Dree Festival is a fertility festival of the Apatani Tribe
. This festival is held annually on 5th of July every year. The word `Dree` is derived from `Diiri`, which means purchasing or borrowing of food items when in scarcity or add to the existing stock in anticipation of lean days.
Dree Festival is named after Diiri Piilo, a month in Apatani calendar. This festival has some mythological grounds of various types. According to one traditional version, Anii Donii, the Mother Sun and Abo Liibo, the Father Moon, obtained paddy seeds from Murtu Yaring and sowed it in the fields of Arunachal Pradesh
. The yield was, however, poor so a priest called, Nyibu Kharii propitiated Harniyang Pubyang following which crop yields increased. Ever since, people celebrate this festival for good crops every year.
In other ways it is found that, the Abotani, the ancestor of mankind, obtained paddy seeds from god Herii. While he was hunting in the jungle one day, Abotani saw a bunch of paddy hanging on a branch of a Herii Tangu Sanii tree. Since it was too tall for him to reach, Abotani waited until winter for it to ripen and fall down. As expected, with the approach of winter the paddy bunch, ripened but fell into a river known as Hachi Hassang Ka Hado Siigang, which flowed beside the tree thus becoming out of reach for Abotani.
The ancestor of this tribe searched the paddy seeds all around and finally obtained it from two fishermen called, Dirri Aki Diiro Aro and Nalyang Tamho Garo Taku, who had caught it in their fishing trap. Having obtained the paddy seeds, Abotani began growing them in field with his wife Ayo Diiyang Diibu. They prospered and became happy. However, this fortune ended when he married Tiini Rungya after divorcing Ayo Diilyang Diibu. The crop yield dwindled quickly while Ayo Diilyang Diibu`s prospered.
After a year the year paddy plants began dying, culminating in a famine. When the situation worsened in the second year, Abo Tani consulted Abo Liibo and Anii Donii who advised him to perform rituals like Chandii, Metii, and Dree by propitiating various gods and goddesses. He appeased "Tamu" God for Destruction of Pests, and "Yapung", the Rain God for protecting them from hailstorm.
From that time onwards, the Apatain Tribe celebrate Dree Festival every year during Dree Piilo, June -July, for goods crops and family and social welfare. Before 1967 when Dree Festival was given a modern outlook by the educated sections of the society led by Lod Kojee, the festival was observed on a suitable date in villages. A senior priest inaugurated the festival and then people took out a procession from Lapang Tribe, a community platform, with chanting of hymns to appease spirits.Taboos-followed performance of various rituals such as Tamu, Metii, and Danyi. During taboos, they conduct social discussions, games, sports, and entertainments.
The cynosure of Dree celebration is the inauguration of the festival by a chief guest, hoisting of Dree flag, rituals and presentation of cultural activities. Cucumber
, symbolizing sacredness of vegetables, is distributed to guests and participants. Games and sports, community feast, and entertainment also form a part of the celebration.