(Last Updated on : 11/02/2013)
Festivals of West Kameng district generally means numerous colourful and joyous celebrations by the people residing in this place. The chief tribal groups of this district of Arunachal Pradesh are Aka tribes, Monpa tribe, Sajolang tribe, Sherdukpen tribe and Bugun tribe. Each tribe has a number of festivals and their indigenous ways of celebrations. Each and every festival is celebrated with complete devotion and enthusiasm by the people.
Aka tribes perform a number of religious ceremonies both individually and communally. Their only community festival is known as the Nechidow, which is celebrated once annually in the Aka month of Rigiev matching to English month of November. The celebration of this festival lasts for four days and is mainly performed for a good harvest. The Nechidow celebration involves a number of rituals and worships performed by the village priest (Mugou) in the name of different gods and goddesses by offering oblations and sacrificing various animals. The actual performance of the festival lasts for two days and the remaining two days are observed as taboo, when the Akas desist from doing any work. Community feasts are arranged every day after the day's ritual where both males and females enthusiastically take part in cooking followed by songs and dance.
Of the many celebrations of the Bugun tribe, the Kshyat-Sowai is the only festival, which is observed on community basis. This festival is celebrated village wise annually and usually in the third week of December and the festival lasts for ten continuous days. In each Bugun village there is a particular place called "Sraiba" for celebration of Kshyat-Sowai festival. A local priest called "Phavi", sacrifice of fowls, offering of rice, maize, beer arum etc. to the god and goddesses, arrangement of feasts, singing of mythical songs and chanting prayers, observes the festival days with the performance of many rituals. On the concluding day all the people of the village go to 'Sraiba' and have a grand feast there which is known as Thaplam. Beside the Kshyat-Sowai, a number of other festivals are celebrated individually by the Buguns sacrificing a big number of domestic birds and animals at different times and occasions with a view to appeasing various evil spirits of the locality for the welfare of the villagers
Lossar and Choskar Festival
Festivals form an indispensable aspect of the socio- religious life of the people belonging to the Monpa tribal group. Lossar and Choskar are their major religious festivals of the Monpas. Lossar symbolizes the dawn of a new year and to bid farewell to the preceding year. It is observed from the first day of the New Year (as per the Buddhist lunar calendar) up to the fifteenth day that is up to the full Moon day. Its celebrations include merry making and dancing. Choskar festival is performed after the sowing of maize and is manly meant for good harvest. Choskar festival is also performed after the sowing of paddy and before harvesting of crops as well. Besides these two major festivals, there are many other minor festivals celebrated by the Monpas.
The Miji Tribe celebrate two important chief festivals on community as well as village level basis. Among these two, the Chindang festival has assumed the most important place among the people belonging to Miji community especially of Nafra circle of West Kameng District of the state of Arunachal Pradesh means offering sacrifices. Thus, during the Chindang festival besides chanting hymns, various offerings including sacrifices of animals and birds are offered to Almighty God and Goddesses like Jang_lang-nui and other like Sun (Zoh), Moon (Lyuh), Mountain (Phung) and River (Wu) and deities like Khanih, Gonih, Khang-wo-myangro, and other ancestral deities.
Chindang festival is usually celebrated in the month of October every year. A yak or bull, a pig and fowls are offered as sacrifices to various deities to have their blessings, to prevent evil spirits from entering the villages, to protect the crops from wild animals, pests and insects, to have better harvest and to protect the community from terrible diseases. Interestingly, the actual celebration of the festival is preceded by the grand social service for clearing the roads, footpaths and sources of drinking water.
Another important festival of the Mijis is the Khan festival. Earlier, the Khan was considered as the most important festival of the Mijis and was being celebrated by the community as a whole but recently it has lost its prior importance. During the festival besides merry-making people perform sacrificial rites and offer prayers to gods and goddesses for plentiful harvest in the next harvesting season. The Khan festival is called Khan-Gailam and is celebrated by individual families, particularly by the rich families. In course of the celebration of the Khan festival, rituals are performed for increase in the cattle wealth, to ward off evil spirits causing massive misfortune and to have prosperity.
Lastly, the Sherdukpen Tribe observe a number of festivals both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. The major Buddhist festival of the Sherdukpens tribe is Wang, while Khiksaba is a non-Buddhist festival which is meant to appease the forest deities. The Wang is observed by the Sherdukpens for two times in a year in the month of June and July or November in honour of Lord Buddha.
The Khiksaba festival is observed in either November or December and this festival ensures that the forest spirits will not attack the people on their long trek through the jungles to reach the plains. Feasting and drinking, sacrifice of goats and fowls and offerings of rice, flowers, fruits etc. are the important events of Khiksaba festival. Apart from these festivals the Sherdukpens also celebrate several other festivals like Rek Lapsang Chhongba (agricultural festival), Photenya, Chekor festival etc.
Thus, it can be said that every tribe of West Kameng District celebrate one or other festival relating to nature, religion etc. These festivals of West Kameng District reflect the diversified customs and traditions of the tribal inhabitants.