Myth and origin of the tribes Arunachal Pradesh-THE AKAS

The Akas

THE AKAS

The Akas are a small tribal group inhabiting the sub-Himalayan regions of India towards the southern area of the Kemeng district of Arunachal, and they call themselves as Hursso. In fact, the name Aka has been given to them by the people of the plains in Assam, which means a painted, may be because of their custom of painting their faces profusely. Nothing concrete is known about the origin and migration of the Aka Tribe. As per a Hursso tradition, recorded by Dr. Elwin,  long ago there was a man called Awa, who got married to Jusam, the beautiful daughter of the Sun, and out their union were born one son and daughter named Sibji Sao and Sibjim-Sam and they are regarded as parents of all mankind. An Other scholar Sesselmayer remarks that, the Hursso (Akas) do not pretend to be the native inhabitants of the country which they now occupy, and have been unable to account for their real home. He argues that the Akas believe themselves to be the inhabitants of the plains of Assam and that their ancestors were driven out from Partalgose on the banks of the Ghiladhari river, north of bisnath by Krishna and Baral, the famous characters of Mahabharata.

An Other scholar gives another version regarding the original home of the Akas, quoting from an Aka legend that long-long ago all men descended from heaven to earth by means of ladders. While the Assamese and the Akas of the royal blood came down by a golden ladder, the remaining Akas used a silver ladder, besides, the Monpas and the Tibetans were given an iron ladder, while the Nishis and the Adis had to be satisfied with a bamboo ladder. All these people came to the  earth on the Longkapur Hill in the Lohit valley and then scattered in search of land. The akas spent so much time resting and drinking that others got the best of the land and the Akas had to accept what was left. They at first settled at Bhalukpung where on the right bank of the Bhorali river, their two chiefs Natapura and Bayu built their respective capitals. Bayu demanded the beautiful wife of Natapura as a sort of tribute and after a number of adventures the lady with a newly born child arrived at Bayu’s palace. The child Arima grew up to become a great warrior and finally killed his own father by mistake. Overcome by remorse, he migrated to the present country of the Akas and it is from his children that the present day Akas have descended.

It may be noted here that unlike many other tribes of Arunachal, the Aka legends points out that the migration of this tribe followed from south to north. i.e. from the plains of Assam to the Hills.

Advertisements

The Origin and Migration of Adi Tribe Part I- Compensated by the oral tradition of the people in the form of Legends, Myths, Folklores and Sayings etc.

The Origin

The Adis do not have any historical records in the want of a language; but this is compensated by the oral traditions of the people in the form of legends, myths, folklores, proverbs and sayings etc. These oral traditions are reflected in Abangs, Ponungs, Abes etc. The oral religious literature of the Adis is mainly represented by rhapsodies known a Abangs, relating to the mythe of creation, origin of social institutions and history of the people. The Ponungs are nothing but legthy ballads, drawing their themes from Abangs, highlighting the origin of different things including the Adis race itself. The Abes may be considered as the political literature of the people and the term is used to mean the introductory speeches given by the Kebang. An elderly person gifted with powers of good oratory is called the Kebang Abu, who traces the origin and migration of the people of the central zone of Arunachal from Uli, Usha and kumting in Tibet in a poetic language. There are dozens of myths currents among the Adis which talk about their origin and migration. The task of tracing the origin and migration of the Adis was taken over by various foreign scholars in the 19th and the early part of the 20th century.

William Robinson was the first European scholar to draw a connected account of the tribes and, as quoted, the difficulty in lifting up “ the dark veil which conceals the origin of the tribes”. John Butler thinks the Adis,“to be the descendents of the tortar race” by observing their physical features. Father Kreek believe that the Padams stood midway between mongoloid and Caucasian race and referred to a popular tradition about the origin of the padam people. He recollected a story that when the earth was full of mud, God came down from heaven and made two brothers and sisters with a handful of mud. The padams descended from the elder and the Miris from the younger brother. E.T. Dalton also tried to trace the origin of the Padams from an older son of a woman in the beginning of the earth. G.W. Beresford believes that all the Adis acknowledge a common origin from the Bor Abors. G.D.S. Dundar has also tried to trace the traditional origin of the tribes. R.C.R. Gumming refers that all the Adis claim their origin form some race tribes settled a Killing in Bomo-janbo country. According to a popular version,” in the beginning there was only darkness, and out of the union of the sky(Melo) and the earth(Sedi) things were born. Pedong nane who descended from Sedi-Melo were married to Yidum Bole and out of their union was born Donyi, the first man”. Dr. Verrier Elwin has collected some myths referring to Donyi or Tani as the first man on the earth.

