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- Komi Mije

A Festival is an essential part of the socio-cultural life, which reflects the customs, tradition and life style of the Adi people. Festival are celebrated in every part of the country. Particularly in North- East religion different festival are being celebrated by each janajati community. ADI is one of the prominent tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The word ADI means “Hillmen”. The ADI was also known as “ABORS” a word of Assamese origin. But later they disliked the word ABORS and changed from ABORS to ADI. The ADI’S are mostly inhabiting in the districts of West Siang, Upper Siang, Lower Siang Valley and parts of Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh.

Demographic distribution of ADI: The major people of ADI mostly inhabit in the three Siang districts. According to the census conducted in 1991. The population of district was 1,49,729 which is expected to be increased in the later census.

Periodicity of celebrations: During early days, it was celebrates in the month of July-August. But today we celebrate it as Solung during September. It was broad based community celebration collectively for the first time at Pangin town of the then Siang district (Now in East Siang district) in the year 1966 and till today it is celebrated on community based in town areas. The story of creation of cosmos, the earth, the life and Tani’s (men’s) struggle for existence; the story of bringing agriculture to man or society are being recapitulates and transmitted to the younger generations in the form of “AABANG” ( Rhapsodies of the Solung festival). Solung festival inspires man to lead an ideal life for attainment of unification.

Social importance: The festival of ADI’s are celebrated with great joy, enthusiasm and most importantly with a feeling of togetherness, as thanks giving ceremonies to God and for his gift as crops and freedom.

Solung festival is the greatest annual festival of the ADIS. This may be said as the life and main feature of ADI culture. In this festival the ADIs worship Doying Bote (the divine protector), Kine Naane (the mother Goddesses of prosperity), Dadi Bote ( The God of domestic animal) and  Gumin Soyin (the God of household and family or the villages). This is the youngest festival according to genealogical list of ADI festivals. The greater part of the solung is only meant for woman folk. Therefore, in Solung festival the leading part of merry making is played by woman folk, specially the virgin girls by performing Ponung dance. Mythlogically, Solung was the last festival sent by Kine Naane to the people of Engo Takar. Then it rolled down to Tani and the ADIs have preserves it until today. Being the last Festival it was adorned befittingly by the female folk, as a gift of Kine Nane. All blessings and Good wishes for the prosperity of life was sent to the people of Engo-takar and advised them to perform the festival so that they remember her and Doying Bote under whose spiritual care and protection they got the light of knowledge and wisdom. Further, she advised them that for the healthy growth of all food grains “BINNYAT” must be performed and for the good of men and animals-“AGAM KEEPEL and TAKTOR must be performed”. Therefore, to fulfill the desires of KINE NAANE and DOYING BOTE, AGAM KEEPEL is offered on the eve of evening of the festivals to invoke all gods, goddesses and deities to visit the house and village and bless the mankind and domestic animals. Binnyat is offered in the paddy fields to appease and propitiate KINE NAANE acknowledging her blessing to the ENGO TAKAR people with food grains. Taktor is performed by hanging or fastening bow and arrow on the main passages of the house with ginger on the tip of the arrows.

PONUNG dance is performed by the girls to solemnize the festival for 3 to 4 nights. The Ponung is led by a Miri (Singer) who narrates Aabangs – the shastras from the beginning of the universe, the evolution of man, animals and plant kingdom. On the first night, the Aabangs mainly deal with the creation of universe, man and animals’ kingdom.

BINNYAT: Now, the second part of the festival is called Binnyat - a worship to Kiine Naane - the mother goddess of prosperity and food grain etc. The Aabang of this Binnyat takes its course after shooting “GUMGONG”- the gigantic animal by Nuyi in the mass hunting for destroying the sweet potato garden of Engo-Takar people. The injured animal run away and Sanyi - the most reliable dog follows it. She followed the animal to some extent but when she loses the footprint of that animal, she also loses her path and get lost.

The injured animal jumps into a deep gorge. Sanyi runs and runs without a goal oo her journey. Luckily, she reaches a land of granary where she meets Kiine Naane, the owner of that granary. On enquiry by Kiine Naane, Sanyi introduced herself and said that she came from a land called Engo -Takar. While she was chasing a wild animal injured by Nuyi, she lost her path and it was a blessing in disguise that she luckily landed in the land of Kiine Naane. Kiine Naane welcomed Sanyi warmly and told her that actually she was waiting for a representative from the land where she came for sending seeds of grains. Therefore, after becoming acquainted with each other, Kiine Naane sent seeds of grains to Engo-Takar with Sanyi by tying grains on her ears. Thus, the people of Engo-Takar got seeds of grain from Kiine Naane. Immediately they sowed the seeds by cleaning jungles. But other malevolent spirits became jealous of Engo-Takar who were neighbours of Kiine Naane but did not get seeds of grains from her. So, from all corners they came to destroy the paddy field of Engo-Takar by sending destructive animals. In Aabang, food grains are mentioned as living objects and so seeds of grains ran away with the fear of being hurt them by destructive animals. Some portions returned to Kiine Naane, some portions ran towards land of Banji-Banmang (Blood thirsty spirit), some remained hidden in the field itself. The Engo-Takar people now became helpless and arrived at their wits end. To collect those dispersed seeds of food grains from different places Buisi Tuying Lamping - a living religious ornament (Emul) was requested to visit the place with missionary spirit. He agreed to perform the task. First he went to meet Kiine Naane and asked her to return those food grains which came back from Engo-Takar land. Instead of sending back the returning grains, she advised Buisi Tuying Lamping to call out those portions of grains which had hidden in the field itself by invoking them with his religious ornaments. Buisi Tuving Lamping agreed to perform it and came back, but on the way he visited the land of Banji-Banmang to meet the grains. It was found that Banji jiri Mone -a lady of the land was drying the grains for husking. To save the grains from her hand he threatened her that a blood thirsty person is entering their land searching for blood and flesh. With these words Jiri Mone was frightened and she ran away, then he picked up all the grains and came back with that grain and handed over to Engo-Takar people. But Lo! The grains were found to be of red colors and uneatable by mankind. Buisi Tuying Lamping informed them that understanding the condition of the grains he washed it in the stream of Kiine Simi but could not remove the red colour stains. Further, he informed them that a portion of the grains were hiding in the field itself and Kiine Naane told him to invoke them by his religious ornament to come out. Accordingly, he performed it and all the hiding grains came out from which the Engo-Takar people got seeds and started cultivation again.

Earlier to this, it was mentioned “DENDE SOBO” as the origin of food grains according to Aabangs. It is said that all food grains sprang out from the pieces of meat of Dende Sobo when its meat were thrown into different directions by Doying Bote. The vital portion (Private parts and Blood veins) of Dende Sobo were thrown into the land of Kine Naane which she nursed and planted, in her garden.

In course of time, from every piece of meat and blood, various food grains like maize, paddy and millets etc germinated and Kiine Naane prepared nursery for these plants in her land. So, the land of Kine Naane is called granary in Aabang.

The people of Engo -Takar harvested bumper food grains from their cultivation and became self sufficient in food. They thought they must pay back to Kiine Naane for all the blessings offered to them by her. So, Binnyat offering was performed with rice bread, cake, blood of sacrificed animals in the festival and Apong in the paddy field. This is still practiced by the Adis as worship to Kiine Nane to harvest bumper crops.

TAKTOR: The third part of Solung is called Taktor or Ekop - a worship to divine protector and god of household, to protect the mankind and the domestic animals from disease and epidemic and other evil spirits. The Aabang of Taktor begins with the struggling life of Tani (man). Pedong Naane, after giving birth to Tani, immediately disappeared and so Tani become an orphan. To look after Tani, Gumin Soyin was sent from the land of Kiine Naane. Tani, though the youngest one was strong, courageous and intelligent, understanding his quality and character Gumin Soyin took all pain to train him up to make the world worth living for him. In every trial and test, Tani successfully performed which satisfied Gumin Soyin highly. When Gumin Soyin had full confidence with Tani in any struggle for his existence, he let him free to land in the practical fields so that he could establish his place by his own ability and capacity. Tani moved out to fulfill his ambition and roamed around the world. He encroached and invaded all lands, countries and kingdoms of all spirits, deities and even gods and goddesses. He over powered all, and all surrendered to him acknowledging his superiority. His fatal mistake in this expedition was the attack on the land of diseases and epidemic which caused almost a total ruin of his health. That land of disease or epidemic was called Taapu -Taalang. After the encroachment into that land, Tani physically became exhausted and mentally became mad. Therefore, he began to move around the world aimlessly and ultimately he encroached in the lands of Doying Bote and Kiine Naane and disturbed them too. So, they immediately informed Gumin Soyin to call back Tani from that brutal act and expedition. Tani came back in imbalanced mental condition. His madness was actually caused by blood thirsty spirit which ran after him all along the expedition for blood. To drive out that blood thirsty spirit from the body of Tani, his aunty and sister had to receive him with wooden blade (Sumpa) of loom. A bundle of beads and other religious instruments and ornaments were tied on his hair and then his head was covered with Gaale (Mekhela) of women. He was kept in the Musup till he got sense. Tani recovered his sense but his health remained the same. To regain his health, Kiine Naane and Doying Bote advised Cumin Soyin to arrange Taapu Dance to fight against the germs of Taapu -Taalang which caused his bad health. In Taapu, Tani had to dance again with all his war dresses as he fought with the people of Taapu -Taalang. Only after the Taapu performance Tani regained his health.

