Thursday, May 22, 2008


It is said that man and mithun were brothers. However, mithun was the lazy one and slept all day long while man toiled in the fields. All attempts to make the mithun work failed.
"You have to work, brother," man told the mithun.
"I don't feel like working. Let me take rest," the mithun said.
"If you don't work," man said, "will you eat grass?"
"I would eat grass rather than work," the lazy mithun retorted.
"In that case," man yelled at the mithun, exasperated, "We cannot live together. Go your own way."

The mithun realised the gravity of the situation, but still did not offer to work. He requested the man to let him live in the village, but man was adamant. "No way. You have to go away," he said.
"Where will I go, my brother?"
"You can go to the jungle as you wanted to eat grass!"
"I love you," the mithun said with tears in his eyes. "I cannot live without seeing you."

Man was touched, but was not ready to live with the mithun unless it worked. Seeing the man unmoved, mithun begged, "I will go to the forest, live there and eat grass. Can you please come to my place sometime to see me?"
"If I do that," the man said, "What will you do for me?"
"I will go to the places you cannot and even die for your cause."
Man agreed to this condition. Till today, he owns the mithun and goes to the jungle with salt to feed his estranged brother. In return, the mithun is sacrificed during festivals like Murung and Subu. They are sacrificed during other rituals as well.

On the occasion of Murung or Subu, the priest chants all day long telling the mithun, "We are sending you as a messenger to the other world where man cannot go. Don't hold me guilty since it was your own words. I am simply fulfilling the wishes you made in the days gone by."

No wonder the Apatanis consider the mithuns sacred and they are sacrificed only during very special occasions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Higher Secondary School

Ziro Higher Secondary School, Ziro. This is the institute which has produced scores of people of high calibre making their contributions in vaious walks of life throughout the country today. This was the feeder school for the whole of ertwhile Subansiri area comprising of today's Upper Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, Lower Subansiri and Papum Pare. If anybody is maintaining a list of institutions with historic significance, this is one.

Sadly, the school infrastructures are falling apart. The performance of students also have fallen to abysmally low status, though occasional exceptional students have managed to keep up its reputation. The work culture of teachers and attitudes of the studentts need urgent review. On the other hand, the communities which have received so much from the school need to start considering some kind of reciprocal gesture.

The school compound remains magnificent inspite of alleged encroachments by owners of land surrounding it. The compound occupies the best hillock in the whole of Ziro Valley.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dream Ziro

These are pictures of Circleville, a small unheard of village in Pendleton Country in West Virginia where I am putting up these few days. Walking these streets, my thoughts go back to the Apatani villages and the contrasts cannnot be more striking. It is not to say that one village is better than the other - but it makes one wonder, you know.

The similarity with the Apatani villages is that none of the houses in this village need to be locked when the owner goes out. Since everybody know each other, there is high degree of trust.

Did you notice the electric post? It is wooden. It striked me when I saw these wooden poles in Harrisonburgh near Washington DC in my first visit to US. These poles in the village is less striking, but gives a rural touch to the entire landscape.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pine Grove

Myolyang, or more specifically, Tajang Myolyang is referred to as Pine Grove. It is known for the richness with which nature presents itself. Along with Ziro Putu, the place is one of the oldest places where the seeds of modernity in Apatani area was sown. The Border Roads Organization had settled down in the serene locale at the outskirts of Ziro. The establishment was much bigger in the sixties and early seventies when it expanded from Lyembe near Lempia village to Ringa near Kiile Pakho. In fact, many of the people had their glimpse of a movie in the Cinema Hall at Lyembe. It is said that most of the establishments was dismantled when the bulk of the manpower was shifted during 1962 Indo-China war.

Today, the Rai houses the residential quarters of the officers and the Officers’ Mess while other facilities like the CSD Canteen, Health Post, accommodations for other officials are at Myolyang. Skeletal remains at Ringa today accommodate some laborers.

The place, however, is one of the most picturesque spots at Ziro area even today. The pine trees and bamboo gardens there are one of the healthiest and most well-maintained in the entire area.