Inhabited by a plethora of tribes, the state of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most picturesque destinations in India that showcases a distinct culture and diverse traditions. Unequivocally one of the best cultural destinations to visit in India, it is during the festivals of Arunachal Pradesh that the true fervour and zeal of the people can be witnessed.
The people of Arunachal Pradesh celebrate numerous religious, agricultural, and socio-cultural festivals where they sing, pray, dance, pay gratitude, and simply make merry as a single community.
Experiencing any festival celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh not only offers one the opportunity to enjoy the celebrations but also gives a unique peek inside the culture and traditions of the state. If you are planning to visit the state, here are some of the best festivals of Arunachal Pradesh that you can witness: –
The Losar Festival of Arunachal Pradesh
The main festival of Arunachal Pradesh, Losar Festival marks the Tibetan New Year. The festival was originally known as the Agrarian Festival in the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet and was organised to celebrate the blossoming of apricot trees.
Today, the Losar Festival of Arunachal Pradesh is celebrated by the Monpa tribe in the month of February or early March and is observed to ward off evil and to invite happiness and prosperity into the new year. For visitors, this famous festival of Arunachal Pradesh is the perfect chance to savour the taste of locally made drinks and traditional cuisine. During this festival, Aji Lhamu, the traditional mask dance is also performed. Remember, when you run into people during the Losar Festival, wish each other by saying “tashi delek”, which means “good luck”.
The Mopin Festival of Arunachal Pradesh
The people of Arunachal Pradesh believe that the Mopin Festival will help bring in good luck and prosperity along with a good harvest. This festival of Arunachal Pradesh is quite significant for the Galo Adi tribe and is celebrated in the month of April.
The popular Popir Dance of Arunachal Pradesh is an important part of this festival and is performed by dancers in the traditional ornamented attire of the Galo tribe. It is believed that the festival drives away evil shadows and spreads god’s blessing and universal happiness.
The festival is celebrated for 5 days, and the Popir Dance of Arunachal Pradesh is the main highlight of the same. In this dance, the womenfolk of the tribe position themselves in a circular queue and create a roaring sound with rhythmic steps as a group chants the sweet words of the Ja-Jin-Ja and Baryi folk songs.
The Mopin Festival of Arunachal Pradesh offers visitors the chance to indulge in the indigenous culture and traditions of the Galo tribe.
Solung Festival of Arunachal Pradesh
The most popular harvest festival of Arunachal Pradesh, Solung is celebrated in the month of Monsoon, generally in the first week of September. Celebrated for 10 days by the Adi community, the date of the festival is decided by the Kebang (village council) based on the convenience of the villagers. The very first day of the festival sees the slaughtering of an Indian Bison and several pigs in the early hours of the morning, and 1/3rd of the meat is distributed among relatives on the second day. The festival is celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh with a grand dinner feast as well. On Oinnyad, the fourth day of the festival, a family member sacrifices a fowl in the fields for ‘Kine Nane’ (the Goddess). You can also witness a Ponung dance performance and taste some of the local made Apong (rice beer) during the Solung Festival of Arunachal Pradesh, which is a great way to get to know the culture and the socio-economic values of the Adi tribes.
Siang River Festival
Also known as the Yomgo River Festival, this is another one of the main festivals of Arunachal Pradesh. This festival celebrates communal harmony in the state and also promotes eco-tourism. The festival was celebrated as the Brahmaputra Darshan Festival, till 2005.
Today, this famous festival of Arunachal Pradesh offers a lot of adventure and fun activities like traditional boat races, elephant race, river rafting, food festivals, hot air ballooning, paragliding, cultural shows, handloom and handicraft exhibitions, and Didi – the mock war game of the Mishmis. The main aim of the festival is to highlight the vast potential the state has for tourism, and so is a great time to visit as well. If you want to book an Arunachal Pradesh tour package to experience the Siang River Festival, you should plan your trip for the month of December.
Pangsua Pass Winter Festival
Initiated in the year 2007, the Pangsua Pass Winter Festival has become one of the popular festivals of Arunachal Pradesh. This modern-day winter festival is celebrated in Nampong and is a three-day fest that takes place in the month of January every year.
When you witness the Pangsua Pass Winter Festival, you get to see the extravagant ethnicity of Arunachal Pradesh on display as the people of the state perform their amazing folk dances and sing folk songs. You can also check out various handloom and handicraft articles from different parts of the state that are put up on display. The festival brings together various tribes of the North East and Myanmar and offers them a platform where they can showcase their own traditions and cultures to each other and to the world.
Ziro Festival of Music
For all music lovers, Arunachal Pradesh has its own version of the popular Sunburn Festival. One of the biggest outdoor music festivals of Arunachal Pradesh, the Ziro Festival of Music is, without a doubt, one of the most happening events held in the state. Music lovers, not only from all over Arunachal Pradesh but from the entire North East region, gather at Ziro, where the festival is held. The festival is celebrated for four days where you have the chance to enjoy numerous performances by domestic and international music artists. The best part is that many folk acts from all across the North East region are also organised here, which offers visitors an amazing opportunity to learn about the different cultures.
Another famous festival in Arunachal Pradesh, Nyokum of the Nyishi tribe is celebrated every year on the 28th of February. Nyokum is celebrated for prosperity and harmony among people. The word Nyokum comes from the local dialect and can be broken into Nyok, which means land, and Kum, which means People.
Nyokum is celebrated for two days when the Nyishi tribe gathers together to sing and dance. The main rituals of the festival are performed by the high priest who also offers prayers to the spirits to help bring tranquillity and prosperity to everyone and every household.
The Dree Festival
An important festival of Arunachal Pradesh’s Apatani tribe, the Dree Festival is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. The best place to experience this festival is in Ziro. During the festival, the people offer numerous sacrifices of eggs, owls, and animals to the Gods and pray to Tamu, Metii, Danyi, and Harniang.
The people pray to Tami for the protection of their plants from harmful pests and insects, while Metii is worshipped for protection against famines and epidemics. The deity Danyi is offered prayers for protection and prosperity for mankind, while Harniang is worshipped to ensure the soil is fertile and that no paddy plant goes dry. This is a harvest festival where tourists can also enjoy some local made Apong as they get an insight into the traditions of the state.
Viewed as one of the most important festivals of Arunachal Pradesh, Boori Boot is observed to offer gratitude for a successful harvest. The three-day festival is celebrated by the Hill-Miris in the month of February each year. Boori Boot is all about getting together, regardless of one’s caste, creed, sex, and age, and to celebrating the arrival of spring together.
During this festival, the people also pray to the spirit of Boori Boot to bless them from prosperity and to protect them from diseases. People from all over the state gather at the Upper and Lower Subansiri districts to take part in the festival.
This famous festival of Arunachal Pradesh is the main festival of the Nocte tribe, celebrated to say goodbye to winter. Celebrated in February, Loku is an agricultural festival, the date of which is decided by the elders, based on the days of the waxing moon.
The three-day festival begins with Phamlamja, where animals like buffaloes and pigs are slaughtered for meat. The second day is known as Chamkatja, when the Noctes enable the male members of their family to become full members of the decision-making committee, the Paang.
The third day of the festival is known as Thanlangia, when all the villagers, no matter their age or social status, participate in folk dances and songs.
There are several other festivals in Arunachal Pradesh that are celebrated with a lot of pomp and enthusiasm, which just make for another reason why you should consider visiting the state. From natural beauty to cultural experiences, Arunachal Pradesh is sure to leave its mark in your heart.