Arunachal Pradesh is a land of tribal communities. Due to the number of tribes in the state, the cultural diversification and richness of Arunachal Pradesh is insane. Folk dances are a great way to showcase one’s culture. The people of Arunachal Pradesh have immense love for dancing and are well known for their cheerful nature. Folk dances performed on festive occasions and happy times portray the emotions and gratitude of the people. Folk dances represent the socio-cultural heritage and robust value system of the state’s tribal lineages.
Classification of Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh
The folk dances of Arunachal Pradesh can be divided into four distinct types, each naturally performed for various purposes. Here are the details :
- Festive dance performances are mainly celebratory folk dances performed on specific occasions.
- Ritual dance is a style of traditional dance performed with zeal in Arunachal Pradesh and based on particular ceremonies.
3, Recreational dancing is something people do in their spare time. These dances are not part of any ceremony or festival, but are performed on special occasions to create a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.
- Pantomimes are a type of dance drama that depicts a mythical narrative with a message.
1. Ponung Dance
Ponung dance is a prominent and widely practiced traditional art form in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the traditional folk dance of the Adis community, which is distinguished by its rich cultural lifestyle. Thanks to this Ponung, which is a dynamic dance accompanied by spellbinding tunes, the hamlet of Adi and its native inhabitants have risen to prominence. It is shown at the festival which takes place before the harvest. This dance is performed only on auspicious and important occasions. The show attracts a large number of visitors from all over the country. Ponung is a dance reserved for women that is practiced in groups. Young married women, as well as young girls, can perform it. A Miri, a guy skilled in mythological songs about the origins of rice and other cultures, leads the dance show. The females form a circle and dance in it, holding each other.
The dancers wear ethnic clothing, which adds color to their performance. The outfit mainly consists of a long skirt and a kurti. The basic colors used in the design of the skirt and the Kurti are black, red and blue. They also wear traditional heavy jewelry such as a necklace and an earring. Their hair is neatly tied in a bun. On rare occasions, competitors wear ethnic headgear.
2. Daminda Dance
The women of each family offer a container of rice beer produced traditionally at home to their elder brother, sister, son-in-law, guest, etc. on Dree’s joyful occasion as a token of love and affection. The receiver, in turn, presents them with a slice of bacon or roast meat. Dance and music tunes play an important role in festivals and other happy occasions. In fact, the Apatani tribes perform a variety of traditional dances including Daminda and Pakhu Ittu which are very popular. ‘Daminda’, the tribe’s most popular traditional and folk song, is linked to the Dree celebration and is sung by the women and children of the community. Daminda is a traditional song that describes the magnificence of the ancient Apatanis.
3. Wancho Dance
Among the Wancho tribesmen, the Ozele celebration is immensely popular. It is traditionally observed in the months of February and March. It is observed following the sowing of millets. Between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., the dance usually takes place in the residence of the village chief. Men of various ages, as well as young married women, participate in the dance. The male dancers perform the dance first, followed by the female dancers once the guys have left the stage. During the performance, male dancers hold swords in their right hands. From the waist up, a cane basket drapes over the dancers’ buttocks. The male dancers use white or blue loincloths, while the female dancers wear brightly colored loincloths.
4. The Idu Mishmi ritual dance
The fertility dance and the ritual dance are performed by the Idu Mishmi people of Arunachal Pradesh. On the last day of the Rren ritual, the fertility dance is performed frequently. The Mesalah, Rren, Ai-him and Ai-ah rites are presided over by the priest and the priestesses. Drums are usually heard accompanying the dances.
The priests are dressed in loincloths, short-sleeved jackets, pearl necklaces, a leather bag slung over the right shoulder, a sword, headbands studded with cowries, necklaces studded with tiger teeth and a few metal bells. Mishmi skirts, beaded necklaces and short-sleeved garments are worn by the priestess. The dance is often accompanied by bugles and drums.
The dance is performed alternately by the priest and the priestess. During the show, there are several dance moves you can choose from. The dancers are chosen from the audience, in addition to the priest and priestess.
5. Digaru Mishmi Buiya Dance
Buiya and Nuiya are two types of dance performed by the Digaru Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Nuiya is a ceremonial dance, while Buiya is an entertaining dance.
The Buiya dance is practiced during Tazampu, Duiya and Tanuya, among other occasions. The aforementioned festivals are generally held for the health and prosperity of the community. Male dancers are usually dressed in loincloths, sleeveless jackets, turbans and earrings. Long skirts, blouses and side purses are worn by female performers. The dancers form a line in a passage, one behind the other. One of the dancers is a drummer, while the other is a gong player. Depending on availability, another dancer may also play cymbals. The dancers make many movements on these rhythms. They take a step forward with their right foot, then gently bring their left foot back to the heel of their left foot while bending their knees as before. The dance is repeated until it reaches the bottom of the passage repeating this series of movements. As a result, they dance in the hallway of the house. Dancers can sing solo or in chorus when singing a song. During this time there is usually no movement.
6. Khampti dance
The Kamptis, who are Buddhists, lead a variety of dance performances depicting historical traditions and legendary tales. On the occasion of Khamsang, Sankian and Potwah, these dance pieces are commonly performed. They illustrate the entertainment component of the festival. The villagers send out invitations to the theatrical evening of the show. Dance-drama rehearsals start about a month before the festival and usually take place at a monastery or any other venue of their choosing. The drama is then performed in the front yard or any suitable open place near the dwellings. This dance is accompanied by musical instruments such as gogs and cymbals. Women are rarely seen in theatrical performances, so men dressed in women’s clothes fill the female roles. After the performances, the party receives a monetary reward. They use this money to buy the costumes and masks that are used in the dramas. If there are surpluses, they are shared by all theater participants.
7. Rikhampada Dance
The Rikhampada folk dance is one of the liveliest and most glorified folk dances in the state. The parent tribes of this dance are the famous Nyishi tribes who belong to Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh. The largest tribe in the state, the Nyishi tribe, performs this dance during the famous Nyokum festival. The story of the origin of the Rikhampada dance suggests that the Abotanis introduced this dance to the Nyishi tribes.
8. Ka Fifai Dance-Drama
The Ka Fifai is also a dance drama that depicts the abduction of a man’s daughter by spirits while wandering in the garden. The drama goes on to depict how the king’s ministers plot and achieve the maiden’s rescue out of the spirits’ grasp.
9. Sadinuktso (Akas)
The Sadinuktso dance is extremely famous among the Aka tribes. It is practiced practically every time the tribe gathers. It is particularly common at weddings or when building a new house. A group of guys and girls perform the dance individually. The main dance is performed alternately by one member of each group until all dancers have finished.
Arunachal Pradesh is the ideal destination for those seeking rejuvenation and tranquility in the Himalayas. Besides its magnificent natural beauty, the rich and distinct culture of this land is what makes it absolutely stunning. Arunachal Pradesh is a proud state of India that still retains its traditional culture and customs in today’s increasingly westernized world. The people of Arunachal Pradesh rely heavily on dance and music in their daily lives. It’s amazing how the traditional dances of Arunachal Pradesh have continued to progress.