Fair and Festivals are the integral part of tribes along with traditional dance and folk music. There are numbers of festivals celebrated by various tribes of different states throughout the year. Festival season is the best time to know the culture and traditional costumes of a paradise unexplored called North East India. The major festivals of northeast India are Bihu,Brahmaputra Festival of Assam, Hornbill and Sekrenyi festival of Nagaland,Torgya Monastery Festival Arunachal Pradesh,Shillong Autumn Festival, Chapchar Kut from Manipur,Ningol Chakouba Festival Manipur and Kharchi Puja from Tripura. These are few festivals that we have mentioned and there are many more to explore and enjoy.
DREE FESTIVAL OF APATANI TRIBES:
The Dree Festival of Arunachal Pradesh is an agricultural festival celebrated by the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The Dree Festival is the biggest festival of the Apatanis and celebrated with zest marked by sacrificial offerings and prayers.
The Dree Festival of Arunachal Pradesh is celebrated on July 5 with the pre-celebration rituals starting from the evening of July 4 every year. The main and the biggest celebration of this festival happens at Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. During the Dree Festival prayers are offered to please the 4 Gods – Tamu, Harniang, Metii, and Danyi to bring in a bountiful harvest season. Fowls, eggs, and animals are sacrificed during this festival as part of the rituals. The festival is marked by grand ritual and community feasts served with delicious rice/millet beer. Traditional songs and dances are also displayed as part of the Dree celebrations. The day long festival is also an occasion where womenfolk brew wine and visit homes of their relatives and present them the wine as a symbol of love and affection.
The Dree Festival of Arunachal Pradesh is a celebration of the agricultural way of life for the Apatanis.
MYOKO FESTIVAL OF APATANI TRIBES:
One of the most impressive festivals of the Apatani in Arunachal is Myoko. It is celebrated in spring. In it age-old beliefs in the possibility of attaining and directing fertility to the fields and the people are interwoven with methods of strengthening family, clan and inter-village ties.
The most important day is the day of the great pig sacrifices. It is believed that on this day the gods and goddesses will bless the place. At 2 o’clock the pigs are brought to the sacrificial place. From 4 o’clock onwards the priest starts reciting prayers which last for many hours. With the sunrise the freshly married women appear in their festive attire and sprinkle rice flour and rice beer over the dozens of pigs lying on the ground. At the same time the assistant priest sacrifices chickens on an altar on the sacred ground. After the main Myoko priest has been chanting his prayers for several hours, selected pigs receive special rituals in which the priest’s assistant cuts open their bellies and rips their hearts out (when they are still alive). The other pigs are carried back to the houses where the priest will later sacrifice the pigs in the same way as described above.
MOPIN FESTIVAL OF GALO
Mopin is the main festival of the Galo Tribe. This festival is celebrated in the month of (Lumi) April every year. It’s held on 5th April. It is celebrated with much gaiety for wealth, good health and universal happiness. Such festivals are celebrated at a large scale for thanking gods for their providence and for a bumper crops. During Mopin festival, smearing rice powder in Published on State Portal of Arunachal Pradesh each other faces marks the beginning of the festival. And animal sacrifices are the ritual of the Mopin festival. Mithun is a very auspicious animal and used in animal sacrifice ritual. Mopin across Arunachal Pradesh lasts for a grand total of five days principally during the month of April. This festival is celebrated prior to sowing the paddy. One other feature of the Mopin festival is that a dance known as Popir is performed in a very elegant way. Popir is one among the most popular dance forms of Arunachal Pradesh. It is an indigenous dance form. Popir dance is also performed by Galos. This beautiful dance form shows great resemblance with the Ponung Dance. The dance is mainly performed by young girls; the performers wear white dresses and elaborate headgears. They dance on their best traditional costumes and adorn themselves with multi-colored beaded ornaments. During this festival rice wine (apong) is served, prepared by the women of Galo community. Varieties of meals are served, made of rice which is known as Aamin, meat and bamboo shoot. The primary reason that lies behind feting this spectacular festival called Mopin is to drive away evil spirits who bring bad luck with them and pose a lot of vexations. The local folks also pray during the festival known as Mopin in Arunachal Pradesh so that even the cursed shadow of any devastating natural calamity does not hit them and they can lead their lives peacefully and prosperously.
