Arunachal Pradesh is well known for its ancient culture.
Known as the 'The Land of Dawnlit Mountains', Arunachal Pradesh finds mention in prominent scriptures of India, such as the Kalika Purana and Mahabharata.
Sage Parashurama washed away his sins in Arunachal which was then known as Prabhu Mountains.
Sage Vyasa meditated in the forests of this region and Lord Krishna married Rukmini at this legendary site of India.
Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh
The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is truly distinctive as it comprises of 26 different tribes including various sub-tribes.
Each tribe follows its own traditions and customs.
There are mainly three cultural groups in Arunachal.
The first group of the people of Arunachal Pradesh is made of Monpas and Sherdukpens of Tawang and West Kameng districts.
They are the followers of the Lamaistic tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
The second group comprises of Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Bangnis, Mijis, Mishmis, Nishis and Thongsas, the worshipers of Sun and Moon God.
The third tribe of Arunachal comprises of Octes and Wanchos tribal communities of the Tirap district.
They follow basic Vaishnavism and maintain a strict village society that is ruled by a hereditary chief.
Religion of Arunachal Pradesh
Mostly, the people of Arunachal follow their own indigenous religions which is highly inclined towards nature.
However, around 30% of the population of Arunachal practice Christianity.
Some small communities of the region have traditionally been Hindu.
Tibetan Buddhism is the dominant religion in the districts of West Kameng, Tawang and regions adjacent to Tibet.
Near the Burmese border, Theravada Buddhism is the central faith.
Art and Craft of Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is gifted with traditional craftsmen skills that have been passed on from generations to generations.
Local men are skilled in weaving, carpet making, wood carving, painting, pottery, ornament making, cane and bamboo work, smithy work, basketry and many others.
The women are expert in making handicrafts and handlooms.
Food of Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is situated in the farthermost north-eastern border of India.
The influence of tribal communities and nearby Himalayan civilisations is quite evident in the local cuisine.
Rice and meat are the staple food of Arunachal.
Lettuce is quite popular among locals and it is cooked using green chillies, coriander and ginger.
Boiled rice cakes, Thukpa and momos are the traditional dishes devoured by people.
The food is less on spices and is generally mild.
Various forms of rice beers are prepared by local communities, one of them being Apang which is prepared by fermenting rice and millet.
Due to the high amount of variedness among local communities, the food preparation methods differ slightly from district to district.
Festivals and Celebrations in Arunachal Pradesh
The people of Arunachal celebrate various occasions and for various reasons, be it religious, socio-cultural or agricultural.
The tribal people are simple living people and derive happiness out of small things in life.
Since agriculture is the main occupation, there are various festivals where people pray and thank god for a good harvest.
Some of the prominent festivals celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh are Losar, Solung, Boori-Boot, Mopin, Dree, Nyokum, Reh, Si-Donyi, etc.
Dance of Arunachal Pradesh
Dance and music are an essential part of the life of Arunachali tribes.
They dance and sing on important occasions and during the time of festivities and weddings.
Various dance forms are seen in different parts of Arunachal.
From elaborate religious dance dramas of the Buddhists to the martial arts and colourful dance performances of the Noctes and Wanchos, dance forms of Arunachal come in various formats.
They can broadly be divided into four categories- Festive Dances, Ritual Dances, Recreational Dances and Dance Dramas.
Some popular folk dances in Arunachal Pradesh are Aji Lamu, Chalo, Hiirii Khaniing, Popir, Ponung, Pasi Kongki, Rekham Pada, Roppi, Lion and Peacock dance.
Most of the dance forms are accompanied by chorus songs.
Languages of Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is perhaps one of the most linguistically diverse states in Asia.
More than 50 dialects of the Tibeto-Burman language structure can be observed here.
Nyishi, Apatani, Bokar, Galo, Tagin, Adi are common languages which fall under the Tani dialect.
Mishmi language is popular in the eastern part of the state.
Digaru, Idu and Miju fall under mishmi and have been recognised as endangered languages.
In the western and the northern districts, Bodic language is commonly spoken which is sub-divided into Dakpa and Tshangla.
Wedding Celebrations in Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh being a tribal-state has unique social customs.
These include the many rituals performed during a wedding celebration.
These rituals continue for a time span of four to five days and are meant to invoke love and trust in the relationship of not just the couple, but the two families involved.
The marriages can be of two types, either an arranged marriage, known as Aaw Lang Aaw or a situation of eloping known as Thok No Chaii.
In the latter case, the groom is allowed to enter the village only after performing the sacrifice of the native fauna, which is conducted by a priest.
The wedding celebrations start with the groom's family gearing and packing up for spending four nights at the bride's home.
As per the customs, they move to the hilltop on their way and shout 'Ho' to indicate their arrival.
They are welcomed with a grand treat.
A grand luncheon is arranged by the bride's family, on the first day.
Night boogie and the party follow this luncheon.
There are women in disguise of men, in these parties.
On the second day, it is the groom's family who arranges a grand treat, as a reciprocation of love.
The third day, which is the day of the wedding, they splash coloured paints on each other as a way to celebrate the marriage.
After these three days, the groom departs with his family, with the hope of a long-lasting relationship and the bride goes to the groom after a year.
Some of the rituals include the groom adorning the bride with a yellow coloured chain, mostly made of bamboo which is considered sacred.
The bride is welcomed by the groom's family with an offering of sugar (Hopha) and a plate full of blooms (Ban Moya).
The groom's parents have to present before the bride smoked fish (Pha) and cooked sticky rice (Khaw Tom).