Arunachal Pradesh, the Land of Rising Sun, is much celebrated for its natural beauty, but very few people know that this Indian state has a great cultural background too. Its god-fearing people celebrate numerous festivals round the year, together with their own set of rituals, music and dance. Regardless of their religions and communities, people live here harmoniously and share each other’s joys and sorrows. The rich culture of the state gets its colors from the handicrafts that reveal the expert craftsmanship of artisans.
The people of Arunachal Pradesh are polite and friendly. Nearly all people residing here are either of Tibeto-Burman or indigenous tribal origin. The state’s 16% of population are migrants, together with 30,000 Bangladeshi and Chakma expatriates, and immigrants from other parts of the country, especially Assam and Nagaland. It has 20 major tribes and numerous sub-tribes living in the villages across the state. The majority of these communities are culturally identical; however, geographical division has crafted different characteristics in language, dress and customs within them.
Different tribal groups have their own set of beliefs and notions about their religion. As the people of Arunachal Pradesh are segregated into three cultural groups, each group practices its own religion. The people of the first group are usually Buddhists, while people of the second group practice Donyi Poloism (worship the Sun God and the Moon God). Christianity and Hinduism are generally observed by people of the third group.
Music plays an important part in the festivities, whether it’s of marriage or festival, in Arunachal Pradesh. Here songs’ themes are based on fables related to creatures and animals. The folk songs of Pailibos are correlated to their folk history, mythology and their historical accounts. Ja-Jin-Ja is a special song that is sung on occasions of feasts and merriment, like marriages and social gatherings.
Baryi is another song in which the history, religious lore and mythology is narrated. Music is often accompanied by musical instruments, like Drums and Cymbals.
Dance is not only meant for recreation but it also helps to boost festive spirit amongst people. Here people usually prefer group dances, in which both men and women coordinate their steps. Igo dance of the Mishmi priests, War dance of the Adis, Noctes and Wanchos; traditional dances of the Buddhists are some the popular dances, in which women are not allowed to participate. Aji Lamu (Monpa), Roppi (Nishing), Buiya (Nishing), Hurkani (Apatani), Popir (Adi), Pasi Kongki (Adi), Chalo (Nocte), Ponung (Adi), and Rekham Pada (Nishing) are some of the famous folk dances from Arunachal Pradesh.
In Arunachal Pradesh, festivals make an essential part of the socio-cultural lifestyle of the people. A number of festivals are celebrated throughout the year in the state by one or the other tribe. Even festivals are observed in a wide range, including agricultural festivals, religious festivals, and socio-cultural festivals. Generally agricultural festivals are commemorated at bigger scale with rituals to thank the God for his kindness. Some of the major festivals are Mopin, Solung (Adis), Losar (Monpas, Sherdukpens), Boori-Boot (Hill Miris), Dree (Apatanis), Si-Donyi (Tagins), Nyokum (Nishis), Reh (ldu Mishimis), etc.
Art & Craft:
Most of the tribal groups in the state are recognized for their own artistic craftsmanship. The Buddhist tribe specializes in making amazing masks. In fact, silverwares and beautifully painted wooden vessels are also famous from this community. Carpet making is also practiced by the Monpas; these carpets are known for their exotic designs. The central part of the state has got skilled craftsmen of cane and bamboo; their products include a variety of hats, baskets, cane vessels, cane belts, bamboo mugs, and ornaments. The eastern part is celebrated for its wooden carvings, and here you can get exquisitely carved cups, dishes, fruit bowls, etc. Other crafts known from the state are paper makings, smithy work, carpentry, pottery, weaving, and ivory work.