Traditional Popir dance of the Adi Tribe
Where: Adi-Pasi, Arunachal Pradesh, East India
Cultures: Isolated hill tribe with strong dance culture and food traditions
Joining in: Be sure to try the tribal delicacy – roasted rat
Where It’s At
Located at an altitude of 1000ft, Arunachal Pradesh is a land of untouched natural beauty. A selection of rivers, vast open green lands and rolling hills give the impression of this being a mystical paradise. It is perhaps one of the least populated places in India and provides a peaceful respite for the traveller.
Besides the endless variations of scenic beauty, Arunachal Pradesh is the first to greet sunrise in the country. As the sun rises up, a river of gold flows through this exotic land of dawn-lit mountains. It’s a beautiful place that finds mention in famous ancient India literature.
Arunachal provides a host of sites of tourist interest. At the capital city of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh could be the place for visiting splendid historical sites or taking a trek in the greens. Itanagar’s main tourist attraction is the Ita Fort, which was built in the fourteenth century by King Ramchandra of Mayapur. Another place of interest is the ancient temple housing sculptures of gods and goddesses in the Hindu Iconographic School.
History withstanding, Arunachal has a large number of beauty spots at various altitudes where you may relax and refresh the body in a pollution-free environment. There are waterfalls, glades, forest groves suitable for picnics, camping, or relaxing in a rest house.
Visiting the Tribal Lands
Arunachal Pradesh is a land of remote villages and unknown tribal communities. Reaching the tribal areas is not easy, and for most areas you will require a permit to enter, which would cost about $50.
Meet the Adi Tribe
The Adi is one such tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. They are believed to have come from southern china in the 16th century. They reside in the far north and have different sub-tribes, which differ from each other in many ways and custom. If you travel far inside the tribal settlement areas, you will find all these tribes, but visiting all of them in one short visit might not be possible.
On route to one of the most interesting tribal villages called the Adi-Pasi, you can see the hanging bridge on the Siang River. It’s a cane and bamboo bridge around 200 – 250ft long connecting to the other hill tribes. The Adis are experts at making cane and bamboo items. About 500 people of the Adi tribe come from Adi Pasi. Living in a remote area like this, the tribe has to be totally self-sufficient. Villagers cook fish and rats for dinner; in fact rats are a local delicacy here. Also fishing is a necessary activity among the tribe.
Dances form a vital element in the zest and joy of living of the tribe; dances are performed on important rituals, during festivals and occasionally also for recreation. They vary from highly stylised religious dance dramas of the Buddhists to the martial steps and colourful performances of the Noctes and Wanchos.
Popir is the indigenous dance of the Adi tribe. Among the Adis, dance has evolved almost into an art form mainly for entertainment and recreation. Teams of young girls in perfect rhythmic unison perform the ‘Phoning’ dance of Adis. Nishis and Tagins of Upper and Lower Subansiri Districts perform similar group dance in colourful costumes.
Arunachal Pradesh official web page
Information on tourism, the region the Adi tribe and their dance rituals