From the land locked terrains of the Himalayan foothills, a postcard to the dusty plains would appear to contain within itself all the delightful flavours of the hills. More so, if it happened to be from nature’s treasure trove- Arunachal Pradesh. Away from the maddening rush and hustle bustle of city life, this easternmost state of India is a nature lover’s delight. Couple it with the rich and vibrant customs of its twenty-six colourful tribes and you have a fascinating fare. The state’s immense diversity, both biological and cultural, makes it a unique place of interest  to the people from all parts of the world.

What makes it remarkable are the varied lifestyles of the different tribes adapted to climatic variations ranging from sub tropics to cold deserts. Their dependence and understanding of the surrounding environment explains their harmonious relationship with nature. Conservationand sustainable living seems to be woven in the tradition of these tribes. The diverse ecosystem of the region houses a mind boggling array of flora and fauna, some of which were earlier unknown to science while many more await to be discovered. From the flaming rhododendrons to the fabled tragopans, nature’s profusion can truly be perceived here. Stretches of absolutely inaccessible forests would invariably draw out the naturalist in one in quest of nature’s bounty.

A part of Arunachal’s appeal lies in its sheer ruggedness and intractability, a bottleneck no doubt, in the way of development but this has helped preserve its pristine charm somewhat, albeit passively. The land and people of the state reverberate with a vibrancy scarce known. Their hospitality could envelop you with a heady feeling, more so if you have had a spiritual welcome! Their local rice or millet brew ‘Apong’ forms an intrinsic part of their tradition and aguest to any local household is inevitably offered some as routine hospitality.

A particular custom of the Nyishi tribe around Seijosa entails its member to wear a headgear which has a hornbill beak, among other things, attached to it. As this is part of tradition, killing of hornbills naturally follow. But the tradition of the same tribe strictly prohibits the hunting of hornbills during summer, i.e. their mating season. This ensures the steadiness of the bird population. It is commonly known that during the mating season the female of the species is locked up inside the hollow of  trees hatching her eggs while it is only the male that is seen flying around to gather food. Thus killing a male would result in the death of the female and her unborn chicks. A unique instance indeed, of a harmonious blend of tradition and conservation!

Image Source: Google

Certain rituals of the tribes are exotic and even awesome to the outsider at times. The Parsis, for instance, would find strange kinship with the Wancho tribe of Tirap district ofthe state. This tribe has a system of platform burial of their dead. The body of a deceased one is taken to the ja-kha orthe burial place and the wrapped corpse is kept on an erected platform about five to six feet high. It is left to decompose till the skull separates whereby it is carried off for customary rituals and a final burial. Strangely reminiscent of the Parsis’ dokhma  or the ‘Tower of  Silence’ wouldn’t that be ?

This land with its rich and varied biotic environment baffles one with its sheer diversity. Wrapped in its myths and legends are messages of conservation posterity would do well to take hints from. To immerse oneself in its emerald depths, a quote from Emerson could provide the clue — Let us be silent so that we may hear the whispers.

Other reads:

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.