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Folklore In Arunachal Pradesh – Stories Of Creation – Sorrow - Mortality

Literary and cultural folk traditions of Arunachal Pradesh include legends, myths, rituals, stories of creation, death, sorrow and so on. Arunachal Pradesh consists of 26 major tribes, each having their numerous lores. Much of the folklore is based on believes about a supernatural power at the root of all creation, including the human species.

The Minyongs of the Adi community tell us how man became mortal. The tale narrates the making of an earthen vessel by one Nirur Bothe, which he carelessly dropped and broke into pieces. Upon this Danyi-Polo, the creator, let Nirur Bothe know that as his creation had been destroyed, man would no longer be immortal and must die.

Another story by the Gallong section of Adi community relates how sorrow came to human beings. It is said that Tani, the progenitor, found a bird lamenting its lost fledglings, in a storm that had uprooted the tree on which it lived. Tani compelled the bird to spit on a leaf, which he then made into two necklaces. When Tani put the necklaces around his two children, they immediately died, thereby forcing Tani to weep. This lore tells us that since then dying and weeping became common among human beings.

It conveys what he original philosophers among the tribes thought about the logic of life and death, happiness and sorrow.

The Akas of Arunachal Pradesh have an interesting lore of creation of the earth, which resembles the egg-story of Hiranyagarbha of Rig Veda. It is said that in the olden days there were two eggs, which were soft and shining like gold. While moving round and round, they once collided and broke open to give birth to two supernatural beings – Earth – the mother, and Sky – the father. It is believed that with the union of these two beings all things were born.

A sense of symbolism seems to have dominated the lores of creation of the earth among many tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

A lore among the Minyongs tells us that once there was water everywhere and the earth was hidden below. Even the rocks were soft like mud. As fate would have it, all the water dried up in course of time. Then the spirit Wiyu, who lived in water, died and a mountain was born out of its corpse. His bones and hair turned into trees and grass respectively, which expanded with time to create forests.

A similar folk story narrates the origin of every human being who later became known as Tangsa, Sinpho, Khamti etc. In fact, these names imply some major tribes of the state. A good number of folk tales describe the migration of different tribes of Arunachal Pradesh from their original abode.

The folklore of Arunachal Pradesh covers a wide range of subjects like migration, the origin of man, the creation of the universe, fests, and festivals, dance, music, ballads etc. The folklore of the Nooks of eastern Arunachal Pradesh is replete with stories of their origin. There is an episode of the marriage of the pretty daughter of the sky god with the spirit on the earth and from this human beings were born.

A section of the Tangsa tribe believes that, long ago, a couple had emerged from a big tree and created the whole world. Stories of varied forms of evolution, including man on Earth, are also popular among the Wancho tribe.

An interesting fable among some tribes of Arunachal speaks about a supernatural being called Khi-kukhopi-khkhop, hovering between the sky and earth, whose daughter Thunggan Boisun gave birth to a gourd-like fruit containing human beings. Mathum-matha, the Supreme Being, gave names to the beings that ultimately formed the different communities on the earth.

Folk songs and ballads of Arunachal Pradesh can be divided into two groups – religious – ritualistic and socio-economic. Songs of the first category are invariably sung under the initiative of a traditional priest, and they cover rites and rituals pertaining to marriage, death and agriculture. The second category comprises songs composed for general events, such as dance, music and festivals. However, both categories may be used when the celebrations are meant for merry-making. Every occasion pertaining to agriculture, like ploughing the land, sowing the seeds, or harvesting, is preceded by a ritual. These rituals can be considered as the core of the culture of each tribal society.

The folklore of some tribes of Arunachal Pradesh resembles the Mahapralaya story of Hindu Puranas. Other Hindu stories are also reflected in some fables. The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is essentially Hindu in thought and spirit.