Arunachal Pradesh, land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains, the beautiful North Eastern state was known as NEFA(North East Frontier Agency) till 1972. It gained the Union Territory status on 20 January 1972 and was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood on 20th February, 1987.


Arunachal Pradesh is home to diverse group of indigenous people, ethnic groups and tribes speaking about 50 different languages and dialects and following different social and cultural and religious practices.

The Adis, Apatanis, Nyishis, Monpas, Galos, Sherdukpens, Tagins are some of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Nyishi community is the largest ethnic group in Arunachal Pradesh. Nyi refers to “a human” and the word shi denotes “a being”, which combined refers to a human being. The cane helmet with the horn of the great Indian hornbill mounted on it is worn by the Nyishi men and is a striking feature of the tribe.

The Apatani tribes live in the Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh. They have a distinct traditional ecological knowledge of natural resources management and conservation. They are known for their colorful culture, traditional customs, festivals and spiritual belief systems. One of the most captivating members of the tribe are the older women , who wear facial tattoos and massive nose rings. This tradition, though quite non-existent now, dates back to pre-modern times, when the Apatani women were considered to be the most beautiful in all of Arunachal Pradesh. Men of other tribes would often steal the Apatani women, which led the Apatani men to tattoo the faces of their women and make them wear massive nose plugs, in order to make them appear less attractive.


Due to its diverse ethnic culture, the people of Arunachal Pradesh follow different beliefs from worshipping nature, the Sun, the Moon to following Buddhism and Vaishnavism. Christianity spread by the second half of the 20th century and now almost 30% of the population follow Christianity.

Donyi Polo

The indigenous people of Arunachal practice a form of worship called Donyi-Polo, which is the worship of omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent and is described as the cause of all creations including air, water, earth, soil, trees and flowers. According to this religion, there is an unseen Supreme Being with Super Power who created the universe, the plants, and the life elements – heat, light, air, water and earth. Physically this Supreme Power is represented by Donyi (The Sun) and Polo (The Moon) to preserve and maintain the law of nature for existence.

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The Nyshis believe in Donyi-Polo but their notion is somehow different from the Adis. The Nyshis attach more importance to the Donyi than to the Polo, whereas among the Adis, the two words are synonymous or treated as same word.

Rise of Christianity in Arunachal Pradesh

There has been a rise in Christianity due to conversions and various socio-economic factors. According to Christian missionaries, the people are converting because they find it difficult to adhere to indigenous faiths. However, there are other reports citing instances of forced conversions.

Tradition and ethnic culture seem to be dying a slow death in Arunachal Pradesh and unless there is a conscious effort to preserve the indigenous culture, these will be eliminated in a slow and systematic manner.

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References and Other Reads:,the%20tradition%20of%20Mahayana%20Buddhism.

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