‘POI PEE MAU’, the New Year festival of the Tai people, is of paramount importance to uniting all Tais. Its importance as a powerful heritage to preserve age old culture, tradition, literature and games & sports cannot be undermined. This Poi is a celebration of oneness and a symbol to disseminate the rich cultural heritage and exotic cuisine of the Tai’s to the world.
Located on the northeastern region of the country, Arunachal Pradesh, popularly known as the Land of the Rising Sun, prides itself on its myriad tribes woven together in a diverse but rich cultural fabric. The tribes maintain and express their sense of joy and harmony and spiritual satiation in the form of festivals celebrated in different seasons of the year.
The Tai people, members of one of the major tribes of Arunachal, inhabit the lush green southern part of Lohit district in the Land of Golden Pagoda, Namsai. The Tai people are good craftsmen, enterprising traders, expert agriculturists and practice martial arts (Soung) and Koboj which earlier helped them resist the British army.
Every festive occasion or celebration of the Tai people revolves around the principles and teachings of Lord Buddha. All its socio-cultural activities have been truly religious. The essence of festivals lies in bringing people together and spreading the intrinsic values of their cultures and traditions. Being followers of Lord Buddha, the Tai people are lovers of peace and harmony. Thus, Poi Pee Mau has always unfolded the message of peace, harmony and unity. Be it language, literature and script, art and culture, games and sports and food habits – all these of the Tai people are unique and beautiful. Their decency and craftsmanship and their cuisine reveal their love and taste of food, while their sports show their adeptness in the art of games.
Poi Pee Mau – a New Year festival of the Tai people – is the celebration of the advent of a new dawn for the community to usher a fresh era of socio-cultural development. Poi Pee Mau is as important as any other festival to Tai people as this festival shows our culture, tradition, customs, lifestyle and beliefs in god. Thus, the festival is the best way to respect the tradition and culture. This festival brings co-operation and unity among the people besides it gives happiness, enjoyment and also enhances living-standard of people because this festival generate income to the local community and our nation and helps in preserving our rich culture and heritage.
Poi Pee Mau is the biggest festival of the community who reside all over the world. Poi Pee Mau, literally ‘the Tai New Year’, is celebrated in November or December to welcome the advent of a new dawn of socio-cultural development in the community. The learned Tai people know that the actual Pee Mau of the Tai should begin on the first day of the first month, which, according to the Tai calendar, falls either towards the end of November or early December. January is the second month and April is the fifth, not the first, in the Tai calendar. We all know that Vesak, Buddhist celebration falls on the sixth month of the Tai calendar or in May in the Gregorian calendar.
How and when did the Tai lunar year begin is a question increasingly asked among the Tai’s? It is largely theoretical proposition, the nature of controversy around most of the calendars in the world; myths and novelty are often associated with the beginning of a calendar.
The idea of the festival was conceived by the Tai Khampti Development Society (TKDS) and it is celebrated in accordance with the ancient Tai calendar. The noble initiative, with support from the Khampti Singpho Council (KSC), is aimed at reviving the tribe’s culture, script, music and way of life, while keeping pace with developments in the modern world is a praiseworthy.
Among the heritage of the Tai people are hundreds of volumes of manuscripts, traditional medication system, dances, martial arts, handicrafts and delicious cuisine. With patrons such as deceased Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, Governor JJ Singh, Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and Minister Finance, Planning & PWD Chou Na Mein, Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Husbandry Tiwa Mein and Local MLA Sati Mein among others the TKDS has made rapid progress in acquainting the Tai youths with their rich heritage, rescuing the Tai culture from the threat of possible extinction, and weaning the youth away from the menace of opium and other drugs. Equally importantly, the festival helps sustain the prospects of the tourism industry in Lohit district.
The initiative and the foundation of the festival laid by the TKDS will help the Tai people, especially the youths, to propel themselves towards a modern, vibrant and developed society – a society that will be at par with any developed society of the world. To check these harmful bad habits which are easy to acquire but difficult to avoid, the initiative of the TKDS to organize the Poi Pee Mau to promote the Tai culture and tradition and thereby bring awareness and revolution among the Tai people, especially the younger generations, for all round development is appreciable.
The common platform in the form of Poi Pee Mau provided to the youth has relevantly changed the mindset and helped them see the brighter part of life. The Poi (festival) has in the true sense made the younger generations more acquainted with at least the names of different games and sports disciplines, and also rescued the Tai culture from the threat of possible extinction.
The celebration of Poi Pee Mau is designed in such a way that it will become a platform to develop and display the talents of the budding artists and writers of the society. It will also expose the tourism potential of the area to the outer world and help the unemployed youth get employment under the tourism sector. Organizing the festival will surely go a long way to inspire the youths to come forward and protect the identity and culture of the community – be it today, tomorrow or in the days to come. It also sustains the prospects of tourism and ultimately helps in strengthening the society, the state and the nation as a whole.
Poi Pee Mau is one such way to showcase the cultural specialties of the community. It represents the cultural ethos, providing sustenance to it and ultimately promotes tourism and provides continuity to customs, tradition and culture. The festival also serves as an ideal platform for showcasing the splendor of the region with respect to its culture, practices, crafts and arts, and can effectively attempt to change the stereotypical notions about the district and the region as a whole. It will give ample opportunity for everyone to come together and rejoice this change. The launch of the website in the maiden Poi Pee Mau celebration in 2008 by Governor has brought all the Tai’s closer and gave them exposure to the world besides fostering universal brotherhood.
Poi Pee Mau is the occasion when we think of each other more and when our consciousness meets; let this year Pee Mau give us all strength to persevere with hope for peace. Let this year Poi Pee Mau give us strength to enhance both education and wisdom with which our younger generations will make the progress we have been dreaming to realize. And, let us this Poi Pee Mau makes us all stronger that we can contribute to the world for the better.
So join us in this fun filled celebration and bask in the glory of Tai people hospitality from 13 to 16 December 2012 at the Land of Golden Pagoda, Namsai, in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh.