Poi Pee Mau Festival

Poi Pee Mau  the New Year festival of the Tai people - is the celebration of the advent of a new dawn for the community to usher in a fresh era of socio-cultural development. Poi Pee Mau is as important as any other festival to Tai people as this festival shows culture, tradition, customs, lifestyle and beliefs in god. This festival brings co-operation and unity among the people as well as happiness and enjoyment. It also enhances the living standard of the people because this festival generates income for the local community and the nation and helps in preserving its rich culture and heritage.

This festival has created a platform to help develop and display the talents of community’s budding artist and writers. This festival has also made possible for the girls and boys of the Tai Khampti society to mingle with each other and understand each other freely which otherwise is difficult in our conservative society.

Poi Pee Mau is the biggest festival of the community that resides all over the world. Poi Pee Mau, literally ‘the Tai New Year’, is generally celebrated in the month of November or December. This year’s celebration in accordance with Tai calendar is the 2109th Poi Pee Mau in a row. The learned Tai people know that the actual Pee Mau of the Tai should begin on the first day of the first month, which, according to the Tai calendar, falls either towards the end of November or early December. January is the second month and subsequently the rest follow in the Tai calendar. How and when did the Tai lunar year begin is a question increasingly asked among the Tais? It is largely theoretical proposition, the nature of controversy around most of the calendars in the world; myths and novelty are often associated with the beginning of a calendar.

The idea to celebrate the festival in Arunachal Pradesh was conceived by the Tai Khamti Development Society (TKDS) and first took place in 2008 in Namsai in accordance with the ancient Tai Calendar. The noble initiative with the support of the community chiefs, elected leaders, elders and youth was aimed at reviving its age old culture, script, music, sports, dances, folklore and way of life while keeping in pace with development in the modern world.

With patrons such as deceased Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, former Governor JJ Singh, Governor Nirbhay Sharma, Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and Minister Agriculture & Horticulture Chou Na Mein, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment & Forest Chow Tewa Mein, former MLA Namsai Nang Sati Mein and MLA Namsai Chow Zignu Namchoom among others the TKDS has made rapid progress in acquainting the Tai youth with their rich heritage, rescuing the Tai culture from the threat of possible extinction, and weaning the youth away from the menace of opium and other drugs. Equally importantly, the festival helps sustain the prospects of tourism industry in the newly formed Namsai district.

The initiative and the foundation of the festival laid by the TKDS will help the Tai people, especially the youth, to propel themselves towards a modern, vibrant and developed society - a society that will be at par with any developed society of the world. To check these harmful bad habits which are easy to acquire but difficult to avoid, the initiative of the TKDS to organize the Poi Pee Mau to bring awareness and revolution among the Tai people, especially the younger generations, for all round development is appreciable. The common platform in the form of Poi Pee Mau provided to the youth has relevantly changed the mindset and helped them see the brighter part of life. The Poi (festival) has in the true sense made the younger generations more acquainted with at least the names of their traditional games and sport disciplines.

Organizing the festival will surely go a long way to inspire the youths to come forward and protect the identity and culture of the community - be it today, tomorrow or in the days to come. It also sustains the prospects of tourism and ultimately helps in strengthening the society, the state and the nation as a whole.

Poi Pee Mau is one such way to showcase the cultural specialties of the community. It represents the cultural ethos, providing sustenance and continuity to it. The festival also serves as an ideal platform for showcasing the splendour of the region with respect to its culture, practices, crafts and arts, and can effectively attempt to change the stereotypical notions about the district and the region as a whole. It will give ample opportunity to everyone to come together and rejoice this change. The only occasion when we think of each other more and where consciousness meets; it is hoped that this year Pee Mau will strengthen to persevere with hope for peace. Poi Pee Mau is the only platform through which one can enhance both education and wisdom with which the younger generations will makethe progress the society has been dreaming to realize.

The place where this year’s three-day festival was celebrated is Nallung, situated 3 kms away from Chongkham and often referred to as the centre of Khampti tribes prevailing in Arunachal Pradesh. Nallung is a beautiful, serene and monastic village by the banks of Tieng - a river with crystal clear water and thriving flora and fauna. The site is set amidst lush green forest and tea plantation which adds to its mesmerizing beauty that gives ample opportunities to the visitors for a perfect getaway weekend.

Throughout the three days, there was a range of cultural performances, including performances from most successful blue band in India “Soulmate” from Shillong (Meghalaya), “Toxic Peace” one of the most skilled bands from Nagaland, “Minutes of Decay” a Delhi based all-girl band from Imphal (Manipur) and “DJ Acid” from Bengaluru besides traditional Tai music performances, Tai classical and contemporary dances from various parts of Namsai district and popular drama of Tai Khampti called Pung. In addition, there were demonstrations of Tai martial arts including traditional Tai sword fighting, traditional sports competition, elephant safari, boat race and various food stalls to twist your taste buds with contemporary cuisines and delectable delights of Tai people. The other added attractions featured spectacular fireworks display, beauty pageants, ceremony of floating thousand candles over river Tieng and many other memorable activities.

Chow Bilaseng Namchoom