Arunachal Pradesh is one of India's most beautiful states and has a unique culture. The state is highly colorful due to the several tribes who call it home and its varied culture and traditions. Arunachal Pradesh is undoubtedly among the most incredible locations in India for cultural vacations.
Simply put, the festival seasons are the finest times to travel to this state because they offer the chance to learn more about diversity. There are numerous agricultural, religious, and sociocultural festivals where the community comes together to dance, sing, pray, express appreciation, and have fun. These celebrations undoubtedly increase the appeal of traveling to Arunachal Pradesh.
Here are some of the most popular festivals celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh
The Yomgo River Festival, also called the Siang River Festival, honors the harmony among the people of Arunachal Pradesh. It used to be called the Brahmaputra Darshan Festival and was held in Tezu and Pasighat, but it has been held in Tuting, Yingkiong, and Pasighat since 2005. This festival is very well-known and aims to promote eco-tourism while providing a variety of exciting activities, including elephant racing, traditional boat racing, the amusing mock war game of Mishmis known as Didi, river rafting, food festivals, folk dances, cultural shows, hot air ballooning, paragliding, and showcasing local model homes. Additionally, during the festival, various districts display handicrafts and loom products.
The Pangsua Pass Winter Festival (PPWF) is a modern winter festival that started in 2007 and has since grown in popularity in Arunachal Pradesh. It lasts for three days in January each year and is celebrated in Nampong, a town in the state's Changlang district.
The people of Arunachal Pradesh exhibit their rich culture and perform traditional folk dances and songs during this festival. Additionally, the event offers a venue for the display of numerous handicrafts and handwoven goods from various regions of the state.
The PPWF encourages cultural exchange between nearby nations like Myanmar in addition to showcasing the varied culture and traditions of Arunachal Pradesh. The festival brings together various tribes from Northeast India and Myanmar, allowing them to showcase their unique cultures and traditions to each other.
The most significant outdoor music festival in the state and Arunachal Pradesh's most eagerly anticipated event is the Ziro Festival of Music, which is the state of Arunachal's distinctive take on the Sunburn Festival. Music lovers from all over the state and the North East come to Ziro for the four-day festival to take in performances by both local and international musicians.
In addition to the musical performances, folk acts from the North East region are also organized, giving guests a wonderful chance to become immersed in the region's varied cultures. The Ziro Festival of Music offers attendees the chance to celebrate and take in four unforgettable days.
Solung, an agricultural festival, is celebrated during the monsoon season and lasts for ten days. It is one of the most popular festivals in North East India and is particularly celebrated by the Adi community in the districts of West Siang, East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, Upper Dibang Valley, and Upper Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.
The festival's date varies each year and is determined by the Kebang, or village council, taking the convenience of the villagers into consideration. Once the date is finalized, the locals begin preparing the traditional beer, Apong. On the first day, Indian bison and pigs are slaughtered in the early morning hours. On the second day, one-third of the meat is distributed among relatives, and a grand dinner feast is arranged for neighbors, women, and children.
On the fourth day of the festival, known as Oinnyad, a family member goes to the field and sacrifices a fowl specifically for "Kine Nane." On the seventh day or Ekob, men gather at the village dormitory, also known as "Mosup," to make bows and arrows, which are then hung on the doors of every house in the village.
On the final day of the festival, also known as the tenth day, the village people uproot the weak plants of paddy that have been spoiled by worms and insects. This act is called Irni and is done in the hopes that "Kine Nane" (the goddess) will drive away the pests from the fields.
The Nyokum festival, celebrated by the Nyishi tribe, is a time to promote peace and prosperity in the community. It is observed on February 28th each year in several districts, including East Kemang, Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kummey, and Papumpar. The name Nyokum is derived from the local language and means "Land of the People." The festival spans two days and features singing, dancing, and socializing. The traditional dance involves men and women joining hands in a circle. A high priest performs significant rituals, and prayers are offered to spirits to bring peace and prosperity to each household.
