11 Beautiful Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh

11 Beautiful Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh

The people of Arunachal Pradesh are renowned for their lively celebrations and dynamic dance performances. During each festival, the tribes of the state come together in perfect harmony to showcase their traditional attire, jewelry, music, and dance. These captivating folk dances not only add to the festive atmosphere but also narrate tales of valor that have been passed down through generations via word of mouth.

In addition, these dances serve as a window to the outside world, providing a glimpse into their rich cultural heritage. Their festivals are celebrated with great fervor and their traditional folk dances are truly a sight to behold. Join us as we delve into the mesmerizing world of Arunachal’s folk dances. Here's a list of 11 beautiful folk dances of Arunachal Pradesh:

Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh:

1. Buiya Dance

The Bhuiya dance is a joyful dance performed by both Digaru Mishmi women and men, often after grand feasts or family gatherings, and also during festivals like Tazampu, Duiya, and Tanuya, which helps to strengthen the bond between people.

2. Chalo Dance

The Chalo dance is a significant part of the Chalo Loku festival, celebrated by the Nocte tribe in Arunachal Pradesh every year in October and November, to bid farewell to the past season and welcome the upcoming paddy cultivation season.

3. Wancho Dance

The Wancho dance is a vital aspect of the Oriah festival, celebrated by the Wancho tribe in the spring months of March and April, where the dance brings the tribe members together, creating a sense of solidarity.

4. Pasi Kongki

Pasi Kongki, a popular folk dance of the Adi tribe, is a unique representation of their rich culture, where they pay tribute to the brave Pasi who risked their lives to fetch essential items for the villagers, through the medium of dance and song.

5. Ponung Dance

The Ponung dance, a crucial religious celebration for the Adi tribe, is performed by dancing girls and ladies forming a circle, where they pray to God before the harvest season, with a male Miri singing a folk song and playing the Yoksha instrument. The song tells a story about the history of the Adis, the origins of the crops they harvest, and much more. Besides playing the Yoksha, the Miri also use other instruments. It has a sword-like shape, and the Miri shakes it while he sings.

6. Popir Dance

The Popir dance, performed by the Galo tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, is well known. This tribe holds a number of festivals throughout the year. Perhaps the dance is a homage to the goddess Mopin Ape, who is considered the goddess of abundance and procreation. She is one of the Galo tribe's most beloved goddesses. 

7. Bardo Chham

The name Bardo Chham means "Dance of the Zodiacs" in English. The residents of the Sherdukpens community hold the belief that there are twelve evils, one for each month of the year, just as there are twelve zodiac signs. Over the course of the year, they appear in various animal guises. During various local celebrations, Sherdukpens convey this message through the Bardo Chham dance. Both male and female members of the Sherdukpens community dance the Bardo Chham. This dance has a very special place in their hearts. It represents the triumph of good over evil by illustrating the evils that mankind must combat and overcome.

8. Daminda Dance

On the joyous occasion of Dree, women in every household express their love and affection by offering a vessel of rice beer, which is traditionally brewed at home, to their elder brother, sister, son-in-law, guest, and others. In return, the recipient offers them a slice of bacon or roasted meat as a gesture of appreciation. Festivals and other happy occasions are incomplete without the rhythmic beats of music and dancing. The Apatani tribes are known for their diverse traditional dances, including the popular Daminda and Pakhu Ittu. The women and children of the community sing 'Daminda,' a traditional folk song that describes the grandeur of the former Apatanis and is closely associated with the Dree celebration.

9. The Idu Mishmi Ritual Dance

The Idu Mishmi people of Arunachal Pradesh engage in both fertility and ritual dances. The fertility dance, which is usually performed on the last day of the Rren ritual, is a popular form of expression. The Mesalah, Rren, Ai-him, and Ai-ah rites are presided over by the priest and priestesses, with drums accompanying the dances.

The priest is typically attired in a loincloth, short-sleeved jacket, beaded necklace, leather bag slung over the right shoulder, sword, cowry studded headband, tiger tooth necklace, and a few metal bells. Meanwhile, the priestess wears Mishmi skirts, beaded necklaces, and short-sleeved clothing. During the dance, horn bugles and drums are often played.

The dance is performed alternately by the priest and the priestess, with various dancing movements to choose from. Dancers are typically chosen from the audience, in addition to the priest and priestess themselves.

10. The Khampti Dance

The Kamptis, who follow the Buddhist faith, have a rich tradition of dance performances that showcase their history and legends. These dance plays are a key component of festivals such as Khamsang, Sankian, and Potwah, and are enjoyed by all. Villagers send out invitations to the drama party, whose members will perform the plays. Rehearsals for the dance-drama begin about a month in advance of the festival, which is usually held in a monastery or other designated location. 

The performance takes place in an open courtyard near the dwellings, accompanied by musical instruments such as gongs and cymbals. As women are rarely visible in theater performances, men dress up in women's clothing to play feminine roles. The drama party is awarded a monetary reward after their performance, which is used to purchase costumes and masks for future plays. Any surpluses are shared among all participants of the theatre.

11. Rikhampada Dance 

The Rikhampada folk dance is renowned as one of the most vibrant and celebrated folk dances in Arunachal Pradesh. Its roots can be traced back to the Nyishi tribes, which belong to the Lower Subansiri district of the state and are the largest tribe there. The Nyishi tribe typically performs this dance during the popular Nyokum festival.

According to its history, the Rikhampada Dance was introduced to the Nyishi tribes by the Abotanis. This dance has since become an integral part of their cultural heritage, and its energetic and lively movements continue to captivate audiences to this day.

11 Beautiful Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh
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