( By Manzar Alam, Founder Editor, www.arunachal24.in, Former Bureau Chief (Northeast), Zee News )- Tawang Festival is a mirror of Monpa Culture and Traditions, also a very good way to promote tourism. In the festival, tourists get a chance to know and understand the beauty, culture and other traditions of Arunachal Pradesh specially Monpa tribes.
Buddhist traditions and their culture are also made a part in this festival so that tourists coming on this occasion can join this festival to see and understand Buddhist traditions closely. During the Tawang Festival, you can enjoy many things here at once. The roads are decorated with colorful flags. There is a different vibe in the local markets as well.
This festival is organized every year by the tourism department of Arunachal Pradesh. This year the festival will run from November 4 to November 6. The festival begins with a street carnival, which is the main attraction of the festival, locally called ‘Sebang’.
The most attractive thing in this road show for which thousands of tourists come to Tawang on this occasion are the traditional dances of Monpa tribes.
There are many tribes living in Arunachal Pradesh. It is interesting to know that almost every tribe has a special dance style. Whether it is pleasing to God, celebrating the new harvest or wishing for good health and prosperity, these tribes celebrate every occasion through traditional dances.
The attractiveness of these dances increases due to the colorful clothes, ornaments and masks. Whenever there is talk of art culture of Arunachal Pradesh, mask dance must be discussed there.
You must be aware that every dance has a folk tale which is presented through dance. If you already have complete knowledge about these dances, then you will be able to enjoy it well. Here are few famous dance of Monpa Tribe.
Yak dance is an Asian folk dance in which a dancer in the form of a yak dances with a man riding on his back. The Masked Dancer represents a family known as Theopa Gyali, who are believed to have discovered the yak hundreds of years ago with the help of a magical bird. Yak dance is performed to honour the yak. In 2017, yak dance was featured in the tableau of Arunachal Pradesh at India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations and was also awarded the first prize as the best tableau.
AJI LHAMU DANCE
Aji Lhamo is one of the most prominent folk dance practiced by the Monpa tribe of Tawang. It is basically the Tibetan version of the Hindu epic Ramayana. There are mainly five characters in this dance drama. Nyapa is the central character and Nyao is the antagonist character. Lhamu and Lham are two female characters and Gyali is another character. The characters have mythological origins. Lhamu is an angel from heaven, who came to earth and later became the queen of Gyali. This dance also depicts the grand ceremony of the marriage of King Choge Norzang and Lhamu. This dance is performed during the Losar Festival.
SNOW LION DANCE
Snow Lion Dance is a popular form of dance. This dance is performed during festivals and any auspicious occasions. The lion costume for the dancers to wear in this dance is made entirely by hand using threads. The dance usually consists of two pairs of lions. Two dancers are fitted in a lion costume. A dancer stands vertically upright, displaying the head of a lion. While the second dancer lays down, presenting the lion’s body, his hands are on the hips of the first dancer. In this dance, two dancers dressed in a lion’s dress have a wonderful rhythm.
Monastic dance is an important part of the religious rituals of the Monpa people. This dance is performed with great holiness and spiritual pursuit by selected monks of Tawang Monastery during the Torgya Festival, which lasts for three days. The most important attraction of the dancer’s dress participating in this dance is their mask. The mask is carved on a wooden strap and then painted in different colors to give it a perfect look. They are often twice the size of a human face. The costumes used in the dance are mostly made of brocade and silk. A dancer representing a high-ranking deity usually consists of a long, wide-sleeved gown (called a phodka) and a ponchu-like tippet (called a stoed le). Some dancers wear a circular breast-plate called melong on their chest, which is the ‘seed’ syllable (sa bon) of the deity, which the dancer recognizes. The weapons and other objects that the dancers carry in their hands are very special.
The war dance, or war dance is locally known as Arpuchham Arpo Cham. Arpo means war or groom and chham dance means dance. The Monpas of Mon Tawang perform war dances in every village to drive away evil spirits from their surroundings, their locality and village, and to appease the supernatural forces. The Monpa still believe in that legacy and believe in the existence of supernatural forces and spirits. Apart from this there are other dances which are performed on this occasion.
Apart from the road show in Tawang Festival, there is also a stage program in which apart from Northeast, artists from other states of the country also present their programs.
HOW TO GET INNER LINE PERMIT ( ILP )
Friends, let us tell you here that to go to Tawang, you will need Inner Line Permit ( ILP ). Which can be obtained from the office of the Resident Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh at Delhi, Guwahati or Tezpur. You can also generate Inner Line Permit online from the official website of Arunachal Government at arunachalilp.com.
HOW TO REACH TAWANG
Tawang can be reached from other parts of the country via Guwahati and Tezpur. There are daily flights from Delhi to Guwahati. Apart from this, flights to Guwahati are also available from Kolkata and other places. At the same time Rajdhani Express train also goes to Guwahati.
If you have chosen the train to go to Tawang, then let us tell you that the nearest railway station to Tawang is Tezpur Railway Station which is located at a distance of 330 km from Tawang. You can reach Tezpur by train from any city in Assam. After reaching the station, you can take a taxi from outside the station or reach Tawang by Arunachal Local Transport (APSTC).
If you wants travel to Tawang by Bus , then let us tell you that Tawang is well connected by road to all the major cities of the North-East. You can hire a bus or taxi from Tezpur, Guwahati, Assam to reach Tawang.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TAWANG
The weather in Tawang remains normal for most of the year. The best time to visit Tawang is from March to October. The weather here during this time is quite pleasant.