Category Archives: Apatani Society

Dree Football 2008 Finals scheduled today..

Spain beat Germany by 1 goal to nil to clinch the EURO-2008 title. We too could have had the Dree Football Tournament 2008 winner yesterday but for the interview for post in Police Department.

You may ask what’s the connection with Dree Football Tournament Finals and the interview?

Well, it seems majority of the players who were to play the finals yesterday had applied for that interview and as such the Dree Football Committee considering their career, rescheduled the finals today. The match will be played at 1200 hrs.

Watch out this space for updates on the match.

Dree Football Tournament 2008

AHSA and DSC-A enters final

Despite having decided to cover the Dree Football Tournament 2008 right from the beginning and update about it in the blog, I couldn’t do so. The reason being I came to know about it rather quite late when the tournament was in the midst. Unlike preceding years, perhaps because of ‘Panchayat Polls’ and counting of votes thereafter, this years Dree Football Tournament was not publicized as it were done earlier. Or, may be the Dree Sports Secretary had publicized but I failed to notice it as I was engrossed in Euro 2008. But when I came to know about it, I could have started covering it but for the disruption in broadband connection owing to the landslide due to June 14th torrential rain which cut-off Ziro from rest of the world (more on this in some other post) and still it has not been restored.

This year the total participating teams were the same as that of the last year tournament. However, this tournament saw very interesting ups and downs with ‘Hot Favorites’ being knocked out of the tournament and the ‘underdogs’ making it to the finals.

League Match between HSC and Siiro Sports Club

In the first semi-finals on 25th June, the ‘underdogs’ AHSA drubbed the defending champions HSC by 1-0 while in second semi-finals played on 26th of June, DSC-A beat SLSC by 1-0 to enter the finals. The final would be played on 29th of June.

During the second semi-finals, a tragedy struck. The overcharged crowd, in a zeal to support their teams had climbed up the CGI terrace of nearby building but the CGI terrace collapsed under the weight of 100’s of supporters injuring one seriously and score others with minor injuries.

Going by the performance of AHSA during last year tournament, never in my wilderness I thought that it would reach finals. But this tournament, it was smooth sailing for the team who didn’t even lost a single match till the finals. They even beat their opponent in the finals during the league match. So going by their performance this tournament, my bet is on AHSA.

‘The underdogs’-AHSA team warming up

Update: Below is the building that caved in due to the weight of overcharged crowd (the debris had been removed when I took the snap)

Panchayati Raj Election results out-INC sweeps major ZPM seats at Apatani Plateau

Seems like people has mastered the art of prediction of election results; well, atleast in the Apatani Plateau. Based on the peoples prediction of results, I had predicted earlier who will win the ZPM seats from the 6 constituencies, and the final results are not that different. Out of 6 ZPM seats, 4 were bagged by INC and 1 each by NCP and independent candidate. The results are:

1. Hari: Smt. Hage Yassung (INC)
2. Hija: Smt. Nada Dumi (INC)
3. Kalung-Reru: Nani Tani (NCP)
4. Diibo: Bamin Siri (Independent)
5. Hong: Tilling Doley (INC)
6. Hong: Hibu Uma (INC)

Now, it is to be seen if these elected representatives live upto the expectation of people who has voted them and how much development they would bring in the ‘grass root’ levels as was promised during their campaigning.

PRI Election Results Update (9:45 PM): (Based on Local Media reports) (ZPM Berth only)

1.Papum Pare

  • Doimukh: Tana Bado (INC)
  • Upper Balijan: Nabam Chukia (INC)
  • Lower Balijan: Kabak Takam (NCP)
  • Taraso: Nabam Eka (INC)
  • Mengio: Nabam Bate (Ind)
  • Kimin: Bamang Yayu (INC)-won earlier uncontested
  • Results for Borum, Sagalee, Leporiang and Toru awaited

2.West Siang

  • Liromoba: Toi Romin (INC)
  • Yomcha: Jarsa Gamlin (INC)
  • Darak: Badam Boje (INC)
  • Kamba: Yali Karbak (INC)
  • Along East Upper: Link Lollen (INC)
  • Along East Lower: Jomkir Naso (INC)
  • Tirbin: Gokar Lombi (INC)
  • Gensi: Taken Mara (INC)
  • Payum: Taken Yasing (INC)
  • Basar:Kenmar Basar (RJD)
  • Daring: B. Jirdo (Ind)

A summary of the international conference on “Origins and Migrations Among Tibeto-Burman Speakers of the Extended Eastern Himalaya”

-by Rebecca Gnuechtel

From the 23rd to the 25th May 2008 some 30 scholars gathered in Berlin, Germany for an international conference on “Origins and Migrations Among Tibeto-Burman Speakers of the Extended Eastern Himalaya”, which was organized by Prof. Toni Huber of the Humboldt University, Institute for Asian and African Studies and Prof. Stuart Blackburn of SOAS, London University. The scholars covered areas such as eastern Nepal, Yunnan Province in Southwest China, Burma, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Particularly for those international scholars working on Arunachal it was the most amazing setting of having the few people working on this remote area gathered in one place. Many met each other for the first time in person.

