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Tribal Circuit

Buddhist Circuit

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Language, Religion & Rituals

Arunachal Paradesh LadyArunachal has 26 major tribes and many sub-tribes living in 3649 scattered villages. People are Mongoloid stock but each tribe has certain distinct characteristics in language, dress & costume. They have a rich cultural heritage. The People are simple, friendly and cordial. Their colourful festivals are manifestations of their faith and belief.

The society is patriarchal and the fundamental laws of inheritance with variations are not rare. They follow endogamy and strictly observe the rule of clan exogamy. Polygamy is socially sanctioned and is practiced by most of them. The people are highly democratic, and each tribe has its own organised institutions that maintain law and order, fix on disputes and take up all activities for the welfare of the tribes and the villages.

The members constituting these organisations are selected by the people.

The entire population of the state can be divided into three cultural groups on the basis of their socio-politico-religious affinities. It has been found that the tribes of Arunachal are integrated into group and independent of each other. The common denominators are that the pattern of lifestyle of each is the same and those they follow the same occupation; the societies are casteless; the societies are governed by chiefs and the adults were grouped according to their age for distinct social functions. The young are organised around dormitory institutions to follow the instructions of the older generation.

The most striking features of the Padam and Minyong society are their highly organized political institution represented by the Kebang or village council and the dormitory. They are active and expert weavers. Along the international frontier in the Tuting area live the KHAMBAS. They are Buddhists and lovers of dance. The Membas are found along the northern border of Upper Siang district. They are by religion Buddhist.

To the north along the banks of the Sipi river extends the country of the TAGINS. They are also sometimes known as Moyas because of their preference for the shady mountain for their villages. Agriculture is their main occupation.

The Sherdukpens live mainly in the two villages of Rupa and Shergaon in West Kameng district. They are divided into two classes, the Thongs and the Gheos. The Sherdukpens are good agriculturalists and traders. Their religion is an interesting blend of Buddhism and religious beliefs. They are the gentle and cultured. Monpas of West Kameng Districts follow Buddhism.

In Arunachal Pradesh till as late as 1970 a mixed Assamese was the only language for mutual communication among the different tribal communities. This hybrid language is known as Nagamese and still serves as the lingua franca in Arunachal Pradesh.


Of the indigenous Arunachalee there are several religious groups. There are the animatist religions, Buddhist tribes, Hindu tribes, some Christians and a minuscule minority of Muslims.

Buddhism of both the Mahayana and Hinayana section is practiced among the tribes of Tawang and West Kameng, West Siang and Lohit. The centre of Mahayana Buddhism in Arunachal is Tawang monastery, founded 370 years ago and now one of the largest in Asia. The Hinayana sect has its headquarters at Chowkam. These Buddhist tribes have a written history and set places of worship. They have an organised priesthood and sophisticated ritual, temples, images, sacred texts and an organised priesthood. The Adis and Abo-Tanis who follow Doni Poloism worship of the sun and moon.

Arunachal Pradesh has three belts of regions. The Monpas and Sherdukpen tribes follow the Lama Buddhism.

Khamptis of Lohit district follow Mahayana Buddhism as they are supposed to have migrated from Thailand.

The Noctes and Wanchoos in Tirap district follow Hinduism because of the close association with the Assam valley. The rest of the tribes maintain their ancient beliefs.



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