Be it the colourful festival of Holi or the Parsi New Year, Navroze or even the Bihu festival of Assam, spring is a time that is always associated with new beginnings and festivities, particularly in India. While the entire country immerses itself in the colours of celebrations, there is one tribe in Arunachal Pradesh that hosts a springtime festival like none other! The ten-day long annual Myoko Festival is a glorious celebration where the members of the tribe seek prosperity and fertility from the gods while indulging in some delicious food and home-made rice beers!
What is the Myoko Festival?
The Myoko Festival is an annual festival held by members of Ziro’s Apatani tribe, who through their unique practices, impress their gods and goddesses. These deities are then said to bring success to the tribals for the rest of the year while strengthening bonds within their families.
The entire region is divided into three groups of villages and these groups then come together to host the festival on rotational basis every year. The festival of positivity and merry-making also celebrates the idea of community living—to such an extent that all houses in the region are kept open 24/7 during the festival and anyone can walk in to enjoy a meal with a glass of rice beer.
Apart from feasting and prayers, there are several stage shows, sports events, singing competitions etc. that take place at the Myoko festival.
About the Apatani Tribe
The Apatani tribe is a well-knit farming tribe from Ziro, best known for their methods of sustainable farming and social forestry. They also happen to be one of the very few tribes in the country who are known to primarily worship nature in the form of sun and moon. In April 2014, Apatani Cultural Landscape has also been added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for “extremely high productivity” and “unique” ways of preserving ecology. Despite the gaining recognition, of both the tribe as well as the Myoko Festival, Apatanis continue to be a simple and loving group of people who believe in just one thing—coexisting with mother nature.
When is the festival happening?
The Myoko Festival takes place every year between the 20th and 30th of March.
Where does the festival happen?
The festival takes place in the stunningly beautiful town of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh.
Why attend the Myoko Festival
Considered to be a festival of purification and sacrifice, the Myoko Festival gives an interesting insight into the lives of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The festival is home to some of the most unique rituals that one has to see to believe!
The most important member of the tribe called the Shaman puts on traditional Apatani clothes and plays a very important role in several practices over the duration of the festival.
The members of the community worship natural forces and non-living objects over the course of the festival as they believe that these are the objects that power the universe!
The second day of the festival sees members of every household searching every nook and corner of the town for pigs and chickens. These animals are then sacrificed in the presence of local priests in order to please the gods and goddesses who in turn bless them with fertility of their farming lands. Newly married women dress up in traditional attires to sprinkle rice flour and rice beer on the pigs, which is considered to be a very important part of the ritual.
The Shaman along with the priest recite long prayers and chants over the course of the festival. Some heart-warming dance performances by newly-wed women and aerial stunts by the men also make for some of the signifcant rituals of the festival.
How to reach Ziro
Here’s how you can reach Ziro from New Delhi:
By Air: Though the nearest airport to Ziro is the Tezpur airport, there are no direct flights connecting the two cities. One can however take a direct flight from Delhi to Dibrugarh which costs around ₹7,000. From the Dibrugarh airport, it takes about 9 hours in a cab to cover the distance of 270 km to reach Ziro.
By Train: There are several direct trains from New Delhi to Dibrugarh, the closest major railway station. It takes about 48 hours to cover the distance of 2,500 km. It takes another 9 hours to reach Ziro from the Dibrugarh railway station.
What about Tickets
There are no tickets to the Myoko Festival and anyone can become a part of the festivities free of cost!
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