From the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ St Claret College-Ziro Students Mesmerize ‘Aloysians’!

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From the ‘Land’ of the Rising Sun’ aka ‘Land of the Dawn-lit-Mountains’ -Arunachal Pradesh Saint Claret College located in Ziro Students Mesmerize ‘Aloysians’ (St Aloysius College, Mangaluru Students) with their Cultural and traditional Performances

Mangaluru: Popularly known as ”Land of the Rising Sun’ aka ‘Land of the Dawn-lit-Mountains’, Arunachal Pradesh is India’s remotest state and the first Indian soil to greet the rising sun. Located on the northeastern tip of India with its borders touching China, Bhutan and Burma (Myanmar), this beautiful land is endowed with a dazzling array of flora and fauna that is sure to allure any tourist. The misty hills, sparkling rivers, and gurgling waterfalls add charm to the beauty of this incredible land.

The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is truly varied in the sense that the state has 26 major tribes including sub-tribes. Every tribe has their own unique set of traditions and customs. The major tribes of Arunachal are: Adi, Galo, Aka, Apatani, Nyishi, Tagins, Bori, and Bokar etc The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is truly varied in the sense that the state has 26 major tribes including sub-tribes. And in this beautiful land, Saint Claret College, Ziro. (SCCZ) is located at a picturesque and serene 20-acre green spread at Salaya, in the Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh.

A Degree College at Ziro had been a long-cherished dream of the people at Lower Subansiri, very specially, the people of Ziro Valley. The Claretian Missionaries gladly responded to this genuine need of the people and established the college in 2003. The College is permanently affiliated with Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar, and is recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under sections 2(f) and 12(B) of the UGC Act. The College is a member of the Claretian Consortium of Educational Institutions, Xavier Bðard of Higher Education in India (XBHEI), All India Association of Christian Higher Education (AIACHE), and has MoUs with other institutions. The college was accredited with a Grade ‘A’ by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2016. The College has a strength of over 1000 students.

A group of students, thirty in number along with their college principal and management staff from Saint Claret College-Ziro who were on a South India Tour started on 2 January and ending on 18 January 2024, made a stop at Mangaluru, to give their traditional and cultural performances, calling them as ‘CULTURAL AMBASSADORS’ at St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru on Tuesday, 9 January 2024. The group has already toured Goa and will travel to Hassan, and other places, and return to their hometown from Bengaluru on 18 January 2024.

The 30 students, joined by their Principal, Rev Dr Allwyn Mendoz (originally from Pakshikere in the outskirts of Mangaluru, who has been the principal there for ten years); Dr Ms Ordetta Mendoza (Academic Planning & Development in-charge); Fr Dexy Alex Tharappel (Member of Management Committee); Ms Jamroi Rera (Faculty); Horrething Lungleny (Faculty) and Ms Agatha H (Faculty) were given a warm welcome by Rev Dr Praveen Martis SJ- Principal of St Aloysius College, Mangaluru; Dr Alwyn D’Sa- Registrar; Ms Shilpa D’Souza-Dean, H R department; and college student council members.

The programme began with a prayer song by the St Aloysius College Choir, followed by a welcome address by Manuel Souza-Faculty in English at St Aloysius. The formal function of the host college was compered by Rohan Danny (Jt secretary of the Students council) and a vote of thanks by Ms Blanche Rodrigues (VP of the Students Council). The programme was then continued by Kenna Pertin (III BA) and Ms Nyayir Riba (II BA), from St Claret College, who compered the cultural programme, very professionally and meticulously.

As the evening’s curtain rose, in an enchanting voyage through the diverse cultures of Arunachal Pradesh, the audience embarked on this cultural odyssey together. In the spirit of unity in diversity, the comperes invited the audience to immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions and customs of AP state, to become a reminder of the beauty that lies within Arunachal Pradesh’s cultural mosaic.

To unfurl this magical journey, the first performers: the Nyishi dancers, performed two traditional dances. First, the Rikam Pada: a dance for calling on bounty and fortune performed during harvesting season. Second, the Buya: an act of appraisal and gratitude towards the mountain spirits called “Uyi”, performed during events of celebration such as weddings and festivals. Next, the Arunachali team masterfully intertwines tradition and modernity in their soulful song: a tapestry of vibrant tribal cultures and traditions. A melodic mix of varying folk sounds, the song is performed in three tribal tongues telling tales of love, war, nature and the supernatural.

Moving on, the Ponung performers took the stage. This mesmerising dance is native to the Adi tribes of the Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts. Performed exclusively by women as they circle a chanteur known as the “Miri Abu”, thrusting along with the clanging beats of the Yoksa, the Ponung dance is an invocation of bountiful harvest and communal welfare. The next performance was by the Galos, embedded in the districts of Lower Siang, West Siang, Lepa Rada and Upper Subansiri to showcase their energetic traditional dance which they perform during their festival called Mopin where they call upon their parted brothers and sisters to profusely come together and worship the god of nature for prosperity and enhancement of health.

