Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Along, Arunachal Pradesh

Sipping apong, rice beer.

Sunday at Donyi-Polo (Sun-Moon) church.

More apong. Every day. All the time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Daporijo, Arunachal Pradesh

An omen? A village outside of Daporijo.

A monkey pelt and monkey skull.
Constructions of bamboo and other plants represent god during festivals.
We were walking through a Nishi village and I heard someone singing. He was a priest of the Donyi-Polo religion, a religion based on ancestor worship, forest spirits, and worship of the sun and moon. He was performing a ritual for a sick person in the village. This chicken was sacrificed to please negative spirits. After the healing ceremony, they were really nice to show us around and teach us a little bit.
Leafy branches like these represent positive spirits of the forest.
Animal bones.
The women of Ligu village performed a village dance and song for us! We've been recording a lot of music on our trip, and you can see one of the women in this photo listening to the performance on headphones. Contact me for a copy of the "India Mix 2007" when I'm back in the states. Dave and I have hours and hours of temple music, village music, and other sounds from the trip.

Thanks to Pilum Ligu and the whole village for hosting us overnight. Other travellers in Arunachal Pradesh, be sure to check out Ligu village! Pilum and others are working on a lodge for travelers, which will be a much more comfortable and interesting place to stay than other hotels in Daporijo.

More about Donyi-Polo religion and efforts to preserve it:

Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

All the older Apatani women in Ziro have plugs through their nostrils (which look like black poker chips) and facial tatoos. This was done to prevent neighboring tribes from stealing their women. I don't have any pictures of this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

"The bar."
Oink. Oink. You don't really want to know, do you?

Merry Christmas! One of these days a second wave of missionaries will come to Arunachal Pradesh and teach the people that their stars are--by some terrible accident--showing support for the other team. In a village near Ziro I asked a guy what his religion was. He pointed to the sun. Yes!
A local guide translated: "Another man like you wanted to take my picture! I don't know why!"

Mithun horns. The animals are used for food, ritual slaughter during festivals, and as currency for marriage gifts.

Shillong and Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

Khasi market in Shillong.Same thing from a different angle.
Mawlynnong is a beautiful, surreal village known as "The Cleanest Village in Asia." When this bus left, three guys with dustpans appeared out of nowhere and cleaned the dirt where the wheels had been.

Guesthouse in Mawlynnong.

People in the Mawlynnong area.
"You will not see the end of this waterfall. Do not try."

Old Khasi sacrificial altar in Mawlynnong.

Mysterious monoliths/laundry out to dry

Truckbed full of cow heads.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Guwahati, Assam

Sacrificial lamb and pilgrims at Kamakhya Mandir, where the squeals, squawks, and baaabaaabaaas of the helpless can be heard before they hit the chopping block. It all has something to do with goddess menstruation and a stone that bleeds once a year.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rahung, Arunachal Pradesh

Note: photos by Dave.
When we were in a town called Dirang some guy stopped us and invited us in for tea. As a freelance historian of the area, he videotapes festivals, ceremonies, and monastery activities. He also showed us a video on his cellphone of a human body being chopped into pieces. The pieces were scattered in the river so the fish could eat them.

The night before, he had videotaped priests performing a bon-pu ceremony. Bon-pu is a religion based on nature spirits. It was the traditional religion of the area before lamas from Tibet colonized it. As closet hippies, Dave and I were both very interested.

So we hiked to Rahung to find nature-worshippers. No one in the main village spoke any English, but we did see some horns.

Someone invited us in one of these houses and we had tea. There was no nature worship going on that we could discern, but there was an old man feeding a baby by with chewed rice from his own mouth like mommy birds feed baby birds.
Child scribbles? Religious Hieroglyphs?

Spot the phallic symbol, you perverts!