is a part of the Apatanis in Arunachal Pradesh. The Apatanis, reside in a valley called Ziro. Ziro is located at the Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh. The Apatanis are famous for the practice of wet rice cultivation. The Apatanis had invented the wet rice cultivation without using any form of scientific technologies and methods. Rice is the staple food of the Apatanis. The festival falls during the month of July each year and this festival is connected with the cultivation of rice.
During the Dree festival every household prepares the local beer “Apong” and performs cleaning of houses and its surroundings. The head priest (Nyibu) acts as a leader of these celebrations and rituals. The spot for the festival is decided by the priest and the elderly people of the village. The people follow the existing belief of choosing a place of worship near to a paddy field. The spot for the festival is decorated with branded bamboos. The god Danyi is prayed for protection and prosperity of the mankind. Tamu is prayed to protect the plants from harmful pests and insects. Metii is prayed for controlling of famine and epidemics. Harniang is prayed for keeping the soil stable, and preventing the paddy plants from getting dried.
The ‘Solung' is celebrated by the ‘Adi' community. Adi’s belong to the agricultural community and thus this festival is connected with the agricultural activities of the people. Various myths, stories, and beliefs are associated with the origin of the ‘Solung' festival.
Solung is celebrated in the mid-part of the year in the monsoon month of July/August. The date of celebration of this festival is on different days of these months depending upon different villages. But, the final date of the festival is decided by the Kebang or the village council keeping the convenience of the village people in mind. Sometimes, even the headman can also fix the date of this festival along with village leader's consent. Once the date is fixed, rice-beer or ‘Apong' preparation starts. The people start storing fresh vegetables for the occasion.
The Solung festival continues for 7 days and on the first day, the Indian Bison along with pigs are slaughtered in the early hours of the morning. A family can sacrifice depending upon their financial capability. Apong is prepared in plenty and offered on the day of slaughter. Meats of all the slaughtered animals are preserved for the rest of the day of the festival.
The second day of the festival is known as ‘Yegling'. On this particular day 1/3rd of the preserved meat is distributed among the relatives. A grand dinner feast is arranged for neighbours, women and children. Apong, however is prepared on all the days of the Solung festival. Any one of the inmates of the family goes to the field on the fourth day and sacrifices a fowl. A woman or a girl generally offers the Etting and Apong along with the sacrifice. This day is called as ‘Oinnyad'.
Reh, one of the most important festivals of the Idus, is celebrated during the month of February. The inhabitants of the Talo, Amru, and Dri villages of the Dibang valley celebrate it during summer and monsoon. The climate is moderate during this time. In the other parts, the Idus celebrate the same during February to May. The Idus people believe that NanyiInyitaya is their mother and they can only get her blessings only when they perform the Puja or celebrate the Reh festival. The festival starts with the sacrifice of buffaloes for offering to the great mother NanyiInyitaya. Relatives are gifted with money and pigs. The festival is very expensive, thus people start with all the arrangements and preparations four or five years before the actual celebration. Any such person who wants to celebrate this festival takes a local system called as Ada. The system involves the collection of pigs, cash, money etc. After completion of Ada, a tentative year is fixed, which is generally one year ahead of the actual celebration. 'Yunyiphri' - the rice beer preparation, is undertaken three to four months before the actual celebration. The festival is celebrated for 6 consecutive days and the first day is called Andropu. This day is observed by offering prayers for the festival to pass on without any obstacles. The people do Naya dance during the night. The second day is the killing day of animals like mithuns and buffaloes. All the guests who attend this festival are entertained with rice, meat and beer. The third day is called Iyili. On this particular day a heavy feast is arranged and everybody is entertained. Villagers who do not attend this festival are presented with meal-rice.