Guide To Nyokum Festival In Arunachal Pradesh For A Traveller

 In Arunachal Pradesh, Festivals, Nyokum festival, religious

Imagine you are at a festival full of vibrant colors, melodious music, and the mouthwatering aroma of traditional cuisines blowing through the air. The rhythmic beats of drums and chants vibrate around you, filling you with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Yes, you guessed it right. Here, we are talking about the Nyokum festival of Arunachal Pradesh.

History of Nyokum Festival

Nyokum is a festival celebrated by the Nyishi tribe of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Word Nyokum has been derived from the combination of two words – Nyok means land (earth) and Kum means collectiveness or togetherness. 

Therefore, the Nyokum festival may very well be interpreted as inviting all the Gods and Goddesses of the universe, with the Nyokum Goddess as the principal deity, to a particular venue at a particular time. The Nyokum Festival celebration is done by people from all classes and walks of life for better productivity, prosperity, and happiness of all human beings on earth.

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Significance of Nyokum Festival


The Nyokum Festival events have a close link with cultivation. In this festival, the Nyokum goddess, the goddess of prosperity is prayed for her blessings so that there may be more and more production of food grains in the next harvesting season, that the visit of famine may be warded off, and that drought or flood may not hamper cultivation, nor should any insect or animal destroy plants and crops. 

The Goddess is worshipped so that the human race may be strengthened and regenerated. All should be free from unnatural death due to accidents, war, and epidemics. Ui or Oram Nyoko is the place meant for life after death. It is also believed that there are numerous deities and spirits on earth. 

These are the deities and spirits of mountains, rivers, forests, animals, crops, households, and so on. Some of the spirits are benevolent and others are malevolent. The Nyishi believe that human beings can live a life of peace and prosperity on this earth only when perfect harmony is maintained between man, God, and nature.

They also believe that prosperity and happiness can come to a man when God and nature are pleased. Misery, hardship, and natural calamities like famine, flood, drought, earthquake, epidemic, warfare, accidental death, and such unwanted incidents occur due to the displeasure and wrath of the God and Goddess of nature.

 It is, therefore, the Nyishi worship to pacify the benevolent Gods and Goddess to protect and bring prosperity to them and to ward off the evil spirits from disturbing the peace in their life, Nyokum Yullow is one such conciliation.

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Best Time To Enjoy The Nyokum Festival Events 

Nyokum Festival is celebrated on the 25th Feb of every year. Therefore, the best season to visit Nyokum festival events is during the late winter to early spring months, specifically from late February to early March.

Nyokum Festival Rituals


The main prayer structure of the Nyishi is made of bamboo, called the yugang. Alongside the yugang, sacrificial animals are tethered. Like cows, mittens, and goats. Often one finds small chickens hung from bamboo poles of the yugang. 

Since the Nyokum festival is a  Tribal celebration in Arunachal Pradesh, therefore the nymph or the traditional priest specifies the number and kinds of animals for sacrifice or any other offering to be made. There are no idols in this worship. Neither is there any permanent structure. Besides the animal sacrifice, beer made from millet seeds and rice paste is used as Nyokum Festival cuisine.

During the Nyokum Festival decorations Bamboo and Cane Decorations, Traditional Arches and Gateways, and Floral Arrangements are used.

People turn up wearing their traditional clothes during this time as Nyokum Festival attire. In the Traditional celebration of Nyokum Festival, the men dress in a cotton eri robe draped from the shoulder and reaching the thighs. From their neck hangs a variety of bead jewelry necklaces.

Often semi-precious stones like turquoise adorn these necklaces. The men’s Nyokum Festival attire is topped by a bamboo woven cap on the head. This cap is decorated with feathers or furs of wild animals. The beak of the hornbill is a favorite ornament for the traditional cap. The women also dress in their finery of par ej, earrings, and bead necklaces, topped with a headdress made of finely scraped bamboo.

Nyokum Festival rituals include singing and dancing before the head priest or nyubh comes with his attendants to perform the main ritual. Guests are welcomed with rice paste powder, and opo or millet seed beer which is scooped in dried gourd ladles. 

The Nyokum Festival dance and song are performed in a group. Usually, men and women hold hands in a circular form and sing and dance these lines Nyokum bo tapa debe. Sometimes men’s Nyokum Festival dance includes mock fights with dao (short sword) and shield made of animal hide.