Prof. Stuart Blackburn from the University of London delivered a lecture on Apatani Ideas and Idioms of Origins. He pointed out that their thinking on origin is dominated by concepts of genealogy and cosmogony rather than geography saying that: “Apatanis really do not think of themselves primarily as migrants from another place but rather as descendents of a particular ancestor [Abo Tani].” The central concept in doing so however is that of the process of differentiation from formlessness to the formation of the natural as well as the social world.

Professor Toni Huber from Humboldt University in Berlin spoke about his fieldwork data on “Micro-Migrations and Our Understanding of Origins: A Case Study from the Upper Subansiri Region of the Eastern Himalaya”. “How do people actually move?” Toni Huber tries to give some answer to this question for a particular area of the Upper Subansiri River valley and a particular time, the 20th century. What he shows by means of historical records and personal interviews of a large number of local people is that whenever people move for reasons such as conflicts or bamboo flowering they also interact with the people they come in contact with and even take wives from there. Adding to that some clans are explicitly exogamous and marry outside their own community. Consequently there is a high mix of people. However he also shows something else very interesting. Those movements are not just downwards along the rivers but also upwards depending on the particular cause for migrations as well as the direction from which the jeopardy comes. Consequently the very widespread belief of a unidirectional migration from Tibet to the South might prove to be much more complicated.

Further, Dr. Alex Aisher from the University of Sussex, England spoke about “Migration Narratives and the Environmental History of the Nyishi Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh” and Mark Post from La Trobe University, Australia gave a presentation on “The Language, Culture, Environment and Origins of Proto-Tani Speakers”. From the Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh Dr. Sarit Chaudhuri delivered a lecture on “Oral Narratives of Origin and Migration and Construction of Identities by the Tibeto-Burman Tribes of a Frontier state of India”. Kerstin Grothmann from Humboldt University reported about her recent fieldwork as did Atsuko Ibata a Japanese student from Delhi University, both are working on societies in central Arunachal Pradesh.

The author is MA student, Department of Anthropology at Heidelberg University, Germany

Arunachal Pradesh goes into PRI polls

The people of Arunachal Pradesh today exercised their franchise to elect 2469 Gram Panchayat Members, 992 Anchal Samiti members and 128 Zilla Parishad Members from total of 7423, 1779 and 161 GPM’s, ASM’s and ZPM’s berths in the state respectively. The remaining berths were earlier filled up, uncontested. Out of the sixteen districts in Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang became the lone District where all the ZPM seats were filled uncontested. For details, see the image below.

Like rest of the state, denizens of the Apatani plateau too exercised their franchise today to elect 6 ZPM’s from out of 7 ZPM’s seats. One ZPM berth went to Rubu Hangu, unopposed from Tajang Anchal Samiti Constituency. For remaining 6 constituencies viz., Diibo Anchal Samiti Constituency, Hari Anchal Samiti Constituency, Kalung-Reru Anchal Samiti Constituency, Hija Anchal Samiti Constituency, Hong -Nitii AS Constituency and Hong-Niichi AS Constituency, 14 persons vied for the seat.

[People at Hari Constituency queuing up to cast their votes]

From Diibo constituency, Michi Shalla and Bamin Siri contested for the ZPM seat. Hage Tara Asha and Hage Shalla Yassung and Dani Yami and Nada Dumi contested for Hari constituency and Hija Constituency respectively, where ZPM seats were reserved for women this term. Kalung-Reru constituency ZPM seat was contested between Subu Kojee, Nani Tani, Subu Lento and Kuru Tai whereas Hong Nichii and Niiti constituency was contested between Punyo Kathe and Hibu Uma and between Tilling Dolley and Tilling Tadii respectively.

The counting of the votes polled would be done on June 2nd.

Update 29-05-2008: The three-tier Panchayati Raj election in the state was by and large peaceful with 15 polling stations registering 100% polling, overall 83% turnout of the electors and only 10 polling stations going for re-poll.

Myoko-A Perspective

-by Roto Chobin

Being an essential festival of Apatani community, the Myoko is perhaps one of the most protracted and intricate festival in the world, wherein entire Apatanis take some part in the festivities while the substantial role are played by the host of Myoko, and which induce one to question and contemplate, extol and assess its significance relating to the present day.

The preparation for Myoko begins as early as November – starting with hunting of bi ding (monkey). And the activities goes on until the Empii Koniin ceremony is performed to signify the end of the festival where the priest give a final offering of roasted ‘eared rice’ to deity near the doorstep of both front and backdoor, and which usually happen in the second week of April month. From the groundwork to the end of the Myoko festival, it takes almost six months.

