The MYOKO festival is one of major festival of Apatani and may be one of longest Festival in the world, the preparation of festival start from last part of Oct and festival end on 19th April. The actual festival start from the evening of 20th March and end on 19th April. It is celebrated in rotation by village or cluster of village of Apatani’s valley, they are Hari-Bulla, Diibo-Hija and Hong. The year 2010-11 was belong to Hari-Bulla.
Due unavailability of proper written record, related to Myoko, the belief and practice in various event of Myoko varies from village; So attempt has been made here to pass the knowledge about belief and practice to younger generation. Comment is welcome from Critic.
The Major Event of Myoko Festival are:-
1. Biiding Lanii (Hunting of Monkey)
2. Lapang-Baboo Boniing (Collection of Lapang (Community platform) and Baboo(Wooden Pole))
3. Lapang Peniing-Baboo Achha Nii (Repair of Lapang and Erection of Baboo)
4. Nago Penii (Construction of Nago)
5. Sama Pinii (Inauguration of Myoko)
6. O Tanii (Entertainment to Guest)
7. Tapiir Liinii/Siiro Chenii (Invocation of Siiki)
8. Pingya Khunii/Alyi Lalo Nii (Offering of Pig)
9. Alii Taniing (Distribution of part of sacrificed pig)
10. Biinii Ajing Gyonii (Invitation of Friend from other village)
11. Ude Tiinii and Aji Agyang Riinii (Offering to Deities for household and paddy field)
12. Agyang Tuniing (Placement of Chestnut trees at Pamu Agyang)
13. Lapang Danyi Tuniing (Offering to Sun at Lapang)
14. Pamu Khunii (Offering at Pamu Agyang)
15. Takho Benii (Demarcation from Journey bound Deities)
16. Uie Alo Nii or Khellonii (Biding farewell and showing the way back to Deities)
17. Aji and Morey Eha Nii (Offering to God of Paddy Field and Forest)
18. Aempii Konii (Frying of Rice or Ending of Myoko)
1. BIIDING LANII (Last part of Oct or Early Nov)
The Myoko of Tanii start with hunt of Biedii Siibi (A varities of Monkey), the hunt for Siibistart earnestly after the completion of the harvesting. Siiki, whom Apatanii believe as brother and one of best friend of Tani. In those olden period, fierce competition was there between Tani, Siiki and others. In one of such competition, Tani and Siiki had climbed to the tree where Siiki was outwitted by Tani to grabe Loli Sanii (Pest tree) and let Him fall to Siiki Biidang (gorge) and Siiki remain there and was unwiling to return, Tani thought that it will not be possible to celebrate the Myoko without the participation of Siiki. So Tani offered Siiki with Mithun initially, for participation in Myoko, to which Siiki accepted but considering the enormous lost he is likely to lose by offering Mithun every Myoko; Again Tani outwitted/Compel Siiki to accept the Biedii Siibi (Monkey), Rubu Alyi (Pig) and Rubu Paro (Fowl) as offering for participation in Myoko. So, the hunting of Biedii Siibi has been going since time immemorial.
Pic.1(a): Biedii Siibi
Pict.1(b): Returning from Hunt
Pict.1(c): Biiding Lanii or Hunter
While going for hunting, you should move so secretly that even your wife should not know about yours plan for hunting. After hunt of Siibi, a eldest member usually carries the monkey, Tapiir (Sprout/twigs of cane) may be collected on the way back. Back at the village, all the hunting party goes round the village shouting ‘Ho-Ho’.
2. COLLECTION OF LAPANG AND BABOO (Nov-Dec)
Pict.2(a) Baboo Boniing
Pic.2(b): Lapang Boniing
Pict.2(c): Lapang-Baboo Boteh Nii
Every village who celebrate the Myoko in turn has to repair Lapang (Community platform) and erect new Baboo (Wooden Pole) by clan or each cluster of clan. The Lapangis believed to be male and the Baboo as female. The Lapang and Baboo are made with selective species of trees, some species used for Lapang are Tapo /Dolo, Sampiir, Sankhu, Salyo etc. and Kiira, Ruing , Tara, Tapo for Baboo. During the collection of Lapang and Baboo, the participation is almost cent percent, from young to Old, girls and boys, female and male.
