Bordering the northeastern state of Assam and Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh is one of India’s most culturally rich states. Being the largest city of all the seven sisters, Arunachal Pradesh is home to several tribes and communities living in peaceful harmony with each other. The culture of these tribes have now combined with different traditions and beliefs to create an interesting mosaic that shapes the life of people here.
Dancing is one of the most celebrated forms of entertainment and expression in Arunachal Pradesh. The people here have assigned dances for every occasion, feeling, and event. Check out these folk dances of Arunachal Pradesh:
List of the 14 Traditional Folk Dances of Arunachal Pradesh
1. Aji Lhamu
Practised by the Monpa tribe of the Tawang region, Aji Lhamu is one of the most prominent dance forms of Arunachal. The monpas were a nomadic tribe that had a history of migrating from Changeling. The first characteristic of the Aji Lhamu dance that will catch your attention is the colours and vibrancy. The dance tells the Tibetan version of the Hindu epic Ramayana through drum beats and dramatically energised performance. Props like sticks and masks are used in this dance. Aji Lhamu is performed during grand occasions like weddings and festivals.
Ponung is a traditional folk dance that has roots in the Adi community residing in Arunachal Pradesh. The vibrant dance is accompanied with an interesting song that is performed right before the harvest season as a way of thanking the lord. The dance is extremely lively and is mainly exhibited during all-important auspicious occasions and festivals. It is an all-exclusive women dance performance where it also invites young girls as well as older women to participate and celebrate. The lead dancer goes by the name of Miri and she is adept in all mythical songs regarding the growth of harvest and paddy.
Taapu is a men-centric war dance that takes place during the auspicious festival of Aran. During the olden days this part of India was in a warring situation with other tribes and invaders. The intention of Taapu dance is to drive away all the evil forces and negative energy from the villages. The dance involves rigorous re-enactors of war situations and actions. The glorious and triumphant war cries makes the dance performance even more dramatic. The dance marks the starting of the shifting cultivation.
Eme Relo is one of the most prominent dance forms of the Adi Galo tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Galo is a central Himalayan tribe, residing in the western Siang region of the state that are descendants of the Abotani tribe. Since the people of Arunachal depend heavily on agriculture, climatic conditions, and the forces of nature for their everyday life, they make sure to keep these unseen forces happy through pujas and dance rituals. This theme-based dance tells us the story about the creation of rivers and underwater animals.
There is a dance dedicated to all age groups in Arunachal Pradesh which is a rare aspect. The Yakjong dance forms one of the most important folk dances of the Adi tribe. The dancers are young children who go to every house in the neighbourhood while doing this dance. All these houses welcome these dancers with great enthusiasm. Everyone who welcomes the Yakjong Dancers is blessed with bumper crops. The dance and energy involved is loaded with a positive vibe. Every dancer can be seen carrying a stick with designs on them and shower blessings on every house that welcomes them in.
When it comes to unique dances in Arunachal Pradesh, they never fail to impress. The Beesu Nay is one of the most interesting and unique dances not only in Arunachal Pradesh but in all of India as well. The dance involves the performer mimicking a monkey, its mannerisms as well as actions. The dance is based on a mythological story of 4 brothers that is famous in the local regions of the state. It is a dramatic dance with unexpected twists and turns where the story is incredibly awe-inspiring.
6. Kacheng Aluwang
Kacheng Aluwang is a prominent folk dance of the Khampatis tribe. The Khampatis tribe is a major tribal population in Arunachal Pradesh residing mainly in the Lohit district of West Bengal. This warrior dance is also described as a traditional way of welcoming a guest or a visitor. The dance centres around the common theme of heritage festivals and mythological stories. Performed mainly during festive occasions this dance is more than a performance as it tells a story.
7. Kaa Kong Tu Kaai
The roots of Arunachal Pradesh’s culture is deeply engraved in their tribal cultural beliefs. The dance is a part of the celebration by the Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The dance is accompanied with local folk music and singing that the viewers sing along. The dance tells the story of the life of the locals performing daily activities. It is a looking glass into the lifestyle of the locals of Arunachal. This tribal dance is one of the most well-preserved folk entertainment sources of North East India.
