Friday, May 15, 2009


The traditional religion of Arunachal Pradesh is called Donyi Polo.
It means “sun and moon”, in fact the main divinities are the Sun and the Moon which are considered the eyes of gods and nothing can be hidden to them.
People in Arunachal worship also other divinities such as the ancestral spirits. Often each God is linked to a specific aspect of daily life such as agriculture.
Despite the fact that Donyi Polo is deep rutted in local culture, there is a growing preoccupation amongst some members of the society because other religions are spreading into Arunachal Pradesh.
Apart from the Hindus, coming from the neighbouring Assam, there are also many Muslins belonging mostly to the community of Bangladeshi immigrants. Least but not last, a lot of local people are converting to Christian faith and the number of Missions has increased in the last years.
The worry is that the new religions with their rituals, rules and customs will destroy the heritage not only of the Donyi Polo, but also other tribal traditions.

People who still believe in Donyi Polo practice a lot of rituals. For example they build totems as a homage to Gods. There are different kind of totems. Some represent the number of children living in the house, other are very high and their function is to connect the earth to the sky, and men to Gods.
Some rituals are very complicated and long. For example we have assisted to a harvest festival.
All the people were convened in one house, sharing food and wine. Almost everything was derived from rice, including alcohol.
Inside the house a wizard was constantly singing a singsong, holding in his hand some little chicken.

After few time the action moved into an open field, in the middle of the rice field. Here there was a hut. In front of the hut there were some totems and the main offer waiting for being blessed by the wizard: a bull.

The man kept singing his obsessive song, while started killing the little chicken.

At the same time other men rounded the bull and finally, at a wizard's signal, one of them axed the bull. In an eye blink the bull was killed and slaughtered.

The offer was made, the Gods were happy, now it was the time to go back to the house and keep on celebrating.


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