REH FESTIVAL OF IDU
Reh is one of the most important festivals of the Idus. The Idus believe that they are the sons and daughters of the divine mother 'Nanyi Inyitaya'. But none can get her blessings and keep alive bond of brotherhood and social feeling strong, unless one performs the puja or celebrate the Reh festival. But it is so expensive that only a few people can afford to celebrate the festival for propitiation of the supreme creator, the great mother 'Nanyi Inyitaya'
The festival is celebrated during February-August. The people who inhabit snow fall areas viz. Talo, Amru, and Dri villages of the Dibang valley celebrate it during summer and monsoon i.e. during June-August, when the climate is moderate and shoal of fishes are available in streams and rivers. The Idus in the other parts celebrate the same during February to May.
The festival requires a number of sacrificial buffaloes for offering to the great mother 'Nanyi Inyitaya'. Presents such as money in cash and pigs are given to the relatives.
The festival being very expensive, all arrangements and preparations for the festival have to be made four or five years before the actual celebration of the festival. As such a person wanting to celebrate this festival has to take resort to the system locally called 'Ada' which is nothing but collection of mithuns, pigs, cash, money etc., even by way of loan from others. When 'Ada' is completed a tentative year is fixed about one year ahead of the actual celebration. The preparation of rice beer in large scale locally called 'Yunyiphri' is under taken, three to four months before the actual celebration.
BOORI BOOT FESTIVAL OF NISHI
The Boori Boot festival is exclusively performed by the Hill-Miris( NOW Nishi Tribes). The festival usually falls in February. Boori Boot means to get together irrespective of age, sex, caste to hail the spring and successful harvest. The festival also invokes the spirit of Boori Boot to bless them with prosperity and free from diseases of any kind. The festival is performed collectively. The young members do all the work under the elders guidance. The Nibu (priest) performs Puja as well as conduct sacrifice. 'Etting' is profusely applied on one and all. The festival is of three days duration.
LOSAR FESTIVAL OF MONPA
Losar is one of the important festival of Monpas. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the advent of new year. Before the commencement of Losar, they make arrangement for a feast with local drinks where all the relatives and friends are entertained and wish each other happy New Year (Tashi Delek) of the 15th day of the same month they bid good bye to Losar festival with merry making.
There are many more festivals festivals which are celebrated all around Arunachal Pradesh
MOATSU FESTIVAL OF AO
Among the Aos, the most important festival is Moatsu, which is celebrated after the sowing is over. The festival last six days. On the first night of the festival sexual intercourse was forbidden. Every man was required to wear a new belt, for hanging his dao. The unmarried men received belts as presents from their girl friends, the married men got from their wives. During this occasion, the restriction relating to dress and ornaments were relaxed. People could wear even the forbidden ones according to their will.
The most important role, during the festival used to be played by the youths of the bachelor's dormitory. Before the festival, the morung had to be repaired and cleansed. The dancing drums were also put to order by attaching new skins. On the first day of the festival, the boys belonging to the younger age-groups used to go to the jungle and collect six bundles of paired bamboo strips each. These they handed over to the morung elders, for use according to their discretion. On the second day, all the boys and grown-up males engaged themselves in clearing the village, particularly the main approaches to the village. That night, the cows and the pigs to be slaughtered on the occasion of this festival were tied outside the morung. On the third day, the cows and the pigs would be killed. The meat was distributed among the boys of the morung and some portion was kept apart, to be given as present. In the evening, the boys would eat the meat outside the morung. Later some old men would come to the morung and would be entertained with meat and rice-beer. When they would eat the meat, the boys would be singing songs inside the morung. On the fourth day, the people of Mongsen Khel would dance in procession; in all the streets of the village. On the fifth day, the people of Chungli Khel would dance similarly. The women were not to take any part in these dances, but at intervals they served rice-beer to the dancers. The old men also would not dance, but follow the dancer, singing songs. A drummer always accompanied the party and the people would dance to the beatings of the drum. On the sixth day, both the Khels used to dance together.
