Monday, May 5, 2008

Myoko Celebration of Apatani's-A Photo Feature

Ah! This post was long due. I remember promising one of my reader (I guess it was Richo, if I remember well) to do a photo feature on Myoko as soon as it comes to an end on 19th of April, summarizing the event in a chronological order; but for the backlogs at my work, which I had to clear before I could sit on the net to resume my regular blogging. Nevertheless, I guess, it is better late than never..eh! A nice excuse;-). Well, before writing anything farther, let me warn you that this post is rather long. So, if you don’t feel like going through the post, you are always welcome to skip the post and scroll down to the photos of the event that I have posted below..down under..

My Experience of Myoko


Before this Myoko, I was of the opinion, like any other neo-Apatani, that the Myoko celebration is a sheer waste of money and time where ’O’-the local rice beer flowed like water and meat consumed without a limit. However, after having observed the celebration and rituals very closely and being part of the celebration this Myoko, my perception and outlook towards Myoko has totally been transformed. Although, still I feel that there is this huge involvement of money (I had to shell out around 30k for the celebration) and time; I do know now that Myoko is a celebration where you renew your relationships, share camaraderie and pay homage to the ancestors and nature who has given you life and means of sustenance. In fact, to put in other words, Myoko is a celebration which encompasses every fabric of the Apatani society. Well, here I must add that the above outlook on Myoko is mine alone and in no way am I trying to counter those who feels that Myoko is a ‘foolishness’-may be from their point of view they are right.


The other thing that attracted my attention this Myoko was the equal numbers of flags with symbol of 'Sun' fluttering along with the 'Babo's'. It made me wonder, if it is the reflection of people turning towards 'Donyi-Poloism' or Hinduism?



[Babo v/s Flag]

How Myoko Celebration came into being? – A bit of Mythology


As one of the mythology suggests-Abotani, the father of the mankind, by virtue of blessings from the ’supreme power’ had become so powerful that he became menace to everyone right from his brothers Kirii and Kilo to his father-in-law Siiki to other living beings and this growth in power even threatened the existence of ’supreme power’. Lest Abotani eliminated him, the supreme power conspired to eliminate Abotani. So, the supreme power tricked him into climbing a log and suspended him in the air over the log to die.

Dolyang Chanyang’-the first female Nyibu (priest) of Apatani and sister of Abotani couldn’t see her brother suspended to die, requested the supreme power to spare him. After lots of persuasion, the supreme power finally agreed to spare Abotani’s life on the condition that some power given to him, by virtue of which Abotani had become so powerful, be taken back. The mythology suggests that Abotani had three eyes and spikes at his ankle. By virtue of the third eye Abotani could foresee the future and the spikes at his ankle made him very powerful. As the condition for sparing Abotani’s life, the supreme power took back the third eye and the spikes rendering Abotani less powerful. It is said that since then, on the advice of Dolyang Chanyang, Abotani started observing Myoko in order to appease the supreme power.


The other mythology suggests that Abotani, as intelligent and cunning as he was, always out witted his father-in-law Siiki and tried to reign supremacy over his father-in-law, his brothers Kiiri and Kilo, other creatures etc. Tired of Abotani’s supremacy, they conspired to eliminate Abotani of which Dolyang Chanyang came to know about. She suggested Abotani to observe Myoko as a reconciliatory measure and to invite Siiki for the celebration, which being father-in-law, Siiki would not be able to turn down. Since then, it is said that Myoko is being observed by the Apatani’s.

Myoko-A Photo Feature


Prior to the advent of calendars’, people knew it’s time for Myoko celebration when the takung (peach) starts flowering.


[Takung Apu]

Myoko begins 20th of March every year with group of villages taking their turn to observe it and it is declared open with a ritual called Sama Piniing where wooden logs equaling the number of households in a clan are piled up at the residence of yugyang ato i.e., the owner of yugyang-a sacred place.

[Sama]

These logs are used at the ceremonial end of Myoko to roast rice [with or without husk] in a closing ritual called Empii Koniin.

After Sama Piniin ritual, for 3 days guests from non-performing villages are invited for a bout of rice beer and food. At the end of 3rd day, Siiki is invoked in a ritual called Siiro Cheniin or Tapiir Liniin, where tapiir[cane] leaves are put at Nago.



[Priest invoking Siiki]


[Nago]


[Nago with Tapeiir leaves]


[Old man watching Siiro Cheniin]

Siiro Cheniin is followed by a ritual called pigyang huniin, where pigs are sacrificed. Prior to sacrifice, the pigs are brought to yugyang for purification by nyibu (priest) after which it is brought to respective homes for sacrificing. This particular ritual enticed me for this is the ritual where you get chance to get a glimpse of the new brides Nyahii (daughter-in-laws) in a clan, for the brides Nyahii's attired in beautiful traditional dress and ornaments come to yugyang to offer their offerings.



