The celebration of “Nyokum Yullo” festival begins with ceremonious reception of priests followed by flag hoisting at numerous celebration centres across Arunachal Pradesh. Nyokum is a festival celebrated by the Nyishi tribe and is celebrated for harmony and prosperity of the people.
The Word Nyokum has been derived from the combination of two words – Nyok means land (earth) and Kum means collectiveness or togetherness. Therefore, the Nyokum festival may very well be interpreted as inviting all the Gods and Goddesses of the universe, with the Nyokum Goddess as the principal deity, to a particular venue at a particular time. The festival is commonly celebrated by the people from all class and walk of life for better productivity, prosperity and happiness of all human beings on earth.
The main prayer structure of the Nyishi is made of bamboo, called the yugang. Alongside the yugang sacrificial animals are tethered. Like cows, Mithuns and goats. Often one finds small chickens hung from bamboo poles of the yugang. The nyubh or the traditional priest specifies the number and kinds of animals for sacrifice, or any other offering to be made. There are no idols in this worship. Neither is there any permanent structure. Besides the animal sacrifice, beer made from millet seeds and rice paste is used.
People turn up wearing their traditional clothes during this time. The men dress in a cotton eri robe draped from the shoulder and reaching the thighs. From their neck hangs a variety of bead jewellery necklaces. Often semi precious stones like turquoise adorn these necklaces. The men’s attire is topped by a bamboo woven cap on the head. This cap is decorated with feathers or furs of wild animals. The beak of the hornbill is a favorite ornament for the traditional cap. The women also dress in their finery of par ej, earrings bead necklaces, topped with a headdress made of finely scaped bamboo.
There is singing and dancing before the head priest or nyubh comes with his attendants to perform the main ritual. Guests are welcomed with rice paste powder, and opo or millet seed beer which is scooped in dried gourd ladles. The song and dance are performed in a group. Usually men and women hold hands in a circular form and sing and dance these lines Nyokum bo tapa debe. And sometimes men dance mock fights with dao (short sword) and shield made of animal hide.
Arunachal Pradesh Governor JP Rajkhowa has greeted the people of the state on the occasion of Nyokum festival. He further expressed hope that the celebration will invoke the blessings of Ane Nyokum for peace, harmony, well being and prosperity of the people of the state. The Governor further wished that the youth, community leaders and torchbearers of the state will appreciate it and internalize the constructive and inspiring values of the cultural pluralism.
Chief Minister’s Greetings :
Chief Minister Kalikho Pul in his message said that Nyokum Yullo provides an opportunity to the members of the Nyishi community to display the cultural richness and the unique but rich traditional heritage of the state. Stating that the enormity of state’s cultural diversity and pluralism is its singular hallmark and the foundation of its unity and integrity, the CM wished that the Nyishi community being one of the largest community of the state covering seven districts and some pockets of Assam would become the torchbearers of the society while the youths would continue to promote the positive values of the state’s cultural pluralism.