Dree, as we know today, is an agricultural festival of the Apatanis’ celebrated every year on 5th of July commonly by all villages of Apatani Plateau at a common ground since 1967. Dree-is the time for merry making, for the initial phase of agricultural cycle i.e., preparation of fields and transplantation of rice sapling from nurseries to the fields is over, and the sapling has turned lush green. It’s time to pray for healthy food crop everywhere for rich harvest and a world free from hunger and disease. But, little do we know about the mythology associated with the celebration of Dree by the Apatanis. One of the myths, among so many others, goes thus-
Abotani-the father of mankind, was happily married to Ayo Dilyang Diibyu and as the saying goes ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’, Abotani was successful and prosperous by virtue of able guidance of his wife Ayo Dilyang Diibyu. However, his prosperity wouldn’t remain so for long as he fell for Tini Rungya, who was after his wealth. Tini Rungya being crooked lady, made Abotani to divorce Ayo Dilyang Diibyu and marry her. Abotani, blindly fallen for Tini Rungya, spent his wealth leisurely on her and time came when he wasn’t left with even a grain of rice. Now the realization dawn upon Abotani that it was because of able management of his former wife Ayo Dilyang Diibyu that he was prosperous and successful and it was because of wicked Tini Rungya that he lost all his wealth. This realization made him drove away Tini Rungya and he tried to convince Ayo Dilyang Diibyu to return back to him. When Ayo Dilyang Diibyu did not agreed, Abotani requested to give at least some grains of paddy so that he may start cultivating paddy. But, Ayo Dilyang Diibyu refused.
Seeing no other option, he devised an idea to steal some grain from Ayo Dilyang Diibyu. When one fine sunny day, Ayo Dilyang Diibyu was drying her paddy on a Piiping (mat), Abotani asked his dog to go over to Ayo Dilyang Diibyu and roll over the paddy dried on Piiping and come back running to him. The obedient dog did as it was told but before it could go back running to Abotani, Aya Dilyang Diibyu caught the dog and cleansed off every bit of paddy grain stuck to the body of the dog before letting the dog go.
Finding his dog returning without a grain of paddy, Abotani was disappointed. However, on careful inspection, he found two grains in each of the ear of the dog. He had succeeded in his plan.
With these two grains, Abotani started afresh the paddy cultivation. However, the pests and insects and nature destroyed the plants resulting in very less produce and famine ensued. The next year also, the situation remained the same. This made Abotani to consult the God of Agriculture, Abo Liibo and Ane Donyi. The Agricultural God advised Abotani to perform series of rites for well being of the crops.
Following the advice of Agricultural God, he performed Chandii in the month of February/March when the soil was being prepared for cultivation. Kiidi (mother earth) and Miido (the sky) was propitiated for fertility of soil and for favourable climate throughout the season.
When paddy seedling started germinating, to protect the mankind from Pyodu Biinyi (Famine God), Metii was performed. And finally, when the saplings were transplanted from nurseries to the field, Dree was performed to protect the plants from pests and insects. It was supplemented by Tamu rite for destroying the pests and insects/worms inside the soil and Yapung rite to appease the Rain God, not to shower thunder or hailstorm to damage the crops.
Performing the above rites, Abotani had a bumper yield that year and since then these rites have been performed.
Dree, thus, is a festival, a ritual observed by the Apatanis' for a rich harvest. So come, let's celebrate Dree for rich harvest.