[Bride's Nyahii with their offerings]

Just after this ritual, the next two days are reserved for Buniing Ajing (A friendship relationship passed down from generation to generation), where you invite them and exchange gifts. Thereafter, Danyi tunii ritual-erection of Danyi (Sun) altar at yugyang and lapang (community platform) is performed followed by ude tiniing –purification of house by offering to the deities of the house. When all the houses has been purified, Khelo (nii) ritual is performed which basically signifies bidding adieu to the spirits-the Siiki, Kirii, Kilo, the ancestors etc., This ritual is marked by putting takho around the dwelling place, lapang, babo, yugyang, etc.


[Sho-the lower jaw of pig being lined at Yugyang Ato's house during Khelo (nii) ritual]


[Takho around Nago and Pamung Agyang]

Early the next morning, people go for offering to bamboo groves, clan owned forest, paddy fields etc., and for catching ngilyang ngiyi, after taking of which you can break the restriction on eating of fish during the celebration.

[Ngilyang Ngiiyi]

[The Bamboo Grove]

[The offering]

And finally, the month long celebration came to an end with Empii Koniin, where roasted rice is taken to break all the restrictions on food habits that had been imposed during the Myoko.

25 comments:

  • Arif Siddiqui

    Thanks AG. No doubt it is a very informative and interesting post, a perfect collector's item. Equally, the pics are very unique and rare in nature.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Arif Siddiqui

  • AG

    Thanks Arif for dropping by and for your kind words.

    And yeah..I'm looking forward to your contribution. Hope you would do soon :-)

  • PB

    Hi AG, This post may be "rather long" as you said, but certainly it ranks top in your collection. And I do agree with Arif, some of your pictures are also unique. Congratulations !

  • AG

    Hi PB,
    Nice to hear from you again. Am glad that this long post didn't bored you:-)and thanks for putting this particular post high in the 'ranking' among the collections of AD. Thanks again.

  • yasiyalow

    Hi AG!
    Splendid work. Meticulous and sincere to the point of being at fault. The essence and substance of Myoko have been captured at its best.
    However, entering into deeper side of middle age , I am developing unsavoury habit of throwing my opinions at my juniors. In this instance, let me opine by stating that instead of saying brides, you should call the ladies as daughter in laws( Nyahii) of respective clans. Bride denotes those ladies who are about to get married or are just married.
    However in the case of Myoko Supung, its not only Brides i.e is newly married but all those women who have placed sacrificial pigs that comes to yugyang to perform rituals of spraying and distributing yatang (rice powder) and O (Rice beer). One witnesses grand mothers along with just married ladies during this occasion of supung.
    What people look forward to on this propitious morning is how many new daughters in law (Nyahii) of clans have joined their clan in past three years. Thus, sum and substance of occasion is how rich the clan is in Nyahiis. This is also the time when nyahii akh's show and teach nyahii ajangs about the responsilities of clan nyahiis. Remember, Myoko comes every third year for each group of Apatani villages.

  • AG

    Hi Yasiyalow,

    Ooops…better word didn't struck my mind than 'bride' while doing this post past midnight, even though I tried hard to prod my mind for another alternative. May be drowsiness took over my mind… Well, I should thank you here for suggesting me the more appropriate word and you might have noticed that I've made corrections in the post. Also thanks for elaborating on 'alyi supung' ritual which I couldn't do in my post.

    Looking forward to more suggestions and corrections in future posts also.

  • wiian

    I enjoyed every bit of this Myoko special feaure and need I say, wonderful set of pictures (I can't boast of one nice photo even after clicking some 100 odd pics during the festival).

  • NPR

    @AG,
    I should rank this post as one of the best post ever seen in this blog.Photos are fabulous,well done!!! Got to learn more details about Myoko.

  • AG

    @wiian,
    On the contrary, I quite liked your snaps of the Kardo trip that you embarked during your myoko break...and you say you don't have even a single nice snap to boast of..

    @NPR,
    Thanks for ranking this particular post as best ever post on this blog..:)

  • yasiyalow

    Hi AG... Let me be that obnoxious self again. OK..... Well, I think it should be called "Myoko supung" instead of " Alyi Supung". It sounds too coarse and raw to call it "Alyi Supung." All the ceremonial supungs are called by their ritual name rather than the name of sacrificial animal.Supung isa term given to the ceremonial ritual of rubbing/spraying rice powder along with "alaa oh"(pure rice wine) of animals, trees and chick4ens at times. It may be Myoko Supung, Murrung supung, subu supung, soo myoro and other tiigoo poojas. And if I remember correctly, during Myoko supung, Myoko takum is also rubbed with rice powder and rice beer.
    Remember, the sacrificial ritual are divided into tiigo and gyunyang uyi.

  • AG

    @Yasiyalow,

    Ooops!.... I did it again. I stand corrected. Alyi.. o.k. *delete* Alyi *delete* sounds quite coarse and raw...but…Hey!... Are you sure if it should be Myoko Supung?