(The Dusu clan is believed to be the eldest clan within Hari, so the collection of Lapang and Baboo of other clan of Hari, follows only after the Dusu Clan has collected theirs.)
3. ERECTION OF LAPANG AND BABOO (Last part of Dec or Early Jan)
Pict.3(a): Lapang Peniing
Pict.3(b): Babo Achha Nii
Repairing and addition of additional pieces of Lapang is normally done in the last part of December or in early Jan, depending on the likely of performance of Subu or Murungritual in that Lapang. The time for erection of Baboo varies from village to village, Some village erect their Baboo along with Lapang in month of Dec or early Jan, but some village erect the Baboo in the early part of Mar only. The pillar used for support to Lapang are too used with the selective species of tree only, some are Taamo, Kiira etc, each male member has to contribute Lapang Tuli (Pillar for Lapang).
Baboo Benii, This was acrobatic performance after the erection of Baboo (especially during Myoko Anyo) in which man would sit on Boha; One end of the Boha would be connected at top end of Baboo and other end would be at ground at about 20 to 50mtrs away depending upon the Height of Baboo. A man sitting on Boha would move up and down on tensioned Boha.
4. NAGO PENII (Mar)
Pict.4(b): Part of Nago
Nago is small hut with varied decoration, normally located at the centre of village and this is one of most sacred place in Tanii society; Nago is constructed by elders of the village and young one would contribute the Tapo (Varities of Plant), it is constructed two or three days ahead of Sama Pinii. The Hari has two Nago, One is called Hao Nago and other is Tasso Nago.
(The Mudo and Gyati Clan participate with Tasso clan at time of Biding lanii for Tasso Nago, but they participate Hao party at time of Siiro Chenii or Tapiir Liinii at Hao Nago.)
5.SAMA PINIING (20th Evening)
Pict.5: Sama Pinii
The Sama Piniing may be considered as the inaugural ceremony of Myoko or announcement of Myoko celebration; On this occasion, God/Deity (Ato Dewb and Raru, Kiirii, Kilo, Siki and others) and Humans are welcomed to the concern village for participation in Myoko by Nyibu (Priest) on behalf of clan or cluster of clan. The sama is stacking of Sampe Yasang (Sampe yasang has to be Pepu Sampe (For Hari)), which is considered as sacred. Later on it is used during Aempii Konii. Sama Piniing is performed at the residence/house of the Yugyang Ato. Womenfolk of each household would come to Yugyang ato house and would serve ‘O’ to the member present there.
6. “O” TANII (20th Evening to 22nd Afternoon)
From 20th Evening to 22nd Evening, the friends from other village are invited to participate in Myoko, They are offered with O, Tapyo and Kaji at the house/residence of every household of the Myoko celebrating villages. In olden days, before cheap availability of Beefs and Chicken. Roasted remains of dead Mithun or cow, Lyima Harkhu, Piita, Siiding yo, Siire yo etc was offered along with Tapyo (Local Alo) and Alo(Salt) but Piita, Siire, Siiding has become a rare so it is out of menu now. Now a days, the Tanii has mingled with outsider like any other community of the world, so the participation in Myoko has become broader and the necessity for changes has become inevitable. So, you will findByayung Kaji, Paro Yo, Alyi Yo, Whisky, Beer, etc in abundance; Modern Apatani and Hindi song (Old and New) has almost replaced the Ayu and guests are welcomed without any distinction. The presentation of O and Kaji to guest continues till the Tapiir Liinii/Siiro Chenii.
Khiibo Gyonii, person with caliber in Miji alongwith a Nyibu would be invited at host village, where a pierce competition of Ayu would be held. Khiibo would be called in following day of Sama Piniing.
(Even in those days of Revenge, Apatani would not take revenge or hurt on enemies who is participating in Myoko).
7. TAPIIR LIINII OR SIIRO CHENII(22nd Evening)
Pict.7(a): Tapiir Liinii
Pict.7(b): Tapiir Liinii
Pict.7(c): Priest Invoking Siiki
On this day, the Siiki, the friend of Tani, and others benevolent God is called up in this world to participate in the Myoko (It is believed that Malevolent Deity may also arrive with benevolent God); Siiki is offered with Alyi (Pig) and Paro (Fowl), called Rubu Alyi and Rubu Paro respectively, these are smear with rice powder by lady who come in full traditional dress. Nyibu would sit inside the Nago with skull of Siibi with Tapiir (Sprout/twigs of cane) and Tajiir (Varities of Bamboo) inserted into nostril of skull.Nyibu would chant hymns to invoke Siiki and other benevolent God. On this occasion only male member would participate in Tapiir Liinii. The people would move around village and some would surround Nago and hop until the arrival of Siiki; the arrival of Siiki is indicated by the vibration of Tapiir which were put in Siibi’s nostril ; Once Siiki and other arrives, people would put Tapiir all around the Nago. Tapiir has to be Taser (varities of Cane) and it has to be branch.