SEKRENYI OF ANGAMI
The principal Angami festival in the Sekrenyi. It is celebrated in February by the Western Angamis and in December by the Southern Angamis. The festival is to ensure the health and well being of the community during the coming year. It is an occasion of great merry making, enormous quantities of rice-beer, beef and pork are consumed. An interesting feature of the festival is that the men have to prepare a separate hearth and abstain from any sexual relation for the first two days.
Hornbill festival in Nagaland christened as the 'Festival of the Festivals' showcases the Naga culture and tradition of all 17 Naga tribes of Nagaland and neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Several events are held over the ten days of the festival, beginning from 1st December, at Naga Heritage village, Kisama located about 12 km away from the Naga capital Kohima.
An ethnic wooden craft 'Naga Traditional Welcome Gate' with traditional fineries of the Naga tribes welcomes visitors to the Naga Heritage village. The village has been designed with structures and features to give you an experience of a traditional Naga village. Of the exhibits Naga morungs or traditional huts of different tribes made with bamboo and cane and decorated with wood carvings and hunting trophies are spectacular. During the festival, Naga tribes perform traditional dances and music, along with indigenous games and sports, including wrestling.
Organised by the State tourism and Arts & Culture departments, the festival aims to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and showcase its ethnic customs and traditions to the world. Besides the traditional extravaganza, events include Hornbill International Rock Contest (HIRC), Hornbill International Musical Festival, North East Cultural Day, Hornbill Charity Concert-cum-Ball, Hornbill Master Chef Competition, Hornbill Snooker Championship, Hornbill National Dance Competition, Miss Nagaland Contest, Hornbill Annual Cycle Rally, Kids Carnival, 'Glocal' (Glocal) Film Fest, Vintage World War II Motor Rally, International Car Rally and many other competitions. Over 25 bands including bands from the US, UK, Norway, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia take part in the Hornbill International Rock Contest (HIRC) held for 4 days at the Naga Solidarity park during the festival. While the Horbill shopping festival promotes the display and sale of indigenous Naga crafts andproducts, Food fest give Naga food the desired focus.
AOLENG OF KONYAK TRIBES:
It is a time to enjoy after the backbreaking seed-sowing phase. Pound, chop and brew rice, meat and beer. Add fishing, hunting and sports to singing, dancing and feasting adorned with the best costumes, ornaments and trophies from the battle-past. With true total devotion, rituals and prayers to deities Youngwan and Kahshih for good health, harvest, safety and progeny. Being a part of it you will have the perfect recipe for Aoleng Monyu, the most important festival of the Konyaks.
BUSHU FESTIVAL OF KACHARI TRIBES:
The Death dislike tongue-twisters. ‘Makhangarkhaoba’, the ritual during Bushu is to serve all connection with the dead, would imply just that.Yet another marathon observance, Hangseomanoba, peps up the living.
To Kacharis, Bushu is the music for the soul. That explians why the Muree, the flute, is played throughout the festival without a seconds break. Loaded with granaries and sacrificial animals power, this music that flows after the village priest offers meedo-karba (cooked rice and meat) to the Creator.
Bushu is a time for one to show one’s physical skill through traditional sports. It is also a celebration of the village unity at the Nodrang (Morung), about celebrating the battle victory of ancestors, and above all, showing respect to the elders and parents through the Od Busu ritual.
Rath-Yatra in Manipur is known as kang. The festival is celebrated with full fun and great enthusiasm. Kang of Shree Shree Govindajee Temple is the largest one in the state, on this day deities of Shri Jaganatha, Shri Balarama and Shri Subhadra are carried out from the main temple in a religious way playing traditional music instruments of pung and moibung and is placed in the Rath (a form of car). Kang is celebrated for about 10 days. The festival falls in the month of June or July (Ingen according to Metei Calendar). Devotees performed “Sankirtana’ every night in the Mandap and after that Brahmans offer Khechiri with cuisines like eromba, hawai (dal) and much more.
This is one of the religious festivals of Manipur. Laiharaoba is celebrated to honor UMANG LAI (an important deity of the state). The festival is observed with full fun and entertainment. Every evening variety of programs performed in Laibung (an open place). During day time devotees perform Jagoi with Maiba and Maibi into the tune of local folk music. It is celebrated by Meitei Society only in the month of April.
