Festivals of Northeast

Tam Ladu Festival
Tamladu Festival is one of the oldest and main festivals of the Digaru Mishmis in the Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh. The Digaru Mishmis are one of the oldest tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that still hold on to their conventional tradition and beliefs. These tribes mainly depend on the agriculture and harvest and that make them to worship Nature.

According to the beliefs of the tribe, nature only prevents them from nature’s fury. So they worship the nature gods during Tamladu festival. Hence, the main aim of the festival is to protect their village and people from any natural disaster. Lord Jebmalu is also worshipped during Tamladu festival for the welfare of the domestic animals, people and the newly planted crops.

It is celebrated on 15th February with traditional fervour and gaiety where people from all walks of life participate with great enthusiasm. The terms ‘Tamla’ mean enclosure and ‘Du’ means a ritual. Hence, Tamla-du refers to a ritual performed in an enclosure around a house or a particular village. During this festival, the Digaru Mishmi tribe offer prayers to the God of Water and God of Earth in order to save the village from natural calamities. Tanggong dance is usually performed at the time of festival. In this dance, all the participants converge to form a bee queue thudding all around the corridor.

The festival of Tamladu comes as sources of relief to the people as it eases off hangovers of daily labour and anxieties of life. Tamladu festival is worth participating as it provides one an opportunity to know about the tribal people and observe their beliefs and custom.

The month of February every year is the time for celebrating Nyokum or the worship of goddess of crops and other Gods and Goddess. It is the festival of the Nyishi tribe and is celebrated in East Kemang district, Lower Subansiri district, Kurung Kummey district and Papumpar district for the harmony and prosperity of the people. The term Nyokum has been derived from the combination of two words of the native dialect- Nyok means Land (earth) and Kum means People (collectiveness or togetherness). Therefore, the Nyokum festival may very well be interpreted as inviting all the Gods and Goddesses of the universe, with the Nyokum Goddess as the principal deity, to a particular venue at a particular time.

The festival has a close link with cultivation. The Nyokum pray to goddess, the goddess of prosperity for her blessings so that there may be more and more production of food-grains in the next harvesting season, that the visit of famine may be warded off, and that drought or flood may not hamper cultivation, nor should any insect or animal destroy plants and crops. They also pray to the Goddess so that the human race may be strengthened and regenerated. All should be free from unnatural death due to accident, war and epidemic.

Nyishi tribe don’t put idol in the worship instead they use bamboo pole as a prayer structure. The main prayer structure of the Nyishi is made of bamboo, called the yugang. They keep sacrificial animals alongside Yugang. They use cows, goats and mithuns as sacrificial animals. They often hang chicken on the bamboo pole which is called Yugang. Head priest or traditional priest is called nyubh in Nyishi tribe specifies the number and kinds of animal for sacrifice, or any other offering to be made. People don’t use any permanent structure for worshipping instead they use millet seed’s beer and rice paste.

They celebrate the festival in traditional way with cheer and merriment. They wear their conventional costumes and knick-knacks. The men wear traditional cotton robs which is called eri robe. The eri robe drapes oneself from the shoulder to the thighs. They decorate their necks with beaded colorful necklaces and they use semi precious stones like Turquoise sometimes. They complete their attire by wearing a cap prepared from bamboo and they decorate the cap by feathers and furs of wild animals. Their favorite ornament is the beak of Hornbill so they stud it on the traditional cap. Women also dress in the traditional costume named par ej. Women wear ornaments like beaded necklaces, earrings and headgear made from finely scraped bamboos.

There is singing and dancing before the head priest or nyubh comes with his attendants to perform the main ritual. Guests are welcomed with rice paste powder, and opo or millet seed beer which is scooped in dried gourd ladles. The song and dances are performed in a group. Usually men and women hold hands in a circular form and sing and dance these lines Nyokum bo tapa debe

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