On this day, it is believed that, along with Siiki and other benevolent God, the spirit of Hunted wild cat or human being would arrive in this world, so the person who has killed Wild Cat or Human being are to perform the Ropi ritual like other time of Ropi ritual including the dressing styles. Otherwise they may be harm by spirit of hunt, which Apatani term as ‘Igii Miinii’.
8.(i) PINGYA KHUNII OR ALYI LALO NII (23rd Morning)
Pict.8(a): Alyi Supung Nii
Pingya Khunii is offering of Alyi (Pig) in the respective clan’s yugyang to Uie(Deity/God). The pig are offered to all the benevolent God who had arrived along with Siiki a days before for their well being. Some do offered with wishes for their well being or with some particular wishes. Yugyang Ato, are compulsory to bring Alyi at Yugyang (May be for Hari only). On this occasion ,normally, new couple or the first timer to the Myoko are ask to bring pig and wife has to smear rice powder to Alyi, since the new Nyahii (Wife) arrived here in full traditional dresses , so most of clan member would be there to watch newNyahii.
In olden days, only new Nyahii, who are yet have children would come up in full traditional dresses. The elderly women who has children may come carrying their kids (only male) atYugyang for Supung Nii with normal dresses.
It is decided in ahead through omens of chicken liver (Alyi Pachu Koniing) who, husband or wife, would observe the associated taboos. Dokho Pa means, husband has to observe the taboos so the pig which are bought at Yugyang has to be poured with rice unlike Siibo Pa, in which rice powder has to be smear. The Pig are marked with Sokha (thread made of cane) for Dokho Alyi. It is compulsory for husband of Yugyang Ato to observe the associated Taboos.
8(ii). ALYI AHA PURNII (23rd)
Pict.8(c): Alyi Aha Purnii
The day of Pingya Khunii is brisk period for all, especially the Nyibu and Aha Purnii (One who sacrifice the Pig by plucking the heart). After recital of hymn by Nyibu at Yugyang, the pig are bought back to owner house/residence where again some puja has to be perform and after that pig are sacrificed by plucking the heart and this is done by the elderly people who shall not have or had double spouse; those person are called ‘Ada’.
Pict.8(d): Alyi Barnii
The log or Alyi Ragyang(Normally Kiira) with which pig are carried is considered as sacred so it is used at times of Aempii Konii like that of log of Sama Pinii Nanii. (Mudang Tage place that log in Danyi Agyang).
9. ALII, ARBIE, YIHO AND OTHERS (23rd)
Pict.9(a): Alii(Kobu and Koro)
Alii is skin with fat portion, the one portion is given to the maternal uncle of husband and other side is given to the maternal uncle of wife. Those Alii is again divided into two part and is shared by two uncle, as Kobu and Koro. In the picture above, the right side is forKobu and left one is for Koro.
Pict.9(b): Arbie and Yiho
Arbie is also, lowest skeletol with one ribs, part of pig, this Arbie is given to the eldest sister of the clan.
Hedu is filled up with Yiho and is given to the eldest sister of wife.
Yiho is the fat portion surrounding the kidneys, Yiho is given to brother of wife who has taken the couple’s Lache (One of the Brother-in-law ).
Ading (Head) is normally given to eldest person of the clan. But under certain circumstances it may be given to other clan elder.
Nephew has the privilege to ask for Yila (pig’s leg) from maternal uncle (From any of Maternal Clan member).