    It is agreed that Supung is a generic term given for the act of spraying or smearing of rice powder alongwith 'O' ala during ceremonies/rituals; but as far as I remember, if I am not mistaken, the name of the animal or the altars etc., is prefixed while referring to that particular act to distinguish one from the other and not the ritual itself. For eg. Subu Supung kendo, Alyi Supung kendo, Danyi agyang mi yatang nekindo etc..etc. Again you don't say tiigo supung kendo or ude yugyang supung kendo. But then, I may be wrong-do correct me.

    And yes you are absolutely right. The takum tree is also smeared with yatang during the ritual (see the snap of nyahii smearing yatang to takum tree above in the post).

  • occahugs

    Hi!AG

    It feels great to know mythological fact as well as motive behind Myoko celebrations. Thanks to you for lovely pictures,valuable informations & making me feel connected to my place.

    I do consider Myoko celebration is not at all waste rather a gained as this gives us immences opportunities to unite with our family, friends & off cource gives us changes to pay homage & rememberance to our ancestors. Though you spend a little but inturn you earn a lots.

    Looking forward to know more about Arunachal, latest happening.

    Good Job, keep it up.

  • yasiyalow

    Actually my comments are based on vague memories of my childhood and common conversation I come across.

    In this instance, we keep hearing about conversation like how many nyahiis did myoko supung or have you seen myoko supung or in apatani...ronney myoko supung toku..so on and so far.
    And then there is a difference betweem murung supung and subu supung. Both are names of ceremony although in both cases subu (mithun) is sprayed/rubbed with rice powder.

    Gyunya uuyi is to propitiate malignant spirits and tiigo uyii is benign spirit. Most of the cases, where "supung" ceremony is performed it is called "tiigo" uyi.

  • AG

    @occahugs,

    Nice to see you commenting here. I am glad that AD has made you feel connected to your place. And sure do I try to let you keep abreast with the latest happenings of Arunachal.

    Thanks for all the compliments...hugs..:-)

    @Yasiyalow,

    Just as yours, my earlier arguments were based on the memories of the conversation that we hear commonly...that's why I said I may be wrong. Nevertheless, thanks for making the things clearer and for equipping me with new information.

  • NPR

    @AG and Yasiyalow,
    Is this alyi supung and pigyang huniing a same ritual or is it different???

  • AG

    NPR,
    What I have found during this Myoko is that during pigyang huniing ritual spraying or smearing of yatang (supung) to alyi and takung tree takes place at yugyang. So, as far as my understanding goes, both are one and the same where alyi supung nii is a part of pigyang huniing ritual.

  • Anonymous

    What great post. Splendid job. R Apatani NGOs(ACLS) watching this blog. They should be launching dedicated website.

  • AG

    Thanks anonymous whoever you are.

    It was decided by ACLS during their last conference that they would be putting up their dedicated website but I guess it hasn't come up yet...and I do hope that they would do it in near future...Hey! I remembered, wasn't there a case of mass resignation of ACLS members on account of AYA-August & AYA-September?:) In that case, I fear if we would be seeing dedicated ACLS website soon.:(

  • HY

    Splendid work indeed. What's ACLS, by the way?

  • AG

    Thanks HY.

    ACLS=Apatani Cultural & Literary Society

  • Anonymous

    Hello Team,

    Being an Apatani in particular and an Arunachalee in general, I strongly feel that the articles included in this informative column is a very good one and informative as well. I am not saying that it lacks anything but still I hope that some more informations if added will improve its worthiness.


    Tasso Tada,
    Bangalore.

  • AG

    Hi Tada,
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Sure AD would try to act upon your suggestion and try to provide you with quality information.

    Do keep commenting as suggestions like yours keeps us going.

    Regards,
    AG

  • Anonymous

    MYOKO being only socio-religious festival of the true Tanii,is full-swing in HICHI belt of Tanii-Ganda(Apatani plateau).Me felt as a true Tanii in the sense neither am converted Danyi-Piillo or any other religions, like many Tanii brethrens do, for good or bad.
    Unlike,last MYOKO, I have observed more 'BABO' than flags.It sense, more true Tanii people this year in the host village.I wish all the Tanii bretherens to follow back our ABBA-APPA(ancestrol cultures),leaving all the aliens cultures, so as to redefined MYOKO as revival of Tanii socio-religious activities.

  • Taba Ajum

    It's a informative write up..good work done..More such initiative are needed to be done to promote our rich Arunachalee cultures and traditions. Rest of the world should know that other than being in news for controversy on Indo-China border issue, there are innumerable of things to look out in Arunachal..a la wonderland...Cheers.

    Taba Ajum
    New Delhi

  • AG

    Thanks for the visit Ajum.

    Do keep visiting and keep on commenting.

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