Another aspect of Myoko is that it comprises of so many complex rituals that makes it awfully intricate and very difficult to practice it. For instance, a person who goes out to hunt biding need to take a particular care when shooting a monkey because … not to sacrifice a biding of particular species would be sacrilegious to Siiki. At the time of Siiro Cheniin, every male member has to put up a twig of cane leaves at Nago (shrine). With cane becoming rare, you never know when the ritual will become nullified. And Pigyan Huniin ceremony tests the degree of one’s physical strength and endurance – seizing of pigs and swine from pigsty, taking it to Yugyang (altar) and bringing it back to a house for sacrifice. Subsequently, the swine are killed and delicately prepared to be given away to uncles and great uncles. And preparation or to be precise separation of chest from bacon requires a hand of high skill because recipient may turn down the offer to accept it if found any slip-up. Phew! One of the nasty part is when we grab the swine by its leg so that it could stay still whilst the eldest male member of a clan is plucking off the heart and when we clean down the coating of hair from swine by burning and scraping out the hair with steel tumbler as soon as it is taken down from a bonfire.

Throughout the ceremonial processes of Myoko, loads of unfamiliar things (no doubt, it may be relatively recognizable for some but for inexperience individual it could be a headache) like Sama Anii, Kiira Anii (leaves) et al are used to make Agyang (altar). Moreover, to make things such as byodung, chukha, roobing, etc. to adorn the Agyang calls for great dexterity and fortitude. Furthermore, to look bluntly at Babo (ritual pole) may not seem that it involves effort in any way. On the contrary, it stipulates teamwork as each clan has to select a high and straight tree for babo that are fell and brought at the village by dragging, then erecting it. In a way, it does seem futile to fell a huge tree and erecting it seeing that boha behniin (acrobatic feats) is no longer perform on it and also that huge babo can give away to undersized and manageable babo without being blasphemous to custom. Paradoxically, activities are going in opposite direction.

O Tante La, in fact this is the occasion when guests usually visit the house of the Myoko host and the guests are served with O (rice beer), Tapyo (black salt) and Kaji (meat). In compliance with other ritual this occasion continues for a period of two and a half days – beginning just after Sama Piniin (first day) till Taper Liila Siiro Cheniin (third day of Myoko) – which seem fair enough. But rules are rules, made to be bent and broken. Thus, nowadays, the host could still be seen throwing a Myoko party till the wee hours even after the Pigyan Huniin ceremony was concluded. In such parties, one may notice that both the guests and host will not hesitate to belt out series of Bollywood numbers. Sadly, Bollywood numbers is slowly replacing Ayu (rhythmic folklore handed down from the past).

In terms of money and material spent during this festival, I dare say, goes beyond what is necessary. Over the last few years, the operating cost of Myoko has hemorrhaged. And the respite from this outflow of money and material is not on the horizon. Besides, the people tend to spend more money during this time, possibly, to impress – encouraging others to follow suit. The Yalang or Ala Rita Naniin (portion of beef given to a booniin ajing) is turning out to be bigger and bigger in size. As a result, a whole lot of beef in addition to poultry, pork and cartons of egg is not sufficient enough to last long until the end of Myoko month. If luck favors, the foot and mouth disease of cattle and bird flu at this crucial time will play havoc to entire plan – creating an environment of scarcity and pushing the price of basic items beyond affordable and what’s more the cost of firewood and rice have yet to be added to the gross expenditure. Under such circumstances, to have a second thought about Myoko is apparently justifiable.

Regardless of the fact, the significance and contribution of Myoko principally in renewing ties with friends and relatives and binding the community in a collective unit cannot be neglected. However, the question remains: Will the essence of Myoko last? What if the poor people cannot afford to celebrate it? With the augmentation in the gap between rich and poor, the Myoko is bound to lose its vitality in course of time. So, with due respect to Myoko, amendment in certain custom is inevitable. For instance, the quantity of Yalang could be reduced to a large extent, which is a give-away to booniin ajing. And bestowing other gifts like a packet of tea leaves and milk powder, sugar, etc. to booniin ajing should be altogether stopped. Furthermore, many a thing could be shunned that is not absolutely mandatory during Myoko. To sum up, a public debate need to be conducted to form a consensus to amend in some of our recent habit if not amended, it is sure to do more harm than good in near future. Moreover, it is not that the Myoko never have borne the brunt of reformation. In olden times, the Myoko used to be celebrated in a joint way. Later it was converted into triennial event. Again, in the early eighties, the Apatani Youth Association (AYA) decided to fix the date of inaugural day of Myoko on 20th of March month. As to people’s occasional discu
ssion about holding the festival once in a five year by dividing Talyang-Hao, Niichi-Niitii and Tinii-Diibo into five groups. That, in my opinion, seems fairly reasonable if it could be implemented.

Suppose the expenditure in Myoko keeps escalating and the people remains obstinate about relaxation in certain formal procedure, another horde of people would not hesitate to turn to Hinduism, Christianity and Meder Nello as the tendency of escapism in people is greater than the will to fight to the finish. Besides, the missionaries of all denominations at all times are ready to pounce and put a shackle on them. Eventually, there will be neither Lapang nor Babo; only the flag of Meder Nello, Hindu and Christian will stay.