Arunachal Pradesh is a gorgeous state and has a culture so distinct, you have got to experience it at least once in your lifetime. There are a number of tribes that inhabit the state; bringing different customs and festivals together. The best time to visit here is during one of these festivals; you get to learn so much by just being a part of one. There are agricultural, religious and socio-cultural festivals where people dance, sing, pray, pay gratitude and make merry as a community.
Sangken or Sanken is one such festival that you shouldn’t miss. It is celebrated by the tribes of Tai Khamptis, Singphoos and Tangsas Tikhaks with great rigour and intensity. It is being celebrated on February 14 this year; a three-day affair, much like Holi in India and Songkran in Thailand. What they do is they bathe the idol of Buddha with water, and also pour water on each other which signifies the purging of the soul, mind and body.
This festival also marks the beginning of the New Year for the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. On the first day of the festival, prayers are offered for the well-being of everyone, which is accompanied by the beating of drums and gongs. During the entire festival, people abstain from killing animals, consuming intoxicating drinks and indulging in illicit behaviour. People also refrain from all forms of manual work, gambling and even cutting trees. After the ritual bathing of the idols of Buddha and the holy shrines, people sprinkle clean water on each other and exchange greetings. On the final day, the idol of Lord Buddha is installed back in the main temple and a community feast is organized.
The festival is celebrated all over the state, but it is mainly celebrated in a big way in the Lohit district, the home district of the Khamptis. That is where you should be during the festival.