Unique Identity of Northeast Region (Yojana August 2020) (Download PDF)

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  • Earliest human footprints have been traced back to the early Stone Age or Palaeolithic age between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago.
  • Population density is lowest in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Home to people belonging to various human races.
    • Ethnologists pointing at the presence of traces of Negritos.
    • Apart from prominent existence of people of
      • Pre-Dravidian
      • Eurasian
      • Austroloid
      • Mongoloid
      • Alpine or Armenoid
      • Mediterranean
      • Indo-Aryan and Irano-Scythian
  • Division of people into three broad groups from the ethnological point of view:
    • Hill tribes
    • Plain tribes
    • Non-tribals of the plains
  • Over 68 % of the region’s population lives in Assam alone.
  • The tribal population ranges from 12.4 % in Assam to 94 % in Mizoram.
  • This region has over 160 Scheduled Tribes and over 400 other tribal and sub-tribal communities and groups.
  • Over 80 % of the region’s population lives in the rural areas.
  • Most tribes belong to the Indo-Mongoloid racial stock and speak languages of different divisions and subdivisions of the great Sino-Tibetan linguistic family.

Tibeto-Burman Sub-Family of the Sino-Tibetan Group

  • The Bodo, Rabha, Dimasa and Karbi languages of Assam.
  • Garo of Meghalaya.
  • Kokborok of Tripura.
  • Most of the languages spoken in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and the hill of Manipur belong to the Tibeto-Burman sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan group.
  • Assamese belong to the neo Indo-Aryan family.
  • Khasi is a Mon-Khmer (Austro-Asiatic) language spoken in Meghalaya.
  • Sikkim has three major languages Bhotia, Lepcha, and Nepali.

Religious Perspective

  • Majority of the tribal communities in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur have in the past 200 years embraced Christianity by leaving behind their traditional faiths of nature worship.
  • Majority of people in Assam, Tripura and Imphal valley of Manipur, has subscribed different forms of Hinduism.
    • Vaishnavism is more prominent in Assam and Manipur.
  • Major indigenous faiths:
    • Donyi-Polo in Arunachal Pradesh
    • Niam-tre in Meghalaya
  • Arunachal Pradesh also has a significant presence of Buddhism: the Monpa, Sherdukpen, Memba and Khamba tribes following the Mahayana school while the Khamti, Singpho and Tangsa tribes follow the Theravada school.

Festivals, Folk Songs, Music and Dance Forms

  • These are related to various agricultural practices.
  • Long in the Jhum or slash and burn method.
  • Most of the festivals were connected to clearing jungles for Jhum, tilling the soil, sowing seeds, and harvesting.
  • The festivals are also celebrated at the community level.
  • Bihu, which is the main festival of Assam, has its root in agrarian practices of ancient times.
    • Bhogaliharvest Bihu is celebration of the .
    • RongaliNew Year Bihu is about .
    • Kongalisolemn prayer for a good crop Bihu comprises .
  • Bodos call their New Year festival Baisagu, the Dimasas call it Busu, the Karbis call it Rongker, the Mishings call it Ali-aye-Lrigang, and the Rabhas call it Baikho.
  • In Meghalaya, the Khasis celebrate Shad Suk Mynsiem, the Jaintias celebrate Behdeinkham and Garos Wan gala.
  • In Mizoram all the three festivals Chap char Kut, Mim Kut and Pawl KutCheraw (the amazing bamboo dance). are related to agriculture during which the Mizos perform
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, the Adi community celebrates Solung, the Apatanis celebrate Dree, the Niyishis celebrate Nokyum, the Galos celebrate Mopin and Monpas celebrate Losar all being related to agriculture.
  • Some festivals of Nagaland tribe-wise are Sekrenyi (Angami), Aoling Monyu (Konyak), Moatsu (Ao), Tuluni (Sema), Tokhu Emong (Lotha) and Amongmong (Sangtam).
  • In Manipur Cheiraoba is the Manipuri New Year festival, Lai Harappa is celebrated to appease the sylvan deity called Umanglai.
    • Yaoshang is a weeklong Holi festival.
    • Rath Yatra also called Kang Chingpa is a nine-day chariot festival dedicated to Lord Jagannath.
    • Festivals among the tribal communities of Manipur:
      • Chavang-Kut of the Kuki-Chin group.
      • Gang-Ngai of the Kabuis.
      • Chumpha and Lui-Ngai-Ni of the Tangkhuls.
  • Two of the dance forms of the Northeast-Manipuri of Manipur and Satriya of Assam have been recognized as the classical dance forms of the country.
  • The most popular forms of Manipuri dance that developed in the 15th century have a large repertoire namely Raas, Sankirtana, and Thang-Ta.

