Tucked away in the tranquil valleys of Arunachal Pradesh is a village called Ziro. Apart from being famous for its rice cultivation, the pine-clad village is also the house of Apatani tribes. It also happens to be home to the Myoko Festival. By Kumar Shree
Myoko festival is celebrated by the many tribes residing in the Apatani villages. It is all about upholding the spirit of togetherness and friendship between these villages, and they take turns in celebrating the same. The Myoko festival is celebrated on a rotational basis by eight Apatani villages. It is also that time of the year when new paddy is sown in the field, and the residents pray for a good harvest in the upcoming months. The 10-day long festival is celebrated by a different tribe every year, and it’s usually celebrated from March 20 to March 30 every year.
As the festival goes on, the most important member of the community, called Shaman wears traditional clothes and leads the procedures. A tradition involving the sacrifice of pigs and chicken is also followed during the festival and is lead by the Shaman. He recites and blesses these animals before they are sacrificed. The newly-married women of these tribes also participate in this process and they apply rice flour and Apong — a pungent rice beer, on these animals.
These tribes are animist by nature, and they worship the sun and the moon. They also believe that all non-human natural beings like animals, rocks, thunder, and plants have spirits and they can influence human lives and events. As you begin to decode the Myoko festival from their perspective, you will learn that the festival of sacrifice and purification gives you a great insight into the lives of these tribes.
By Road & Train
Drive from Guwahati to Ziro Valley. The highway is in good condition till Itanagar. Other option is to take a train from Guwahati to Naharlagun and then a shared taxi from there to Ziro. You can also take a train from Guwahati to North Lakhimpur and then a shared taxi to Ziro.
By Air & Road
Take a flight to the nearest Tezpur Airport in Assam. Alternatively, and better suggested, take a flight to Guwahati, as the flights to Tezpur are more prone to cancellation.