Every year the Government of Manipur, Spearheaded by the Tourism Department, celebrates the Manipur Sangai Festival from 21st to 30th of November. The Festival strives to showcase and promote the best of what the state has to offer to the world in terms of art and culture, handloom, handicrafts & fine arts, indigenous sports, cuisines & music, eco & adventure sports as well as the scenic natural beauty of the land. Moreover, the Festival has assumed great significance in recent years and every edition essential celebrates ethnic diversity of Manipur Society. Participation of various Indian States, foreign traders and cultural troupes in the Festival this year will make it grander in scale and style. Further many entertaining items like Fashion Shows, Rock Shows, etc. The Festival is the right venue for innovative people with innovative ideas meet on a common platform.
Assam is a land of fairs and festivals and the majority characterise the spirit of accommodation and togetherness of the diverse faiths and beliefs found there. This perfect fusion of heritage shared by the numerous races living in Assam has made it home to the most colourful festivals and reflects the true spirit, tradition and lifestlye of its people.
The major festivals celebrated in Assam are Ambubashi Mela (for all Hindus), Bihu (for everyone), Baishagu and Kherai (for Bodo), Ali-Ai-Ligang (for Mising), and Me-Dum-Me-Phi (for Ahom).
The people of Assam also celebrate Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali, Swaraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Idd, Muharram, Christmas Day and the birth and death anniversaries of Vaishnava Saints Srimanta Sankardev and Madhabdev.
Many of the traditional dances are only performed at specific festivals and we describe the major ones below. Some customs may vary from village to village within the same community.
This is the most important festival of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and is held every year during monsoon (mid-June). This festival is closely related to the Tantric cult and is also known as Kamakhya Devi Puja. It is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her menstrual cycle during this time and for three days the doors to the temple are kept closed because the earth is impure. Ambubachi Mela is celebrated at the Kamakhya temple on the fourth day when thousands of devotees from all over India and abroad are once again allowed to enter the temple for worship. When the doors are finally opened the devotees charge through hoping to receive prasad, small pieces of cloth supposedly moist with Goddess Kamakhya’s menstrual fluid, and which are considered highly auspicious and powerful.
Bihu is the most important and widely acknowledged festival in Assam and is celebrated with joy and abundance by everyone irrespective of caste, creed, religion, faith or belief. There are three Bihus, each one marking a distinct phase of the annual rice-farming calendar and they are held at three different times of the year. The Bihus, Bohag Bihu, Kati Bihu and Magh Bihu, are named according to the months of the Assamese calendar.
Bohag or Rongali Bihu, the most important, is celebrated in the middle of April. It marks the Assamese New Year and coincides with the advent of spring and seeding time. Rongali in the Assamese language means colourful so, as the name suggests, this is the most colourful and vibrant of the three Bihus and can continue for several days.
Kati or Kongali Bihu, the quietest, is observed rather than celebrated in mid-October. It is held just before the rice is harvested and involves silent prayer in the form of lighting earthern lamps in the paddy fields to ensure the success of the crop. The Assamese word kongali means scarcity or deprivation and the mood of this Bihu is very sober with none of the usual dancing and singing.
Magh or Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in the middle of January immediately after harvesting the rice crop with village feasts (bhogali means feasting in Assamese).
At Bohag Bihu (which also marks the Assamese new year) and Magh Bihu (the harvest festival) young women dressed in colourful traditional festive costumes woven out of pure muga (silk) dance and are accompanied with wild and lusty beats from the men dressed in dhoti (baggy white pants) with gamuchas (traditional scarves) tied round their foreheads playing the dhol and pepa.
The dhol is an essential part of Bihu. It maintains the rhythm and is similar to an Indian drum, played with two sticks and made out of a wooden barrel. The two open ends are covered with animal skin. Tightening or loosening the skin with ropes or nuts and bolts adjusts the pitch. The dhol dates back to the 15th century when it was played during wartime. The pepa, a chunky flute-like instrument, is also played during Bihu. It is made from buffalo horn with a short tapering stem of bamboo, cane or reed as the mouthpiece.
