Dree of Apatanis
Dree is a fertility festival of the Apatanis held annually on July 5. The word ‘Dree’ is derived from ‘Diiri’, which means purchasing or borrowing of food items when in scarcity or add to the existing stock in anticipation of lean days. In other words Dree is named after Diiri Piilo, a month in Apatani calendar.
According to one traditional version, Anii Donii and Abo Liibo, Mother Sun and Father Moon, obtained paddy seeds from Murtu Yaring and sowed it. The yield was, however, poor so a priest called, Nyibu Kharii propitiated Harniyang Pubyang following which crop yields increased. Ever since, people celebrate this festival for good crops every year.
Another version says Abotani, the ancestor of mankind, obtained paddy seeds from god Herii. While hunting in jungle one day Abotani saw a bunch of paddy hanging on a branch of a Herii Tangu Sanii tree. Since it was too tall for him to reach, Abotani waited until winter for it to ripen and fall down. As expected, with the approach of winter the paddy bunch, ripened but fell into a river known as Hachi Hassang Ka Hado Siigang which flowed beside the tree thus becoming out of reach for Abotani.
The ancestor of mankind then searched the paddy seeds all around and finally obtained it from two fishermen called, Dirri Aki Diiro Aro and Nalyang Tamho Garo Taku, who had caught it in their fishing trap. Having obtained the paddy seeds, Abotani began growing them in field with his wife Ayo Diiyang Diibu. They prospered and became happy. However, this fortune came to an end when he married Tiini Rungya after divorcing Ayo Diilyang Diibu. The crop yield dwindled quickly while Ayo Diilyang Diibu’s prospered.
After a year the year paddy plants began dying, culminating in a famine. When the situation worsened in the second year, Abo Tani consulted Abo Liibo and Anii Donii who advised him to perform rituals like Chandii, Metii, and Dree by propitiating various gods and goddesses. He appeased Tamu god for destruction of pests, and Yapung, the rain god for protecting them from hailstorm.
Ever since, Apatains celebrate Dree evry year during Dree Piilo, June –July, for goods crops and family and social welfare.
Before 1967 when Dree was given a modern outlook by the educated sections of the society led by Lod Kojee, the festival was observed on a suitable date in villages. A priest inaugurated the festival and then people took out a procession from Lapang, a community platform, with chanting of hymns to appease spirits.
Taboos followed performance of various rituals such as Tamu, Metii, and Danyi. During taboos they conduct social discussions, games and sports and entertainments.
Main highlights of present day Dree celebration are inauguration of the festival by a chief guest, hoisting of Dree flag, rituals and presentation of cultural activities. Cucumber, symbolizing sacredness of vegetables, is distributed to guests and participants. Games and sports, community feast, and entertainment also form a part of the celebration