10. BIINII AJIN GYONII (24th and 25th or May Extend to 26th )
Pict.10(a): Biinii Ajing
Pict.10(c): Ala Rita Nanii
Biinii Ajing is friends from other village that were established for purpose that they would help each other in emergency like fire accident, lost of mithun, Dapo, Subu-Murung (Dulu Koda Giinii pa) etc. Biinii Ajing are invited to one house for lunch, familiarizes each other and gift in form of ‘O’ (in raw), Alo (Salt), Tapyo, Ala Tita Nanii, Yo Aso (Smoked Pork skin along with fats ) were given to Biinii Ajing in those days (these days cash has replaced Yo Aso). The Invitation of Biinii Ajing start on following day of Pingyang Khunii,Ajing may be called withing 2 days but invitation would continues till 3 days if one has long list of friends i.e (24 to 26 Mar).
11. UDE TIINII AND AJI AGYANG RIINII(26th or 27th Onwards)
Pict.11(a): Danyi and Yullo Agyang
Pict.11(b): Kharung Agyang
Ude Tiinii is offering to various benevolent God for well being of house or is performance of puja in the individual house for their well being. During this puja, benevolent God are offered with chicken and egg for blessing. It is believed that Ronsa(spirit of unnatural death) do also arrive during Myoko, So at first they are offered with piece of Yo Aso before other puja starts . Apatani believes that there are many benevolent God like Kharungwhich is perform for one’s power and strength, Rinii Rintii for well being of yours livestock (Chicken, pig, dog), Yaping Chantung for your well being, Meping also for your livestock (Mithun and Cow) etc. This hectic puja continues for some 5 to 6 days. The performance of puja usually end at Nyibu and Yugyang ato’s house.
In those olden days, Ude Tiinii would start only after Agyang Tunii (placement of Kiira at Pamu Agyang) at Pamu Agyang and only those who sacrifice pig (Alyi Lalo Nii) would perform the Ude Tiinii; Now a days, Ude Tiinii start just after Ajing Gyonii and is done by household irrespective of sacrificial of pig.
In olden days, Girls would gathered at house of those who has not sacrificed pig (Alyi Lalo Manii) as taboo was not there for them and would prepare, Niibu-Tano (weaving etc), Diisi Diilo(Rice Husking).
Pict.11(c): Aji Agyang
Ajin Agyang Riinii also start just after Ajing Gyonii, Alter would be prepared at Paddy field and Harnyang Pubyang would be offered with a chicken for pest free grow of Andi and Sarse. Not all the paddy field has Agyang.
12. AGYANG TUNIING (29th Afternoon)
Pict.12(a): Agyang Tuniing
Pict.12(b): Agyang Tuniing
Agyang refers Kiira Sanii (Chestnut trees) with top portion kept with leaves which are bought to Pamu Agyang and this Kiira is used as fencing for Pamu Agyang or is erected in straight line. Pamu Agyang is erected by respective clan member. It is believe that Suum Myoro Uie reside at Pamu Agyang. Pamu Agyang would cause une/aha (Contact Dermatities) if you don’t contribute Kiira Agyang and if Pamu Agyang branches are cut then ensure that you smear with rice powder else une/aha is sure to come (that is calledAgyang Miidang Nii).
13. LAPANG DANYI TUNIING (29th Noon)
Pict.13: Lapang Danyi Tunii
The Danyi Agyang is erected at Lapang and the Danyi Tuniing is offered on day of Pamu Khunii. Here also Danyi is offered with a Chicken.
14. PAMU KHUNII (29th Night)
Pict.14: Pamu Khunii
Pamu Khunii is performed after 9 days from Sama Pinii or 7 days from Pingya Khunii. This is perform at the residence of Pamu Ato and Pamu Agyang . Here again a pig is sacrificed and is offered to Suum Myoro Uie , It is believed that Suum Myoro Uie reside at Pamu Agyang. Offering is made for protection from Fire Accident, Doli-Saring (Disease). liver of sacrificed pig is observed /looked in for clan future.
15. TAKHO BENII(Depend on Ude Tiinii)
Pict.15(a): Takho Benii
Pict.15(b): Takho Benii
Pict.15(c): Takho Benii
After Pamu Khunii , the Ude Tinii continues. After finish of Ude Tinii, then God or Myoko Uie is bid farewell ; Takho Benii is placing of Bambo strip around the Nago, Pamu Agyang, Lapang, Babo, Nesu(Granary) and Residence . This placement of Takho, notify the journey bound Myoko Uie that the Myoko is over and not to stray into the demarcated places.