“Games and sports are an important part of life” is a sentiment that all cultures share. No matter how different they may be, the communal need for playing and sporting remains universal, which rings true for the tribal communities in Arunachal Pradesh too. To showcase some of the traditional sports, student Chukhu Durum took over the stage, followed by the Apatani dance (Pakhu Itu) performing on stage] The captivating Pakhu Ittu dance is a cherished Apatani tradition. In the scenic Ziro plateau, the first paddy seedlings were believed to be a gift from Abotani’s wife. This exquisite dance showcases how the diligent children protected the seedlings from the birds Pakhu, and Pagiyaru. “Pakhu Ittu” is also performed during the Dree festival.

The Bamboo dance is a captivating and complex Indian art form that is widespread across varying cultures in the North-east. The Wancho form of it is yet another beautiful take on this centuries-old tradition, which was shown by a video presentation. From the scenic Mishmi hills come the Idu Mishmis who celebrate the festival of Reh: a celebration of new tidings brought on by welcoming the Idu new year. The Idu-Mishmi dance performance showcased the incredible enthusiasm and communal harmony of the Idu Mishmis.

Tourism is a steadily growing industry in Arunachal Pradesh. The enthralling environments and enchanting experiences of our state prove to be an untouched reservoir. The untapped potential of Arunachal Pradesh is what makes the state such a fresh tourist hotspot, and a video presentation revealed Arunachal Pradesh. We can’t take you to Arunachal, but we can bring Arunachal to you through this small video presentation.

Moving on to the final performance, the students graced the stage, each adorned in unique traditional Arunachali attires. These attires, like threads woven into a tapestry, represented the very fabric of our rich culture and the diversity of Arunachali fashion. The Models who walked the ramp displaying traditional Arunachali attires were : Nyishi: Spread across the districts of Western Arunachal and known as the most prominent and largest ethnic community of Arunachal Pradesh, here are the Nyishis!; Apatani: Hailing from the bountiful paddy fields and rolling hills of Lower Subansiri, these are the Apatanis!; Adi: Emerging from the womb of the mighty Siang River, known for its vibrant festival called Solung, here come the Adis!

Galo: Inhabiting the districts of West Siang, Lepa Rada, Lower Siang and Upper Subansiri; celebrating the vibrant festival of Mopin, here come the Galos!; Tagin: Hailing from the lush green hills of Upper Subansiri, here come the Tagins!; Idu Mishmi: Hailing from the least populated district in India; representing Monpa: Hailing from the snow-capped mountains of West Kameng and Tawang here come the Monpas! Tangsa: With over 40 sub-tribes dwelling in the Dihing Patkai region of Changlang, here come the Tangsas!; Wancho: Inhabiting the Patkai hills of Longding and known for their distinct practice of tattooing, here come the Wanchos!

Digaru Mishmi: Hailing from the district housing the holy site of Parshuram Kund; representing the Lohit river, here come the Digaru Mishmis!; Yobin/Lisu: Inhabiting the Vijayanagar circle villages in Changlang and known for the finest quality weaving and fabulous archery skills, here are the Yobin or the Lisus!; Nocte: Inhabiting the Tirap district and known for their practices of chieftainship, salt trade, flintlock rifles and woodcrafts, here come the Noctes!

As the students walked the runway, they breathed life into the history, culture, and identity encapsulated in these exquisite attires. Every piece was a thread in the vibrant tapestry of AP’s diverse heritage. Many traditional Arunachali attires are adorned with intricate beadwork and symbols that represent various aspects of tribal life, from fertility to protection from evil spirits.

As this cultural symphony neared its final note, Dr Fr Allwyn Mendoza, the Principal of Saint Claret College-Ziro expressed his deepest gratitude to St Aloysius College for hosting them. “I hope you’ve enjoyed the performances and gained a deeper appreciation of Arunachal Pradesh’s rich cultural diversity. Thank you for being a part of this cultural celebration, and we eagerly anticipate more opportunities to share the heritage of this extraordinary state. Let the colours, sounds, and memories of this evening linger in our hearts as a reminder of the beauty that lies within diversity. May we continue to celebrate and cherish the rich cultures that unite us as a global community. In organizing this event for the first time, and while our students were motivated and hypnotized by the Kannada movie Kantara, they too wanted to expose the culture and tradition of AP, and that was the main aim. We invite you all to visit Ziro, and be our guest” added Fr Allwyn.

Rev Dr Praveen Martis SJ also expressed his gratitude to Fr Allwyn and his students for giving a fabulous performance and unleashing the beauty, tradition and culture of Arunachal Pradesh. Mementoes were exchanged between the two priests, and this showbiz was one of the best extravaganzas that Aloysians ever experienced, including myself, also an ex-Aloysian! Kudos to the St Claret College team for a great show and for entertaining the Kudla folks!

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