tribal-lockdown-rituals

Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh have revived indigenous lockdown rituals to contain the spread of COVID-19. The State of Arunachal Pradesh is geographically closest to China’s Hubei province where the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Rituals by Different Tribes

Galos Tribe

  • The Galos, which are one of the 26 major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that dominate West Siang district practised the Arr-Rinam ritual.
     
    • The Galo community has been recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in the Amendment to the Constitution (ST), Order, 1950, Part-XVIII.
    • Mopin is the main festival in Galos which is celebrated for the prosperity of the villages. The Galos perform Popir dance.
  • Arr-Rinam is the Galo equivalent of lockdown imposed by consensus for 48 hours whenever an epidemic strikes.
  • The Arr-Rinam follows the Ali-Ternam (the word Ali means epidemic and Ternam means forestall) ritual to ward off an epidemic.
  • These rituals were last performed almost four decades ago when a water-borne disease had affected many members of the community.
  • However, these rituals have been performed periodically for livestock, primarily the semi-wild animal mithun, that are prone to contagious diseases.
  • This is for the first time in 30-40 years that the rituals were performed for the safety of humans.
  • The Bos or deputy priests performed the Ali-Ternam under the guidance of a Nyibo (shaman).
  • The ritual ended with the community leaders sealing five major entry points of the district.

Adi Tribe

  • The Adi community also performed a similar ritual called the motor or pator system in the Adi (tribe) dialect.
  • This is a customary self-restriction, where the locals lock down several villages by erecting barricades to prevent the entry of outsiders. No person is allowed to enter or leave the villages.
  • They believe that this ritual lets shamans with legendary powers to locate wild herbs to combat an epidemic.

Note:

  • The Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is believed to have come from southern China in the 16th century.
  • They are the Tibeto-Burman language speaking population..
  • They reside in the far north inhabiting East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Adis are experts at making cane and bamboo items.
  • Solung (harvesting festival where animal sacrifices and rituals are performed) and Aran ( a hunting festival where all the male members of the family go for hunting) are two major festivals of the Adi tribes.

Nyishi Tribe

  • In districts such as Papum Pare and East Kameng, the dominant Nyishi community observed Arrue involving self-quarantine.
  • Nyishi Tribes also called Bangni are the tribal people of eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly North East Frontier Agency).
  • Nyishi is a Scheduled Tribe. It is the single largest tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • They speak the Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan family.
  • The Nyishi support themselves with slash-and-burn agriculture and with hunting and fishing.
  • They live together in a longhouse without partitions but with a separate fireplace for each conjugal family.
  • Aside from a patrilineal household there is no formal social organization or village government.
  • Their religion involves belief in spirits associated with nature.

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Source: TH