The Takho has to be placed in sequence, i.e it start from Tajang and then to Reru- Kalung and then Hari. Even at the Hari, the placement of Takho has to start from entry of village from Kalung ‘s side. It may be understood that , while departing from this world, theMyoko Uie moves from north to south direction.
Pict.15(d): Myoko Kaji
The preparation of delicious Myoko Kaji start a day after Pamu Khunii and those who has performed the Ude Tinii.
16. UIE ALO NII OR KHELLO NII(In the night of Takho Benii)
On the midnight of Takho Benii, The ritual called Ui Alo Nii is perform, This is perform at the house/residence of Yugyang Ato. Egg with tooth pick size of Bamboo are placed on the lower jaw of pig called Sho, along with Egg, these are placed on Niji Yanii. The Sho ofYughang Ato, Pamu Ato and Hiigyang Ato has to be bought. This Uie Alo Nii is nothing but showing the Myoko Uie, his way back to their home with appeal to all the benevolent God for prosperous life. Later, the stick and egg are buried at Yugyang.
In evening, the couple, who had sacrificed Pig at Yugyang should bring/offer Yo Aso to theMyoko’s Nyibu; The size of Yo Aso varies from 3 to 6 inch in breath (these days Yo Aso can be taken back on cash payment of Rs.200/- if Nyibu wishes so). The women folk of the clan offer O to the member present at time of Uie Alo Nii.
17. EHA NII(Following day of Takho Benii)
Pict.7(a): Konchi Aji Eha Nii
On the following day of Uie Alo Nii. God of Aji (Harnyang Pubyang) is offered with Kaji, piece of meat of pig or chicken with some Poi in Niji Yanii for bumper harvest (Mithun or Cow should not be used). This is called as Konchi Aji Eha Nii. Those who has sacrificed pig would offer above items to Harnyang Pubyang a day before Aempii Konii, it is called Alo Aji Eha Nii.
Pict.17(b): Bije-Sadi Eha Nii
At Bije and Sadi , Pungu Hure Uie are offered with Yila(Pig’s leg) or Hulyi Yo, Papu(Egg), Ambing(Rice) and O over Niji Yanii with plead that poisonous reptile are not to be seen at Bije and Sadi, these offering are made in forenoon.
Pict.17(c): Kiile Miinii
Pict.17(d): Ngiilyang Ngiiyi
In the noons, all the clan goes for the hunting of Ngiilyang Ngiiyi (Types of Fish)which is required for breaking of Taboo imposed at beginning of Myoko on consumption of Fish. And some male member goes for hunting of wild animal deep inside the jungle on belief that Pungu Hure Uie would reciprocate them for Yila with big hunt (Kiiru Moniing) and hunting may done till Aempii Konii.
Pict.17(e): Mari Sanii
In morning or evening, while returning from Eha Nii, Female would come back with bunch of leafs of Mari Yasang(Types of Tree) which would be placed in entrance of house in both sides.
18. AEMPII KONII (30th Days of Sama Piinii or 19th April)
Aempi Konii is frying of Rice. While frying the rice, one may ensure to use a piece of log from Sama or log (Alyi Ragyang) used for carrying the Alyi for burning fire. With the consumption of fried rice, restriction on consumption of peas, tomato etc are lifted and there is no more restriction due to Myoko. Moreover fried rice are offered to God in front of both door of house. Aempii Konii is perform on 30th days from Sama Pinii.
(In those days, ring would me made on Bamboo with Yaso for counting the days of progress of festival before the availability of Modern Calendar.)
19. YUGYANG ATO
Pict.19: Yugyang Ato
Yugyang Ato is owner of the house where all common ritual, like Sama Pinii, Pamu Khunii, Uie Alo Nii etc are performed.
When Yugyang was created for first time; Who would be the Yugyang Ato was decided by observing the omen of chicken liver and once decided, his descendent has to carry over the Yugyang Ato’s duty.
Yugyang Ato is one who has restless participation in almost event during the continuance period of Myoko. Wife of Yugyang Ato has to smear rice powder at time of Sama Piniibesides handling huge gathering at that time; At times of Pamu Khunii also, they have to remain awake till midnight for smearing of rice powder at Pamu Agyang and Again they have to remain awake till midnight on occasion of Uie Alo Nii/Khello Nii ritual and here also they have to satisfy the gathering with hospitality, though ‘O’ are bought from clan member. These are the some cumbersome load they have to handle in addition to other affairs of Myoko.