Different branches of the Adi families however, have their own myths and traditions regarding their origin and migration. The Padam Minyong myths refer that keyum was the first in the line of creation. After a few generations came sedi who is believed to be the creator of the world. Pedong nane was the sixth generation of Sedi who gave birth to different gods, goddesses, spirits and animals and Donyi or tani was the youngest issues of Pedong Nane. This group of the adis regard Donyi or Tani as the common ancestor of the Adis. It is also believed that Pedong’s son was Dobir who had a son named Dirbo, and he had a number of sons. One of the sons of Dirbo was Bome from whom the Padams descended and the other was Banyo from whom the Minyongs descended. This myth of origin is also prevalent amongs Pasis, Panggis, karkos, Shimongs, Milangs and the Eastyern Adi groups.

 The myths of the Galo group of   Adis trace their origin from Sichi. They believed that after a few generations from Sichi, Tani, the first man was born and it was from him that all the sub-tribes of the Galo groups like the Pailibos, Bokars, Ramos etc.., came into being. The Pailibos claims to be the descendents of Sichi, the mother earth and recounts the story of the creation of different clans of the Pailibos from the descendents of Sichi or Sichang. The Bokars claims their descent from the first man Abo Tani and belives that one of the off-spring of Abo Tani was Dungume from whom runs the direct line of descent of the present day Bokars. The ramos attribute their origin to the union of Medoang (the sky) and Seaching(the earth) and consider Donyi (the sun) and Polo(the moon) as their first issues. As per their oral tradition, Donyi and Polo have gone to stay with medong(the sky) but the ramos have stayed back with their mother Seaching(the earth). It is also held that Jomso was the common forefather of the Ramos, Bokars and Pailibos. In the Galo mythology, Jimi is the creator who created Mrdo(the sky) and sichi(the earth) and from their union started the human race. The first child was Sibuk and one of his descendant was Tusi whose son was Rimi or Tani, the father of the man. Tani is the common father of man, as acknowledged by the Galos.

 

Ballad by the Adi-Gallong tribe of Arunachal Pradesh

The ballad is called Oyo Hoi Ya, describing the life of ‘Mother Village.( English translation of the song)

The song starts:

Come, let us cheer her who toils for us all
night and day of whom we exploit endlessly.
Let us make her life more colorful;
let’s show her we care.
We all come from our mother’s heart,
spring from her bosom like sprouts
The pods of sesame burst and
The seeds are scattered far,
Arrows fly out of view
In diverse directions shot
From the old stem
From the old stock
As new leaves grow,
We too spring from old stock

FOUR FOLKTALES FROM ARUNACHAL PRADESH

 

  Following four folktales deal with the theme of creation of the world. These stories show the belief of some tribes of Arunachal in this phenomenon. Each folktale belongs to one specific tribe.The name of the concerned tribe along with the name of the Frontier Division to which it belongs has been given in the form of the title of each story. These stories are taken from the book “MYTHS OF THE NORTH-EAST FRONTIER OF INDIA” authored by the renowned anthropologist Dr. Verrier Elwin, first published in the year 1958. It may be noted that the Frontier Divisions mentioned in the book are now known as districts.

 

 

(A) APA TANI – Reru Subansiri

 

At first Kujum-Chantu, the earth, was like a human being ; she had a head, and arms and legs, and an enormous fat belly. The original human beings lived on the surface of her belly. One day it occurred to Kujum-Chantu that if she ever got up and walked about, everyone would fall off and be killed, so she herself died of her own accord. Her head became the snow-covered mountains ; the bones of her back turned into smaller hills. Her chest was the valley where the Apa-Tanis live. From her neck came the north country of the Tagins. Her buttocks turned into the Assam plain. For just as the buttocks are full of fat, Assam has fat rich soil. Kujum-Chantu’s eyes became the Sun and Moon. From her mouth was born Kujum-Popi, who sent the Sun and Moon to shine in the sky.