The songs are mostly based on the theme of love and often carry erotic overtones. Bihu dances are extremely energetic and feature both young boys and young girls, although they tend to stay in their separate groups. The dances are charactised by brisk steps, stylish footwork, the flinging and waving of hands and the erotic swaying of hips to represent youthful passion.
The first phase of Bohag Bihu is dedicated to cattle. They are smeared with mustard oil and then taken to the nearest pond or river for a ceremonial bath. The people, too, take a bath in the river. The first part of the dance consists of Husari Kirtans (religious songs). One man sets the refrain, which is soon picked up by the rest and young men only perform the dance in a circle.
Both young men and women take place in all the other Bihu dances where the songs are often love ditties which are sung in couplets and often performed in the fields and under trees. Both men and women play clappers called taka and the dancers form circles, rows and figures of eight (representing the motif of intertwined serpents).
During the second phase of Bohag Bihu villagers don new clothes, exchange gifts and visit relatives and friends in groups and perform Bihu dances in the open.
Magh Bihu also brings much revelry and merry-making. Bonfires are built high and after the chanting of prayers and much singing and dancing they are set on fire. The dances are similar to the ones performed at Bohag Bihu but more vigorous.
The women folk make different varieties of delicacies or Bihu pithas (flaky rice powder pancake rolls) like Til Pitha which is stuffed with sesame seeds fried with molasses. In the paddy fields during the day the men build megis (large bonfires) and Bihu ghors (temporary house-like structures made from bamboo and thatch) and in the evening they feast and there is much singing and dancing. Next morning they bathe early, chant prayers and set the Bihu ghor alight as they celebrate with more singing and dancing. They then take pieces of burnt wood to the fields as auspicious offerings. People will also visit their relatives and friends at this time and games are sometimes organised like bull fighting, javelin and sword fights. Being a harvest festival, Magh Bihu is celebrated almost everywhere in India and is known as Sankranti.
A two or three day Deodhani festival is also celebrated every year in the middle of August when thousands of brightly dressed devotees, encircled with brilliant fresh flower necklaces and adorned with vermillion die, flock to Guwahati and make trance offerings to the Serpent Goddess (Manasa Puja) at the Kamakhya temple there. The dance begins in the evening and continues until dawn as the devotees express the sacrifice of their lives to the holy goddess. As they dance they flourish live pigeons and goats which are later sacrificed in the temple.
Ali-Ai-Ligang is the spring festival of the Mising (descended from the Astro-Mongoloids). Originally a hill tribe from Tibet and Mongolia, they travelled from Manasa Sarovar, the highest freshwater lake in the world and settled in Arunachal Pradesh and the plains of Assam in around the 8th century.
Ali-Ai-Ligang is the most colourful festival and occurs every year on the first Wednesday of the month of Ginmur Polo (February-March) in the Mising calendar. It is held to appease mother earth and the fore-fathers of the Mising and to mark the new sowing season. Ali means root or seed and ai means fruit and ligangmeans sow and the heads of families ceremonially sow paddy in a corner of their respective rice fields in the morning hours and pray for a good crop during the year as well as for general abundance and well-being on this day.
The festival continues for five days and on the fourth day there are taboos regarding cutting trees, fishing, ploughing and burning jungle that must be strictly observed and the Mising take complete rest that day. Dancing and singing is a big feature of this festival when the young boys and girls don traditional costumes. They dance Gumrag Pakes Cha Nam, characterised by brisk stepping, flinging and flapping of hands and swaying of hips to indicate youthful passion, reproductive urge and general gaiety which is accompanied by drums, pipes, flutes, cymbals and gongs. The gong is only ever played at Ali-Ai-Ligang and the drums have a special beat for the Gumrag dance.
The formal dance of the festival starts on the courtyard of the easternmost house in the village. The performers dance in circles on the courtyards of every house in the village and in return the host rewards the dancers with rice beer, chicken and even on some occasions cash. The dancers often move outside into the fields.
The songs sung at Ali-Ai-Ligang are not confined to the songs of youth alone. Their themes are vast and varied and include the life of man, his sufferings and death. However there is focus on the joy and sorrow of love.
The last day of the festival is called lilen and is celebrated with Dapan Tipan, a huge community village feast that includes pork and dried fish and at which poro apong or rice beer is drunk.