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The People of Arunachal Pradesh

10 May,2022 07:13 PM, by: Manna Mili
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Blessed with lush landscapes and surreal surroundings, Arunachal Pradesh is not only a hotspot for tourism but a treasure trove of deep-rooted cultural heritages that belong to the 26 major tribes and several other sub-tribes of the region. Every tribe in Arunachal adhere to a unique set of traditions and customs. Broadly speaking, these tribal groups can be divided into three major groups according to the cultural practices they follow –

-         Followers of Buddhism

-         Followers of Donyi Poloism

-         Practitioners of an elementary form of Vaishnavism.

The Monpas and Sherdukpens of Tawang and West Kameng districts follow the lamaistic traditions of Mahayana Bhuddism. The villages of these communities have decorated Buddhist temples, which are known as Gompas. There are other communities as well who follow Buddhism, but their practices slightly vary from that of the Monpas and Sherdukpens. The Khamptis and Singpos are Hinayana Buddhists who live in the state's eastern regions and are deemed to have migrated from Thailand and Burma. These communities still use their ancient scripts that were derived from their original homeland.

The second group comprises the Noctes and Wangchos inhabiting the districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding. The villages for these communities are still controlled by the Chief and all other people strictly follow them. Between the two, Noctes are popularly known as salt producers, which used to be their primary occupation during the era of barter system. Similarly, the customary headhunting ways of the Wangchos in the past made them well known as headhunters today. The Wangcho women are also known to be excellent weavers, as well as experts in wood crafts.

The third group comprises a very large number of tribes, which includes the Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Nyishis, Mishmis, Mijis, Tangsas, Galo, Tagins, Hill Miris and many more. Collectively, they are known for their common ideological beliefs. They are the worshippers of the Sun and the Moon, which is called as Donyi Polo. They consider themselves to be the descendants of Abo Tani, the original ancestor of these tribes. The religious rituals practiced by this sub-group mainly coincide with the phases of agricultural cycles. These communities maintain a highly-organized system of functioning in their villages. Every issue or matter concerning the community or an individual is resolved at the village level. Their traditional village panchayats are governed by a group of people, consisting of mostly elderly people, who pass judgement on all issues that are brought to the panchayat.

The best way to experience the indigenous cultures and heritages of the locals here is through their various festivals. The vibrant cultures of the different tribes of Arunachal are beautifully displayed during the festivities – from witnessing their ritual practices to their melodious dances and songs. Here, the locals will invite you in to join them in their celebration and offer you an incredible opportunity to feast on their local delicacies.

It is interesting to note that besides the fast-moving modernization of societies across the globe, the indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh have been able to hold on to their cultural and traditional identities. The state of Arunachal Pradesh is definitely on its path to greater developments. However, it is anticipated that the locals of the land will put equal efforts in retaining their ethnic roots while moving ahead with times. After all, the true beauty of Arunachal lies with its people and their culture. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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