 

(B) DHAMMAI (MIJI) – Nakhu, Kameng

 

 At first there was neither earth nor sky. Shuzanghu and his wife Zumiang-Nui lived above. One day Shuzanghu said to his wife, ‘How long must we live without a place to rest our feet ?’ Zumiang-Nui said, ‘What can I say to you ? You always live apart from me, and don’t love me. But if you truly love me and will stay with me, I will tell you ‘what to do.’ So Shuzanghu went to his wife and she conceived. In due time Zumiang-Nui gave birth to a baby-girl, Subbu-Khai Thung, who is the Earth and to a baby-boy, Jongsuli-Young-Jongbu, who is the Sky. But there was no place for them. So they fell down, down to where Phangnalomang the Worm and his wife were living, and the Worm swallowed them both. Zumiang-Nui tried to find her children and asked her husband, ‘What has happened to them ? Where have they gone ?’ But he could not tell her. Then she said, ‘Next time I have a child, make a clear flat place where I can keep him safely and set traps all round it.’ Shuzanghu made such a place and when his wife was delivered of her next child, there was somewhere for him to stay. And now when Phangnalomang came to devour the child he was caught in one of the traps. Shuzanghu found him there and split his body open. The two children were still in his belly and the lower part of his body became the Earth and the upper part the Sky. Now Earth and Sky lived together. The Sky went to his wife, the Earth, and she gave birth to a son, Subjang-Gnoi-Rise and a daughter, Jubbu-Jang-Sangne. These were gods but they had the shape of mountains. After they were born Earth and Sky separated and as they were parting Earth gave birth to two other children, a boy, Lujjuphu, and a girl named Jassuju, who had the form of frogs. They mated and from them a boy and a girl in human form, Abugupham-Bumo and Anoi-Diggan-Juje, were born. They were human but were covered with hair. They married each other and in time had three sons,Lubukhanlung, Sangso-Dungso and Kimbu-Sangtung.

 

(C) HRUSSO (AKA) – Buragaon, Kameng

 

 At first there was no earth and sky ; there were only two great eggs. But they were not ordinary eggs, for they were soft and shone like gold. They did not stay in one place, but were round and round. At last, as they went round, they collided and both the eggs broke open. From one came the Earth, from the other the Sky, her husband. Now the Earth was too big for the Sky to hold in his arms and he said, ‘Though you are my wife, you are greater than I and I cannot take you. Make yourself smaller.’ The Earth accordingly made herself pliable and the mountains and valleys were formed, and she became small and the Sky was able to go to her in love. When the Sky made love to the Earth, every kind of tree and grass and all living creatures came into being.

 

(D) SINGPHO – Imbu, Tirap

 

 At first there was no earth nor sky, but only cloud and mist. From it a woman called Khupning-Kuam was born, and since she came from the mist she was a sort of cloud. In time she gave birth to a girl called Ningon-Chinun and a boy called Tung-Kam-Waisun. They had the appearance of snow. When they grew up they married each other and from them were born a girl called Inga (Earth) and a son called Mu (Sky). Inga was mud and Mu, a cloud. These two also married and had a boy called Imbung, the Wind. When he was born, he blew so strongly that he raised the cloud, his father, into the sky and dried up his mother, the mud. In this way heaven and earth were made.

 

 

Adi Bari: A Performative Art

Adi Bari: A Performative Art

Talom Rukbo

 

 

Bari is a popular chorus song of male folk of the Adi which is performed during pime (Autumn) and unying-aaran (New Year festivals and New house ceremony) by sitting around the fire. The song is led by a main singer, followed by a group of people. bari has its particular characteristic lores of different types and varies from low to high like that of kawali and raga. The lores are very much classical, which cannot be picked up easily.