8. Nechi Dau
Nechi Dau is the traditional dance of the Aka people from the West Kameng region in Arunachal Pradesh. The dance is mainly performed during special pujas and festive occasions as a way of thanking the gods and goddesses. Every year the dance takes place over a duration of 4 days annually during the month of November. The dance is also believed to ward off evil spirits, diseases, and other such problems to keep the people, kids, and everyone else safe from bad omen and bad luck.
This dance of the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, is performed over a 3-day duration of the agricultural festival called dress. The dance marks the beginning and welcome of the rice sowing season and is generally accompanied by prayers for a good harvest and blessings of protection from natural calamities. The dance is an offering to the flour gods of the tribe called Tamu, Harniang, Meiti, and Danyi. The dance glorifies the greatness of the people of apatani. Daminda also includes songs about love and romance that are sung by women and children.
10. Bardo Chham
The name of the dance literally translates into ‘dance of the zodiacs’ and is performed primarily by the people of the Sherdukpen community. The community has a detailed story behind this dance. This involves that there are 12 evil entities, just like 12 zodiac signs that appear over the course of the year. The dancers of Bardo Chham narrate this story through this dance. The dance is performed by both men and women of the community and holds this dance very close to their hearts. They even have a dramatic fight to showcase the victory of good over evil.
11. Lion And Peacock Dance
The lion and peacock dance of Arunachal Pradesh has to be one of the most colourful, vibrant, and dramatic folk dances. The dancers don animal costumes and gyrate and do body movements that imitate the dancers. This dance is extremely loved and well-preserved by the Monpa Tribe. The dancers divide themselves in groups of two accompanied with a drummer each and the dancers also wear peacock and lion masks to replicate the movement of the animals mentioned.
12. Yak Dance
Also referred to as Yak Chham, is a traditional folk dance of Arunachal Pradesh that is not only performed in Arunachal but is also performed in Sikkim, Ladakh, and other fringes of the Himalayan regions. As the name suggests, a yak dancer impersonates the movement of yaks with a dancer sitting on the shoulder. It is one of the most exciting and unique types of dances in Arunachal. The dance is so well-loved all over the subcontinent that it even won the first prize during the republic parade. The dance is performed to honour the yak animal during the Losar festival.
13. Igu Dance
The Igu Dance belongs to the Mishmi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh which inhabits the districts of Lohit, Dibang Valley, and lower Dibang Valley parts of Arunachal Pradesh. This is a ritualistic dance belonging to the Buddhist tribes of the region. Women are completely forbidden from watching or performing the dance and are mostly performed by the Buddhists. The dance steps vary from martial steps to highly specialized and intricate steps.
The Rikhampada is a traditional folk dance belonging to the Nishi tribe residing in the Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is said that this dance along with the Nyokum Festivals was introduced to them by one of their forefathers that went by the name of Apatani during the time he had migrated to the region along with his tribe. The songs accompanying the dance are in the form of ballads that narrate the legends of love.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What Is The Local Language Spoken In Arunachal Pradesh?
Ans. English is the first language of Arunachal Pradesh along with 30 to 50 more distinct languages.
Q. Which does State see The First Sun Rise In India?
Ans. Arunachal Pradesh sees the first rays of the sun among other states in India and is also known as the land of the rising sun.
Q. What Is Arunachal Pradesh Best Known As?
Ans. Arunachal Pradesh is mainly known for its national parks, wildlife, monasteries, forests, sparkling streams, snowcapped mountains, etc.
Q. How Far Is Tawang From Guwahati?
Ans. Tawang is 518 kms away from Guwahati by road.
Q. Where Can I See Snow In North East India?
Ans. Snow can be seen in Sandakphu, Bomdila, Nathu La, Katao, Tawang, Lachung, Lachen etc.