Dirang Monpa, one of the major tribes of the Monpas
Posted on July 24, 2017 by Ghoomophiro
The Dirang Monpas are identified as the major division of the greater Monpa Tribe belonging to Tibeto – Burman language family. These tribal people are Tibetan Buddhist and inhabit the north eastern area of India. The Dirang Monpa tribe has been granted the scheduled tribe status in India. During the 1981 census, their total population was 3599, which crossed 5000 in one decade’s time.
The other name used commonly for the Diran Monpa tribe is Tsangla, which suggests that these people are maybe in some aspect, related to Tsangla tribes of Bhutan, China and India, which numbers more than 250,000 people. But when it comes to the language spoken, the difference is vast. A research has been taking place in order to determine the relationship between the two ancient tribes.
In India, for the most part, the Dirang Monpa people inhabit the Dirang circle which happens to be located in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. The tribal people claim that they are the very first people who inhabited the area which takes their origin to a thousand years back. Some of their elders reveal that their forefathers originated primarily in Bhutan and they moved to India later when their native land was constantly being bombarded by the outside invasions.
When it comes to cuisines, the Monpa people survive majorly on cereals, fish, vegetables, chuung, rice, maize and wheat. Maize happens to be their staple item food. When it comes to meat, they are known to consume everything from beef, pork, mutton, yaks and mithuns to deers and in some areas, there are tribal people who eat snake as well. Bananas, apples and peaches are the fruits most consumed by them.
To perform the marriage rituals, a lama gets hired in order to consult the horoscopes and determine the most auspicious time and day for the marriage to take place. On the day of marriage, the family of the bride moves to groom’s house. The marriage is considered as a simple procedure where a lama simply places a white scarf called Katha around the necks of the bride and groom, showers blessings on the couple and in no time, the marriage formalities are completed. A huge feast is held after marriage at which all the people, including children, often become indulge in consuming copious amounts of strong rice whisky.
Lamas play many other roles as well. When a woman gives birth to a child, she is considered to be in a state of spiritual and physical pollution and nobody is allowed to visit her. On the third day, a lama is invited to name the child and prepare a horoscope for the baby. The lamas are not only present at birth, but they also carry out the funerals. When there is a death in this tribe family, ‘the body is carried to a nearby river and thrown into the water after being cut into 108 pieces as Tibetan Buddhists consider 108 to be an auspicious number. The lamas recite a prayer and on the seventh day, a tree gets erected in front of the house of the deceased to satisfy the soul.
Tibetan Buddhism has the greatest influence on the Dirang Monpa tribes. At the time of the 1981 census, 99.69 per cent of the Dirang Monpa expressed their belief in Buddhism. The previous Indian census, in 1971, had returned 100 per cent of the Dirang Monpa as Buddhists.
Culture / Belief
The Dirang Monpas feel that the caste Hindus are superior to them, while the Lish Monpas, But Monpas and Mijis are considered inferior.
Agriculture is the chief occupation. The people practice both jhum(shifting cultivation) and settled cultivation and also domesticate yaks, cows, sheeps, pigs etc. The cattles and yak are reared for milk and meat, while the sheep is credited for producing wool and meat.
Northeast India boasts of incredible linguistic and cultural diversity out of which the Monpa tribes make up for five percent of the total population of tribal communities spanning the whole Arunachal Pradesh. These tribes are known for their own and unique system of the practices. The tribes are also famous for their artistic creations that include beautiful Thangka painting, carpet making, weaving, and wood carving.