Dree festival is a fertility festival of the Apatani Tribe
in Arunachal Pradesh
state of India. 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. In other words, Dree festival is named after Diiri Piilo, a month in Apatani calendar.
Mythological Aspects of Dree Festival
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
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 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
. 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.
Celebration of Dree Festival in Present Days
The Dree festival is held in such a location of the village which is centrally located in the valley; has easy access of conveyance and has a good play ground with sufficient areas for construction of sheds for huge gathering.
In the evening of fourth July, the Dree priests traditionally inaugurate the Dree festival in their respected villages. In the next day, the festival is officially organised in the common grounds of different villages.
At the time of festival, four altars which mean agyangs are installed. Various deities including Danyi, Tamu, Metii and Harniang are also appeased for different purposes. Various deities are appeased thereby; these are Danyi, Tamu, Metii and Harniang. Danyi is prayed for protecting mankind; Tamu is worshipped for eating up harmful pests and insects; Metii is prayed for control of out break of famine and epidemics and Harniang is worshipped for keeping the soil stable. Some animals
, fowls and eggs are sacrificed during this festival as part of the rituals.
In the earlier days, sports like wrestling
, high jumps
etc. used to take place in the village. In the present days, these activities are organised in larger scale. In addition to games, dance, song, and literary competitions are the other highlights of Dree festival.