Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Apatani Sacred Groves
The God and man used to live together. Then, the man decided to migrate to a better place to live. The God asked the man to let them accompany to the new place. The man declined, “I want to live alone in peace.”
“You will need somebody to protect you. I will do that,” the God offered.
“In that case, you will live outside my village.”
“Agreed. And you will not disturb my dwelling place outside your village.”
Thus a deal was struck. The God was allowed to build His dwelling place outside the villages of man. This is the place we call rantii – the sacred grove, today. They are located at the periphery of the Apatani villages.
During times of war in the past, the people used to first go to the rantiis and invoke the God, their protector, for the welfare of the village. Offerings were made to the God and horns were blown.
The God till today lives in the tall trees we can see at the periphery of almost all the villages. There are rantii at Tajang, Kalung, Hari, Hong, and Michi Bamin. I still don’t know if other villages have rantiis as well.
In times of peace as well, most of the ritual offerings are made in the rantiis. These places are feared as well as revered. The ecology there is never disturbed by the people. There are instances of adverse events befalling the persons who had occasionally cut trees or damaged the rantii in other ways.
Because the ecology of the rantiis are never disturbed, they are always the primary forests. They retain the trees, plants and shrubs that were native to the place centuries back. This is the significance of these sacred groves from ecological point of view.
We will talk about these sacred groves in different villages as we go ahead in our journey.