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Where To See Nyokum Festival


The Nyokum festival is a tribal celebration in Arunachal Pradesh which is celebrated by the Nyishi tribe, one of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, India. The festival is usually held in various Nyishi-inhabited areas of the state. Sepa in East Kameng, Yazali and Itanagar are the main places for experiencing the true essence of the celebration. Some of the important places where you can witness the Nyokum festival are 

  • Itanagar: This is the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh. This city hosts grand celebrations of Nyokum. The Nyishi community in Itanagar organizes vibrant cultural events, traditional dances, and rituals during the festival.
  • Naharlagun: Naharlagun is another town adjacent to Itanagar. This city also sees lively Nyokum festivities. The Nyishi people gather here to celebrate their cultural heritage with traditional music, dance performances, and rituals.
  • Papum Pare District: This district, where both Itanagar and Naharlagun are located, is home to a significant population of Nyishi people. Villages and towns across Papum Pare district host Nyokum celebrations, providing an authentic experience of the festival.
  • Other Nyishi-inhabited Areas: Nyokum is celebrated not only in urban centers but also in rural villages and towns resided by the Nyishi tribe across Arunachal Pradesh. You should definitely visit these remote areas during the festival to enjoy a more intimate and authentic experience of Nyokum festivities.

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How to Reach Nyokum Festival Location 

Arunachal Pradesh is accessible by all three mediums of transportation, train, road, and Air.

By Air:Fly down to Guwahati, take the Volvo bus to Paltan bazar for the railway station, and then take the Donyi Polo Express train at 9.20 PM for Naharlagun (Itanagar). Then take a shared Sumo for Yazali, which is around 2 hours away from Itanagar.

By Train: Take a direct train – Naharlagun Arunachal AC SF Express from Delhi to Naharlaun (Itanagar). Then take a shared Sumo for Yazali, which is around 2 hours away from Itanagar.

By Road: You can easily reach Arunachal Pradesh by an extensive road network. Once you reach Itanagar, you can continue your road journey to the festive locations through the scenic landscapes. You can hire a local cab/ taxi or travel by private car.

Where To Stay For Nyokum Festival 

  • Hotels in Itanagar: Since Itanagar is the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh. There are a large number of hotels, guesthouses, and lodges according to different budgets and preferences. You can find accommodation options ranging from budget hotels to luxury resorts in and around Itanagar.
  • Guesthouses in Naharlagun: Naharlagun, located adjacent to Itanagar, also has guesthouses and budget accommodations where you can stay during the Nyokum festival. These guesthouses offer basic amenities and are suitable for budget travelers.
  • Homestays in Nyishi-inhabited Areas: If you prefer a more mesmerizing experience, then  consider staying in homestays in Nyishi-inhabited villages or towns where the Nyokum festival is being celebrated. This allows you to experience the local way of life, interact with the Nyishi people, and participate in the festival rituals.
  • Tents or Campsites: In some cases, especially if the festival celebrations take place in remote areas, temporary tent accommodations or campsites may also be set up for visitors. This option provides a unique experience of staying close to nature while participating in the festival festivities.
  • Resorts or Eco-lodges: If you prefer a more comfortable and luxurious stay, you can explore resorts or eco-lodges located near to the festival venue. These accommodations offer scenic views, modern amenities, and opportunities for outdoor activities along with enjoying Nyokum festival.

You should always book your accommodation in advance, especially during festival seasons when there may be high demand for lodging. Also consider factors such as distance to the festival venue, transportation options, and amenities provided while choosing your accommodation for the Nyokum festival.

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What is the Nyokum Festival?

Nyokum is a festival celebrated by the Nyishi tribe of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Word Nyokum has been derived from the combination of two words – Nyok means land (earth) and Kum means collectiveness or togetherness.

When is the Nyokum Festival celebrated?

The Nyokum Festival is typically celebrated by the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, India. The Nyokum Festival celebration is held on February 26 every year. This festival is a significant cultural event for the Nyishi people, marking a time of prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration for good harvest, prosperity, and communal harmony. However, variations in the exact date may occur depending on regional customs and lunar calendar calculations.

What are the traditional rituals associated with the Nyokum Festival?

The Mantras and the Mystical Rains during Nyokum Yullo Festival. The main rituals include the chanting of the age-old mantras by Nyubh, the head priest of the Nyishi Tribe. It is said that the mantras are not written anywhere and they can neither be memorised nor can be taught to anyone.

What kinds of traditional foods are prepared and enjoyed during the Nyokum Festival?

During the Nyokum Festival, traditional foods play a central role in the celebrations, offering a delicious glimpse into the culinary heritage of the Nyishi tribe and Arunachal Pradesh as a whole. Some of the Nyokum Festival cuisine may include- apong (rice beer), pura, momo,zan,chura sabji, bamboo shoot curry,pika pila,mithun meat and many more.

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