 

 

The bari performed in pime festival during autumn season is called barbi yi ying or podi pitpo bar. Here autumn season is described as a parting point of summer. Insects like snake, leech, mosquitos, etc. disappear during autumn season. The term barbi yiying is given after the name of an insect which appears on earth in autumn and disappears at the advent of spring. One of the main themes of this barbi yiying bari dwells at length on the life of this insect which was mysteriously born or found as a hard piece of meat from the thigh of a giant wild boar called gumgons. It was killed by the people who later became anxious to examine it. They boiled it in a bamboo chunga but it did not go soft like other meat. They went on boiling it for days together but it remained as hard as before. So they put it on bannana tree. At its touch, the bannana tree went dry. This was a great shock to the people and they put it on a hollock tree.They got the same result. They then put it on a flat stone, the stone broke into pieces. They threw it into the water, water started boiling and soon dried out. At their wit’s end they threw it towards a mountain. After a few days they peeped into the cave and heard a sweet voice. Anxious to know the source of the sweet voice, they invited priests from various places. But none could find out. Lastly, a priest called Sedi Relong Lotin Tabe detected that it was the very piece of meat that was thrown into the cave and it had transformed into a living creature and it was that creature which was singing. The insect was named after the priest, as Sedi Relong Lotin. The Adis believe that the insect took shape in autumn season, therefore it appears in the autumn season. It goes round the world singing with its sweet voice, causing natural changes.

The summer season disappears and dry season takes over; the green garment of the earth turns into yellow; dry season opens all roads and paths of movement of all natural creatures, so freely they move out; all poisonous insects are sealed up and all green fruits/grains are ready for food.

All these natural events are considered as the effects of the sweet song of the insect and blessing of the insect. Therefore, barbi yiying is regarded as a great messenger of natural changes and events. All these are described vividly/lively by the bari singer during pime Festival.

 

The next season and subject of bari is unying-aaran festival in winter season. Mythologically and philosophically, winter is called nyanyi the old aunt. Aaran festival is supposed to be brought by this old aunt from the land of koojum-kooja. (a civilised group of people of early days). It is beleived that people disappeared from the earth after a great battle against the spirit of water, when villages were eroded by water. Only the soul remained, koojum-nyanyi-meete, who came to human society with all festivals celebrated by the people of koojum-kooja. Here the winter is personified as living being by bari. It is said that the crust of the earth makes all arrangement of passages for quick and easy movement of nyanyi-meete (winter) to pass away from the earth. Therefore, green leaves become dry, river water turns dry, and the snow clad mountains welcome the mankind to arrange feast for nyanyi-meete.

Sometimes winter is regarded as a rich, kind and peaceful lady who brings happiness, peace and prosperity to mankind. Further she is supposed to bring some functionary duties as gifts to mankind and hand it over to new year (spring season) which again are inter-transferred to mankind by nature.

The gifts brought by nyanyi-meete are the arts of weaving, cultivation, festival, celebration, marriage ceremony, song and dance, and house construction.

In bari the spring season is regarded as a maiden girl or daughter of the year. As only daughter of the family (The New Year) she has taken over the above functionary duties from old aunt. As the first duty of the New Year, she puts new clothes to the Mother Earth and then the rest is left to mankind.

Bari is not only in touch with nature it has touch with spiritual aspects also. In Adi belief, house or home is regarded as the abode of souls of the family members with the beli; that it is the abode of household god (gumin soyin) who looks after the welfare of family. Therefore, house is always addressed as a personified being or spirit as follows : gumin babu (grand father gumin), soyin naane (grand mother soyin), gumin yaayi (father gumin), and soyin maami (mother soyin), gumin aji (baby gumin), and soyin olo (baby soyin)

In bari, the old house is addressed to as an old soul wearing old garment and the new house is addressed as a well-dressed newly born baby. The ceremonial feast is regarded as birth day feast and the ceremonial songs are treated as blessing and lullaby of the new house. Then the building materials – bamboo, wood, cane, leaves – are treated as limbs of natural creature like bone, veins, nails, hair etc. Thus there is spiritual attachment in the bari of new house ceremony.

During peak season of bari, among the experts, competition is held sometimes to test knowledge of various aspects of bari subject like mythology, philosophical back ground of creation of plants, animals, festivals etc.

Bari can be classified mainly into three types called ritok bari, nenem bari and, rellok bari. Every type of bari has its own characteristic tunes with different accent.

Thus the Adis also have their own traditional art of expressing all their philosophies of life and nature through bari songs enriching their cultural life. Therefore, bari is regarded and given a high status in the cultural realm of the Adis.

%d bloggers like this: