The Wonder of Eastern Himalaya, Apatani Tribe, Arunachal Pradesh
Have you ever seen any woman to wear massive nose plugs? Have you seen anyone in this modern age to pray to the Sun (Ayo Donyi) and the Moon (Atoh Polo)? Have you ever got any feelings like that you are standing behind 1000 years from now? Yes, my traveler mates, this what a natural untouched wonder of “Eastern Himalaya”. We may themfind it sometime over the net or in some travel books. The modern world calls them “Apatani Tribe”. God might be callingthem “children of the old world”.
The “Apatani”, or “Tanii”, are a tribal group of people living in the “Ziro” valley in the Lower Subansiri district of “Arunachal Pradesh in India”. However more “Apatanis” live outside this valley, making the total population approximately 60,000 all over the state.All “Apatanis” trace their descent from one legendary ancestor, “Abotani”. They migrated to this magnificent valley from northern areas, beyond “Khru and Kime” rivers.Most “Apatanis” are loyal followers of the “Donyi-Polo” faith, who pray to the “Sun (Ayo Donyi)” and the “Moon (Atoh Polo)”.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. The dressing style of this tribe is the main attractive features among the world travelers.“Apatani” male decorate their face with a tattoo on the middle of their chin in the shape of an English Alphabet “T”.The facial decoration of the woman would not be complete without two big nose plug on either side of the nose known as “Yaping Hullo” Likewise big, deep and prominent tattoo on the chin with a good “Piiding( Knot of hair on forehead)” went to enhance the handsomeness of an “Apatani” youth.Therefore there was competition amongst young girls of “Apatani” to have a prominent “Tiipe”, big “Yaping Hullo”, big “Yaru Hukho” with ear ring and “Rutting Yarang”. Another unique aspect of the “Apatani Tribe” is their way of cultivating land and soil. The tribe values the gifts of nature and utilizes every size of land while maintaining an ecological balance. “UNESCO” has named the “Apatani” valley a “World Heritage Site” for its “extremely high productivity” and “unique” way of preserving the ecology.Their wet rice cultivation system and their agriculture system are extensive even without the use of any farm animals or machines.
The most special subject about this Tribe is the “Apatani Women”, which attracts thousands of photographers from around the world every year. There is a mysterious historical tale about them, which attracts all the off=beat traveler to the “Ziro Valley”. History says that, “Apatani Women” used to be the most beautiful women in “Eastern Himalayan” region. As a result the faraway lands were aware of their charming beauty. Kings, leaders of other tribes used to come to steal Apatani Women. This led to a unique tradition where the Apatani men started to tattoo their women and made them wear large nose plugs, called as “yaping hurlo”, in order to make them appear unattractive. Though the tradition is no longer followed by the younger generation, even today one can find many of the older women around “Ziro” following the tradition.
Atlast, I want to say you, once you step into the magic valley of Apatani’s, your soul will be lost into a dream world of very ancient time, where you will be surely able to find the peace without any touch of materialistic world, where you can feel the nature’s gift through the smooth hand of Apatani’s Women, where you can inhale with fresh healthy air in the lush green rice fields. If you are a travel photographer or an off-beat traveler, then “Ziro Valley of Apatani People” must be in your wishlist. If you want to mix yourself with this tribe to feel the originality in them, then you must go in any of their festival time. “Dree, Yapung, Myoko and Murung” are the major festivals of “Apatani”. “Dree” festival is celebrated in the month of July of every year and “Yapung” festival celebrates in the month of September or October respectively. “Myoko” festival is celebrated each year in the month of March in a cyclic manner by forming three groups of villages. “Murung” is celebrated every year in the month of January.