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Houses of the Apatanis

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Uploaded on Aug 25, 2010

The houses are constructed during the month of August to December with the help of clan members. Then the building materials are procured. Usually wood is used. The height of a house rises about twelve feet from the floor and two feet from the ground. Houses are closely situated and often their roofs touch each other. The floor and walls are made of beaten bamboo tied with split cane.After finishing the construction of the house, two minor rites are performed by offering a chicken and hen. These rites are performed to appease the god of house so that the house should last long and the inmates should live in prosperity with the blessing of gods.

Also unique to the Apatanis are the simple and sturdy bamboo houses they live in. Bamboo is an incredibly useful resource, and thus is highly esteemed among the Apatani people. Almost every family has their own nursery of bamboo plants, where they grow a unique species that was imported from China centuries ago. Bamboo is used not only for building, but for cooking, eating, and in the creation of sacrificial objects.

Most Apatanis are followers of the Doni-Polo religion, a religion with no written scriptures. Believers pray to a number of deities and spirits of the natural world. Sacrifices and rituals coincide with the lunar cycle, and also occur during occasions such as weddings.




Spiritual rituals occur during many phases of a typical Apatani wedding ceremony and celebration. The bride and the women of her extended family make a ritual march to her future husband's house carrying baskets full of rice. As a gesture of prosperity and good luck, the bride will typically carry the first basket of rice to the groom with bamboo and eggs in it. The women will then receive gifts in return from the groom's family.

Another common ritual involves sprinkling the blood of a chicken in household doorways, which is said to bring good luck to the families living inside. The priests and elders within a village generally carry out chicken sacrifices, but anyone is welcome to participate. When carrying out the sacrifice, Apatanis make sure to read their fortunes in the tiny chicken livers. Though the chicken is killed in devotion to the gods, most of its parts are used or consumed after the sacrifice.




The ritual sacrifice of a pig also occurs to celebrate a marriage. It is cooked over a fire to accompany boiled bamboo and rice as part of a multi-day feast. To complete the celebration, the Apatanis drink rice beer, which is a drink common across Arunachal Pradesh made from fermented rice. Lastly, small structures are created out of bamboo, eggshells and chicken feathers in honor of the marriage. They are hung in front of houses and along village paths to bring good fortune to the newlyweds and their families.

This footage is part of the professionally-shot stock footage archive of Wilderness Films India Ltd., the largest collection of imagery from South Asia. The Wilderness Films India collection comprises of thousands of hours of high quality broadcast imagery, mostly shot on HDCAM 1080i High Definition, HDV and Digital Betacam. Write to us for licensing this footage on a broadcast format, for use in your production! We pride ourselves in bringing the best of India and South Asia to the world... wfi @ vsnl.com and admin@wildfilmsindia.com.

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