The health of Tani was not perfectly all right even after the performance of Taapu and so for complete regain of his health and also to bring fertility to his body, Kiimu and Roja were sent from the land of Kline-Naane. Due to Kiimu and .Roja, all germs were supposed to be killed completely but it remained unfinished. Secondly, the evil spirits were always after Tani which disturbed Tani from time to time. His last enemy was his elder brother, ROBO, who was trying to take every chance to overpower Tani on the grounds that in every competitive act of performance he was defeated by Tani by virtue of his intelligence and cleverness. One day, as finishing task of competitive activities between these two brothers and with an intention to bring total destruction of Tani, Robo called Tani to fell tree for making country boats. In this competition Robo was so active and expert that before Tani could make one boat, he made two boats and he invited Tani to examine the finishing touch of his workmanship. Here Tani was a bit foolish. He was not conscious of his enemy brother who was looking for every chance to take revenge of his early defeats. When Tani minutely observing by looking down at the base, Robo immediately covered him with the second boat and set to float on the river under cover. Tani floated on water for about twelve years and by the grace of Papa Randang (a bird with hard teeth) who cut the covered boat into two pieces and Tani was released. Tani came back home but he found that his wife was married to Robo which enraged Tani all the more. He took shelter at the roof of the house in such a position that at one strike he would finish Robo. Robo came home in the evening after his days work. According to his (Tani) plan, Robo has to climb up the ceiling to repair the house at that time Tani plunged on Robo with his sharpened axe to hit on the head but he missed the target, and Robo with all his physical strength and force ran away and escaped from the fatal attack of Tani. Thus, at last Robo was also driven out and Tani acquired all his belongings.

Tani felt lonely and bored, he wanted to meet Robo at last. Once, he went out to search for Robo and luckily found him on the top of a tree carrying a baby of evil spirit. Tani wanted to be frank with him but Robo with all shamefulness, was talking with Tani turning his back towards him. Tani with all eagerness wanted to see the face of Robo and approached him but Robo immediately turned away from the notice of Tani by saying that I can see Nibo (Tani). Ngo Nibo me kaado, where as Tani could not see the Robo’s appearance. At last Tani plucked a leave of an Ekkam Kosuk and made a hole on it. Tani looked through this hole then only Tani could see the appearance of Robo, moving far away from Tani, holding a fishing net on his shoulder. (Here the fishing net implies that the evil spirit can attack and cause illness to men secretly which can’t be seen with men’s naked eye. And seeing the appearance of Robo through the hole of leaf implies that the evil spirits that caused disease, or future events can be perceived or told, by examining the chicken liver only by men. So, till today, the Miris and man of spiritual power practices this perception method.

Tani established his social life, established his relation with all benevolent gods and goddess for prosperity of his life, domestic animals and food and grains etc. He dominated the world as super animal. Kiine Naane and Doying Bote were also satisfied with him and so all festivals that were preserved by Kiine Naane were sent to Tani as gifts and blessing and to celebrate them according to their times and seasons. Thus, Solung festival was sent last of all.

As already mentioned that some evil spirits still lingers on the atmosphere, they sometime encroach village during festival time and to disperse such evil spirits Taktor is performed on the last day of the festival by fastening bows and arrows on the main passages of the house with pieces of ginger on the tips of the arrows.

BEDANG: The fourth part of Solung is called Bedang (a description of political boundary of the Adis). There is an imaginary journey along this boundary line in the tune of Ponung by all Ponung Girls under the leadership of the Miri (Singer).

While performing the imaginary journey of Bedang, the expert Miris mentioned historical backgrounds of every important place, mentioning the particular person’s name who caused the place a historic one. The Miris also narrates for common people, many historical knowledge of the tribe, clan and family etc. Secondly, it depicts the clear picture of old boundary line of the Adis and also the tribes or sub-tribes who celebrate Solung Festival. Therefore, Bedang is a book of knowledge of geography and history which cannot be left aside during Solung Festival.

Now, we have seen that there are several occasions where Adis worship Kiine Naane, Doying Bote, Dadi Bote and Cumin Soyin etc. While performing worship they chant sacred hymns / prayers and rituals also to appease those gods and goddesses.

Thus, in Solung all the benevolent gods and goddesses are recollected, remembered, invoked and worshipped for the prosperity and tranquility of life which are essential for existence and survival on this earth by every human beings. Without these festivals the social life of the Adis will be dull.