Itanagar: Dwellers of around seven villages surrounding Aalo, the headquarters of Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district on Friday came together under one umbrella and took a pledge to conserve and safeguard Yomgo, one of the most prominent rivers of the district.
Accordingly a treaty titled, “Yomgo Accord” was also signed by the villagers on the day. The Accord is an initiative which aims to involve all the citizens of the West Siang district, especially those living on the banks of Yomgo River to come together and work on reviving and conserving the important river and all its tributaries.
The historic pact was signed on the sidelines of the Yomgo River Festival (YRF), one of the most popular river carnivals of the state which also got underway at Kabu Village near here on Friday. This is the 6th edition of the festival, which was erstwhile known as Siang River Festival.
Kabu, the cleanest village of West Siang district is located on the right bank of river Yomgo.
Addressing a mammoth gathering on the occasion, West Siang deputy commissioner Swetika Sachan said, “The Yomgo Accord, a part of the YRF celebrations will go a long way in spreading the message of river conservation and bring the people together to save rivers, especially Yomgo which flows across the district.”
“This year the theme of YRF centres on celebrating the importance of Yomgo River and how it has helped shaping the cultural landscape of the region. The river has been the key thread that has linked the people who reside in its vicinity and has provided them with an identity which is not only unique but also deserves to be documented and celebrated,” the DC said.
The DC said Arunachal Pradesh holds a special place in the nation with respect to the astounding diversity of culture languages and people.
“With 26 major tribes and over a 100 minor tribes, the state is an extremely diverse one. The Galo tribe is one of the primary tribes that has been instrumental in giving Arunachal its great diversity of tribal culture. The YRF is a commemoration of the essence of the Galo tribe and is an effort to bring out its uniqueness to the world around,” Sachan said.
The DC said that the YRF also focuses on expressing the identity of the Galo people though various platforms of music, food and dance among others.
She, however, said that the festival was not only about merry making, but showcasing and promoting the rich culture and nuances of the Galos and also promoting eco-tourism activities in the region.
Textiles and Industries minister Tumke Bagra said celebrations of festivals such as YRF not only promotes the region in the tourism circuit, but it also helps the locals earn revenue.
Citing example of Himachal Pradesh, Bagra said: “People know Himachal because it is popular among the tourists so we have to make Arunachal and West Siang popular in the similar way as the state has a lot of tourism potential.”
Chief guest Bagra said that “festivals should not be confined to merry making and instead focus at promoting the local culture, traditional art and handicrafts etc., so that it attracts both domestic and foreign tourists.”
He further appealed the people to be more hospitable so that more tourists come and visit the region state.
Local MLA Kento Jini in his address sought coordination from all to make the YRF, the most popular festival in the country.
Advocating for rural tourism, the legislator asked the festival organisers to explore the facilities being provided by the government.
“The government is signing many MoUs for exploration of tourism in the state. We should avail such facilities and initiatives which will eventually benefit the local population,” Jini said.
Divisional forest officer Abhinav Kumar extended the vote of thanks.
Earlier, the festival began with the inauguration of the food stalls by the chief guest which was followed by the display of “Nyida” (Galo marriage ceremony) and bamboo handicraft and ‘amin’ (local dish) making competitions.
Panel discussions on “Cultural Tourism in Rural Communities-Avenue and Challenges”, folk song and dance competition etc were the other highlights of the day.
Performances from Vik Feyago (Kolkata), Omak Komut Collective (Arunachal), David Angu and Tribe (Arunachal), Gauley Bhai (Kalimpong) and Arko Mukherjee Collective (Kolkata) enthralled the audience in the evening.
The three-day festival would culminate on Sunday with Indian-American songwriter and singer Raja Kumari’s performance being the main attraction.