Information About Apatani
Tribe name: Apatani (also called Tanii)
Place of origin/current residence: A tribal group native to the Ziro valley in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
Language spoken: Members of the Sino-Tibetan Family.
Estimated Population size: Today, the Apatani are made up of about 26,000 (approximately) people.
Type of livelihood: Most Apatanis are loyal followers of the Danyi-Piilo faith, who pray to the Sun (Ayo Danyi) and the Moon (Atoh Piilo).
Abotani is revered as the sole ancestor of all Apatani and other tribes in the surrounding regions. When a misfortune occurs, they believe that it is caused by certain evil spirits, and thus they make appeasement by sacrificing chickens, cows and other domestic animals.
MYOKO, the festival of friendship and prosperity, is celebrated in a grand manner lasting for all of March each year. Dree Festival celebrated in July, is the main agricultural festival of the Apatanis.
The dress of the Apatanis is elaborate and colorful, yet simple in style. Jilañ, the traditional dress of the priests has recently been made into a five rupee Indian postal stamp. Tattooing (Tiipe) and the stuffing of large nose plugs (yaping hullo) were once popular among the women, although this practice has gradually fallen into decline in recent years. This practice is believed to have started because the women wanted to look unattractive to males from neighboring tribes. Apatani women were considered to be the most beautiful ones among all the Arunachal tribes.
Younger members of this community have stopped this traditional practice. Apatanis celebrate the whole ceremony where they drink and eat with the whole family.Traditionally, the men tie their hair in a knot just above the forehead (locally called piiding) using a brass rod (piiding khotu) measuring 12 inches, placed horizontally. Strips of fine cane belt painted in red (yari) and bent into the shape of a horse-collar with an elongated end were also worn.
Additional Information: The agricultural system of Apatanis is unique of its own, where resources are used judiciously to gain maximum production.For example, every inches of arable land available in the valley is use for cultivation, even the agricultural plot bunds are use for millet cultivation, and limited water resources is use for irrigating all the agricultural plot.
The Apatanis are known for the meticulous care they take of their agricultural fields. Their wet rice cultivation system and their agriculture system are extensive even without the use of any farm animals or machines. So is their sustainable social forestry system. UNESCO has named the Apatani valley a World Heritage Site for its “extremely high productivity” and “unique” way of preserving the ecology
Apatani women wind their way through the farms and fields of the Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh. Carrying baskets full of rice, with the bride’s basket topped with bamboo shoots and a pair of eggs, they find their way to the house of the groom to whom their village relative is getting married. All this is part of a fertility ritual that dates back to ancient times… While the bride’s mother brings up the rear, the bride herself leads the marchers. Nestled in India’s northeast lies the little known state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tribal communities with primarily Buddhist and animist faiths, myriad dialects and unique cultural practices make Arunachal Pradesh a fascinating and little known part of India. Such spiritual rituals occur during many phases of a typical Apatani wedding ceremony and celebration. On reaching the groom’s house, the rice is off-loaded into the family granary at the edge of the village, by the groom’s relatives. The rice has not been de-husked and remains farm-fresh. Meanwhile, as the village women leave, they are given a token of appreciation for their hard work, by the groom’s family members.
Each is given Twenty Indian Rupees in the form of crisp Ten Rupee notes! As they are exhausted after a long early morning trek from the neighbouring village, on the way out they are also given a series of snacks. First comes a cup of tea and then a packet of boiled mithun meat. The mithun is a variety of Arunachali cow. Next comes a strip of seasoned dried pork — often many years old, as is the tradition in the village of Ziro, followed by a boiled egg in the shell. ” Next, the granary is sealed, but not before some more ceremonies are carried out. The bride brings in rice powder and holy water which are the essential ingredients for the wedding ceremony. The village elder who oversees the wedding ceremony brings in some chickens which are then sacrificed as part of the wedding rituals. In all, some 70 to 80 chickens are sacrificed at different homes and locations of the groom’s family. Next, the blood of the chickens is sprinkled in the doorways of the granary followed by the principal household where the young couple will stay, as this is said to bring good luck to the families living inside.
The priests and elders within a village generally carry out such chicken sacrifices, but anyone is welcome to participate. Even as the village elder who carried out the chicken ceremony carries the sacrificed chickens to the couple’s new home, the bride distributes holy water and rice powder to the houses of all her neighbours in the village. Next, the women — young and old, are each given a bottle of whiskey, curiously tied with a string and worn around the neck as a pendant, so as to not to have to worry about it when taking part in the community dance that follows! Next comes the big afternoon feast, the first in a series of feasts that take place over several days. The “rice bowl” of Central Arunachal, around the village of Ziro, is home to these Apatanis, the main Tani tribe.
These tribes practice an animist religion called Donyi-Polo believing in the Sun and the Moon. After the feast, a recycling garbage-collector comes to buy all the used bottles of alcohol, to re-use and recycle them! Clearly, the Apatanis were into good resource management long before the rest of Asia… Lastly, small structures are created out of bamboo, eggshells and chicken feathers in honor of the marriage. They are hung in front of houses and along village paths to bring good fortune to the newlyweds and their families. When carrying out further sacrifices, Apatanis make sure to read their fortunes in the tiny chicken livers. Though the chicken is killed in devotion to Donyi-Polo, most of its parts are used or consumed after the sacrifice. The ritual sacrifice of a pig also occurs to celebrate a marriage. It is cooked over a fire, a day in advance of the final day of the multi-day feast. Chunks of the pig’s meat are first laid out to dry, and then cut and roasted directly over the open fire, while other parts are boiled. Pork forms an integral part of the Apatani diet, and the older the pork the better, as many families preserve vintage pork, not only for future consumption but as a sort of currency for gifting at important festivals such as Myoko which takes in spring.
Reference: Information and Movie (See Above) Contributed by Ajay S Rana, Wilderness Films India Ltd.
Wikipedia contributors, “Apatani people,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Apatani_people&oldid=458758540(accessed January 17, 2012).