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Arunachal tribes revive lockdown rituals

Date: 28 March 2020 Tags: Indian Tribes


A tribal lockdown ritual has staged a comeback in Arunachal Pradesh, the State geographically closest to China’s Hubei province where the COVID-19 outbreak began.



  • The border State’s West Siang district ceremonially entered the Arr-Rinam phase at the stroke of 5 p.m. on Thursday. 

  • Arr-Rinam is the Galo equivalent of lockdown imposed by consensus for 48 hours whenever an epidemic strikes. The Galos, one of the 26 major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, dominate West Siang district.

  • Arr-Rinam, which follows the Ali-Ternam ritual to ward off an epidemic, has been a part of their culture for a long time.

  • Ali-Ternam , Ali means epidemic and Ternam forestall,  and Arr-Rinam were last performed almost four decades ago when a water-borne disease had affected many members of the community.

  • They  have been performing these rituals periodically for livestock, primarily the semi-wild mithun, that are prone to contagious diseases. But this is for the first time in 30-40 years that they have performed the rituals for the safety of humans.

  • The Adi community inhabiting East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts too performed a similar ritual called Motor that they believe lets shamans with legendary powers to locate wild herbs to combat an epidemic.

  • In districts such as Papum Pare and East Kameng, the dominant Nyishi community observed Arrue involving self-quarantine. 

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