Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

Paddy and millet are the two main crops of the Apatanis at Ziro. And they are the ones which are transplanted from their seed beds to the fields. While the millet seeds are sown in the kitchen gardens - yorlus and balus, the paddy seeds are sown in the midiñs. While the yorlus and balus are excellent examples of multi-crop farming, midiñs could be the opposite of it. It is used only for growing paddy seedlings. So, it is hardly used for two or three months a year. Other times of the year, it rests in a puddle of water and covered with often colorful layers of algae.

The sight of these picturesque midiñs reminds one of the future and of hope. It must be exactly because of this that everybody wishes each other every new year.

Happy New Year, 2010!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas again. Colorful stars can be seen glowing in many houses, though erratic power supply these days at Ziro is spoiling the fun.

I retrieved a statue of Mother Mary, strategically placed at a natural cave at St. Claret College at Salalya.

Merry Christmas to everybody!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wild Fruits

"What would I eat in the town?" a Solung man is said to have remarked when alloted a plot at Seppa and persuaded to leave the jungle. "The jungle provide us all the food we need." No truer words could be spoken. Wild fruits like bachiñ, taro and diirañ-sañkhañ/sañchi flash in the mind.

Diirañ-sañkhañ or sañchi is the favorite fruit for children. If one breaks it, it paints whatever it touches blood-red. When we used to go to jungles during our childhood to get such fruits and did not get as many as we wanted, we would paint our lips with even one or two. This would save face and prevent other friends who stayed back from making fun of us.

It is diirañ-sañkhañ/sañchi time now. It tastes as sweet as it used to decades back when I tasted it last.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jilañ on Indian Postage Stamp

At last, the traditional Apatani design in the jilañ has found its place in the Indian postage stamp along with Varanasi Brocade, Kanchipuram Silk and Kalamkari. More details can be found here.

The traditional textiles of the Apatanis had got the much needed boost in 1997 when the Apatani Cultural and Literary Society (ACLS) organized a traditional fashion contest entitled "Trendsetters". Since then, various designs have been adapted and used in various cloths.
Jilañ is the dress used by the priests during ceremonial occasions like the Murung and Subu. Mythology has it that the designs were copied from the color combinations of the peacock.

Apart from the jilañ, other traditional clothes include jig-jiro, jikhe, piisa-leñda, lañchañ abi, pyamiñ pulye and so on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Revisiting Talle Valley

Tharr...tharrr...tharrr. The sounds of breaking the ice in the bucket wake me up. It is already after 6.00 in the morning. I get up and peek outside. Gyayu is breaking the ice that had frozen in the bucket. As I look around, everything is coated in white. I am transported back to my childhood when Ziro used to be like this. I cannot help venturing outside and up in the hill nearby.

When we explore the valley in the day, I am certain that the Ziro valley must have been like this before our ancestors converted it into a more habitable place that we enjoy today. A sense of gloom overpower me. How hard they must have worked. What a struggle it must have been! Cutting down trees, aligning the irrigation channels.

This is Talle Valley. I am visiting the place after five years. Lots of changes. The track from Pange is better. The Range Officer is trying to make the road motorable. I doubt this is a good step, though. A beautiful and cosy camp house has been constructed. This, I think, is a welcome sign. It is good to get cosy after four hours of trekking.

Welcome to Talle Valley.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Revisiting Kardo Hills - III

Strange but true - the Shiva Linga in the Kardo Hills is said to be mentioned in the 1893 edition of Shiva Purana.

Shiva Purana was compiled by Sage Veda Vyas and is one of the eighteen important sacred Hindu texts. What lends credence to the claim of Kardo Hills connection with the Shiva Purana is that the discovery of a giant Linga in the Himalayas is predicted in the sacred book. As can be read in the third line from the bottom in the picture, the name Arunachal is mentioned in the text.

Whatever the fact, the site attracts different kinds of visitors and some permanent inhabitants like the pigeon here.

Revisiting Kardo Hills - II

An onlooker on the way to Kardo Hills. A bit tired.

Samples of floral diversity in the area.

A donation box donated by a believer.

Looking around.

Discover something new everytime you visit the Lord Shiva in the Kardo Hills.

Revisiting Kardo Hills - I

The Shiva Linga in the Kardo Hills continue to attract visitors. Apart from the religious ones, even nature lovers take a stroll on the trek for good reason.

Among the things one enjoy are some man-made ones like these:

And the nature has never been far behind. Here are some of its immaculate creations:

Welcome to Kardo Hills again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Clay pots

December is a time for frantic house constructions in the Apatani valley. It is time also for sacrificing of pigs reared so carefully throughout the year. For children, it is time for keeping an ear for the shrieks of the pigs so as to get a small share of boiled blood in the clay pots. One has, of course, to be from the same clan as the family sacrificing the pig.

Bamin village was known as the place where best quality clay pots were prepared. The art, sadly, seems to be disappearing as clay pots are being replaced by readymade utensils available in the market. We met a not-so elderly woman who recalls seeing clay pots being prepared in the past and nostalgically tried her hand at it. Obviously, the result was not so satisfactory as is evident from the pictures below. One pot is an old one and the other is the one moulded recently.

It is said that the food inside the clay pot loses little of its moisture as it is surrounded by steam, creating a tender and tasty dish. As water evaporates, the dish is not burnt so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until it is completely dry. And unlike boiling, nutrients are not leached out into the water.

The sacred blood of the pigs was, till recently, boiled in clay pots only, but this practice also is being paced out now. One wonders whether the present and future generations of our people will ever miss food cooked in clay pots.