Satriya Dance

  • This dance from was introduced in the 15th century AD by the famous Assamese saint reformer Sankaradeva.
  • This dance form is governed by strictly laid down principles in respect of hastamudras, footwork’s, Acharya’s, music, etc.
  • This dance form is primarily preserved and propagated by the several Satra or Vaisnavite monasteries located in Majuli (the largest river island in the world).

Kaleidoscope

Songs of Shaman-Arunachal Pradesh

  • Shamanism is prevalent among the different tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • For performing rites and sacrifices, every tribe in Aruncahal Pradesh has its own kind of ritual expert.
  • Shaman is mostly seen as a diviner, communicator, negotiator, healer, ritual specialist and religious expert but neither as a magician nor a mystic.
  • Shamans are also the storehouse of traditional knowledge in the form of legends, myths, ritual incantations etc. They are well versed in ritual performances and knowledge and wisdom associated with it.
  • Tani people believe in the existence of spirits. They need a human specialist (a shaman) with experience and can get access to the spirit world as a communicator.
  • Each clan has important religious specialists who initiate and foster contact with the spirits and divinities. They will contact the spirits and convey the messages between humans and spirits.
  • They have the power to call the spirits for blessings, support, and protection against evil.
  • Shamans are believed to enter into dialogue with the spirits and ask for prosperity and health of the members of the clan.

Sowa-Rigpa

  • Sowa-Rigpa means ‘Knowledge of Healing’Bhoti and is the derived from language.
  • It is an ancient Indian medical system conceived and propounded by Lord Buddha.
  • This was enriched in the entire Trans-Himalayan region.
  • It has moulded itself into the socio-cultural lineage since ages.
    • Every village has had an Amchi family to look after public health.
  • Acknowledged as a traditional medical system by the governments of:
    • India
    • Bhutan
    • Mongolia
    • Tibet
  • Lord Buddha pioneered the principle medical text “rGyud-bZi” (Chatush Tantra) -a textbook of fundamental principles of Sowa-Rigpa in Sanskrit language and translated into Bhoti language around 8th-12th century.
  • Yuthok Yontan Gombo and other scholars of Trans Himalayan region amended this according to the socio-climatic conditions.
  • The fundamental principles are based on:
    • Jung-wa-nga (Panchmahabutha)
    • Nespa-sum (Tridosha)
    • Luszung-dun (Saptadhatu) etc.
  • Health is an equation of balance of tridosha and five cosmophyiscal energies (Panchmahabuta), balance within the body; balance with the environment and with the Universe.
  • Unique diagnostic tools in Sowa-Rigpa:
    • Pulse examination
    • Astrological evaluation/analysis
  • The sources of medication are:
    • Safe
    • Effective
    • Time-tested

Chokri Naga Folk Songs-Nagaland

  • The Chokri community is a sub community under the tribe Chakesang (Naga).
  • Chakhesang tribes have a Chakesang cultural research center situated at Chethba town in Phek district.
  • They cherish the folk song culture as their proud heritage.
  • Forms as part of every occupation work, celebration, dances, folk media, war cry, solo, duet, trio, and many such possibilities.
  • The practitioners sing by memory due to the absence of literary script and the medium being oral.

Nazhu Festival-Nagaland

  • The Nazhu Festival of the Pochury Naga from Muluori merits attention as it continues to be observed by a small group of people who barely keep alive the ritualistic practices associated with ancestral religion.
  • The most symbolic and unique element common to all is heralding of Nazhu.
  • The erection of a bamboo totem Awuthruu that resembles a giant wind chime hung from a tall bamboo.
  • The totem is erected any day from the 20th to 24th February.
  • The totem goes up on the 24th February with all the formalities completed on this particular day.

Rongkhli-Meghalaya

  • Rongkhli or Tiger Festival is the religious festival celebrated by the people of Nongtalang Village in the War-Jaintia region of Meghalaya.
  • The War-Jaintias lives on the slopes of the west Jaintia hills district bordering Bangladesh.
  • They believe that they came to this earth from the sky through a golden ladder.
  • This golden ladder was located at one point of time at Sohpetbneng mountaintop in the northern part of the Khasi hills of Meghalaya.
  • Rituals have to be performed whenever any person from the village catches a tiger or 0069ts feline.
  • The people of Nongtalang worship two goddesses namely Ka Pyrtuh and Ka Kapong.
  • A date for the festival is decided after the village chief summons the Dorbar.
  • The festival is generally held in the month of January to March.

- Published/Last Modified on: November 20, 2020

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