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Culture Of Arunachal Pradesh – The North-East Way Of Living

By Amirthavarshini - July 18, 2020
Fort boasting culture of Arunachal Pradesh

Once Mahatma Gandhi Ji said, “ A nation’s culture resides in the heart and soul of its people”. In the same way, Arunachal Pradesh is well known for its ancient culture, traditions and practices. The people of Arunachal Pradesh and their hearts are so pure with moral ethics and cultural values. Pay a visit to Arunachal Pradesh once, and you will never feel like coming back. The Land of Dawnlit Mountains is known for its famous scriptures and historical importance in the past. In this article, let’s dive deep into the culture of Arunachal Pradesh to know the true value of the place.

Tribal woman portraying culture of Arunachal Pradesh
Image credits: Unsplash

Cultural aspects of Arunachal Pradesh

  • Tribes
  • Religions
  • Art and Craft of Arunachal Pradesh
  • Food
  • Festivals and Celebrations
  • Dance Forms
  • Languages
  • Weddings
  • Major Occupation

Tribes

Arunachal Pradesh holds the pride of housing 26 unique tribes and sub-tribes in total. With each tribe following its own tradition, there’s a lot to know about the culture of Arunachal Pradesh. There are three major tribes namely Monpas, Adis and Octes Tribe.

  • Monpas and Sherdukpens are known as the first group of people in Arunachal Pradesh. They majorly belong to the Tawang and West Kameng parts of the state. Head to these regions and know about their Lamaistic tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
  • Followed by Monpas, the second tribal community comprises of Adis, Akas and Apatanis. The sub-tribes of this section of people are Bangnis, Mijis, Mishmis, Nishis and Thongsas. They are ardent devotees of the Sun and the Moon God. 
  • Next in the row comes the Octes and Wanchos tribes. They mainly belong to the Tirap district. You can find their culture similar to the Vaishnavism of Arunachal Pradesh. Also, you will be amused to know that the village is ruled by their hereditary chief.

Also Read: Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh

Religion

Oldman in hindu temple of Arunachal
Image credits: Unsplash

Unlike most of the states in India, Arunachal Pradesh is vividly different in its culture and religion. The people of Arunachal follow their own religion. Their religion is mostly related to nature. Though almost 30 per cent of the state follow Christianity, the remaining population are mostly Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists and Theravada Buddhists. These Buddhist communities are found in the regions of West Kameng, Twang and other places near Tibet. They believe that nature is their ultimate god. Their belief in oneness in God is unmatchable and truly appreciable.

Also read: Famous temples to visit in Assam

Art and Craft

The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is elevated to a whole new level because of the skilled craftsmen. These artists have mastered their respective skills. Also, they pass their skills from one generation to the following generation. Witness the magical hands working on weaving, carpet making, wood carving, painting, pottery and ornament making. You can also spot shops that manufacture and sell bamboo work, smithy work, basketry and much more. The women of Arunachal Pradesh are incarnations of the Goddess Saraswati. This is because of the fact that their hands make wonders in the handicrafts and handloom industry. 

Food

Traditional food of Arunachal Pradesh
Image credits: Unsplash

The food prepared and served in Arunachal Pradesh plays an important role in its culture. Since the state is located in the fertile north-eastern border of India, they get an abundance of rice and vegetables. However, the tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh are strong influencers of the food. Rice and meat are the major staple food. You will find lettuce, green chillies and coriander on every plate you try. Though their food is generally mild with fewer spices, the taste has always been top-notch. Do not miss trying out their Boiled rice cakes, Thukpa, momos and Apang. Visit Arunachal Pradesh and know about their unique way of cooking and also the rich culture behind it.

Festivals and Celebrations

Visit Arunachal during the festival time since the place turns out to be a cultural and colourful paradise. The folks of Arunachal Pradesh celebrate festivals for different reasons such as religious, socio-cultural and agricultural purposes. Since the people of Arunachal Pradesh lead a simple living, they find happiness out of the pretty little things around them. The agricultural festival which is celebrated as a gratitude to God is quite appreciable. Some of the famous festivals are listed below. 

  • Losar festival
  • Solung festival
  • Boori-Boot
  • Mopin festival
  • Dree festival
  • Nyokum festival
  • Reh festival
  • Si-Donyi festival

Dance forms

Traditional folk dance of Arunachal
Image credits: Unsplash

Never miss a chance to dance at Arunachal Pradesh. Dance and music play a key role in crafting the culture of Arunachal Pradesh. Every important occasion is incomplete without their graceful dance and soothing music. You can see various dance forms in different parts of the state.

Religious dance dramas, martial arts and other colourful dance forms will truly captivate your eyes and heart. The highly talented dancers of Arunachal practice several dances such as festive dances, ritual dances, recreational dances and much more. Some of the popular forms of dance include Aji Lamu, Chalo, Pasi Kongki, Hiirii Khaniing and Peacock dance.

Also Read: Ziro Music Festival – An Outdoor Musical Extravaganza amidst the Hills

Languages

The linguistically diverse state of Arunachal Pradesh is a treasure for the country’s culture. You can find more than 50 dialects of Tibeto-Burman language in the state. However, the commonly spoken languages by the tribes are Nyishi, Apatani, Bokar, Galo, Tagin and Adi. On the other hand, Mishmi is the most popular language in the eastern parts. Additionally, the Bodice language is commonly spoken in the western and northern districts.

Weddings

With unique social customs and culture, Arunachal Pradesh performs marriage rituals in different ways. Wedding celebrations specifically last up to five days with activities that invoke the bond of love between the couple. However, the marriages are of two types namely Aaw Lang Aaw (arranged marriage) and Thok No Chaii (marriage by eloping). In both cases, marriages happen while the priest chants powerful Mantras in front of the holy fire. In addition to this, there are also several rituals that engage the families of the bride and groom. This practice is to develop a good relationship and bonding between the two families.

Occupation

Old farmer working in the farm
Image credits: Unsplash

Also Read: Best time to visit Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is bestowed with fertile land and seasonal rains. So, agriculture is the major occupation practised here. Also, with dense forests, the place also acts as a source of high-quality wood. Hence, Timber and teak barks of trees are being cut and used for furniture and other similar industries. On the other hand, there are also few tea, petrochemical and cement industries here. However, one cannot miss out the famous fruit farming and horticulture practised in Arunachal Pradesh.

As we all know, the difference in culture is an accident of birth. However, the true happiness and pride of the nation truly lie in accepting and appreciating every culture and their practices. We are the ones responsible for protecting the age-old culture and their rich values. Visit Arunachal Pradesh to know more about the culture of the place. Because there’s indeed a lot to learn about long-lost pride and legacy. Head to the Pickyourtrail website and start planning your trip to Arunachal Pradesh right away.

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