The Monpa tribe in Arunachal Pradesh celebrates Losar to welcome the new year, making it one of the most important festivals in Tawang and West Kemang district, where the Monpa tribe is dominant. Tawang is a popular tourist destination in northeast India, and visiting during the festival is highly recommended.
Losar usually takes place in February or early March and lasts for around 8 to 15 days. During this time, homes are thoroughly cleaned, prayers are offered, religious flags are raised atop each house, and holy scriptures are read. Lamps made with butter are also lit in all the houses. The Monpas worship their local deity during Losar to ensure the welfare of society and its people. It's also a time to enjoy locally-made drinks and savor traditional cuisine.
The Apatani tribe of the lower Subansiri district celebrates the Dree Festival with tremendous fervor and excitement, and Ziro is an excellent place to witness these celebrations. During the festival, people offer sacrifices of fowl, eggs, and animals to the gods and pray to the deities Tamu, Metii, Danyi, and Harniang. The festival is a time to offer prayers to the different gods for various purposes. For instance, people pray to God Tami for the protection of plants from harmful pests and insects, while God Metii is worshipped to prevent famine and epidemics.
Danyi, on the other hand, is prayed to for the protection and prosperity of mankind, and God Harniang is worshipped to ensure the fertility of the soil and prevent the paddy plants from drying up. As part of the festivities, each household prepares a local beer called Apong. The venue for the worship is typically decided by the high priest, known as the Nyibu, who usually selects a location close to the paddy fields.
Boori Boot festival is a way to offer gratitude for the successful harvest of the crops. It is a 3 days festival that is celebrated by the Hill-Miris in the Upper Subansiri and Lower Subansiri districts in the month of February. Boori Boot means to get together irrespective of caste, creed, age, and sex to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Another aspect of this festival is that people pray to the spirit of Boori Boot so that it blesses them with prosperity and frees them from diseases. People from all over Arunachal Pradesh come to Upper and Lower Subansiri districts to be a part of this festival and zealously participate in all the activities organized during the fest. The high priest, who is known as Nibu’ performs the rituals and conducts the sacrifice on behalf of the people.
The Nocte tribe of Tirap district celebrates its chief festival, Loku, as a way of bidding farewell to winter. The name Loku is a combination of two words from the local dialect, "Lofe," meaning to drive out, and "Rangku," signifying the season. This agricultural festival is typically observed in February, and its specific date is determined by the elders according to the waxing moon's cycle.
The festival lasts for three days, beginning with Phamlamja, during which animals such as pigs and buffaloes are slaughtered for meat, the villagers prepare for the festivities by checking their traditional costumes. The second day is known as Chamkatja, during which male members of the family are inducted as full-fledged members of the Paang, the decision-making committee. It is customary for each household to perform a ritual called Chamkat for every adolescent male member on this day.
The third and final day, Thanlangja, is a day of folk dances in which everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social status, participates. These dances are performed at the chief's house and the Paang's premises. Families who have observed Chamkat invite the dancers to perform at their homes and offer food and drinks to the participants. Additionally, Thanlangja provides an opportunity for people to visit their relatives and friends.
With great reverence and devotion, the Khampti tribe of Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh celebrates the highly significant religious festival of Sanken, which falls on the 14th of February every year. Although primarily observed by the Khampti tribe, the festival is commemorated with equal fervor and enthusiasm by the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The three-day festival of Sanken is dedicated to the veneration of Buddha and involves bathing his idol. It also symbolizes the beginning of a new year.
On the first day of the festival, people offer prayers for the well-being of all, accompanied by the rhythmic beating of drums and gongs. Throughout the festival, people strictly adhere to certain prohibitions, such as refraining from the consumption of intoxicating drinks, killing animals, and engaging in illicit sexual activities. Additionally, activities such as manual work, gambling, and tree-cutting are also avoided.
After the ritual bathing of the Buddha's images and holy shrines, people sprinkle each other with clean water and exchange heartfelt greetings. On the final day of the festival, the idol of Lord Buddha is reverently placed back in the main temple, and a grand community feast is organized as a gesture of communal harmony and goodwill.