The North-east of India is home to several tribes and witnesses an incredible amount of traditional and indigenous festivals year-round. Every April, the Sangken festival is celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Assam, as the traditional New Year’s Day by the Theravada Buddhist Communities. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars. Here are five facts of what is dubbed as the ‘festival of water’ in India:
- Also known as the festival of water, it reflects the traditional culture of the Khamti tribe, one of the oldest tribes of Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh. During the celebration, images of Lord Buddha are bathed with holy water ceremoniously.
2. It is believed that on this ‘Water Festival’, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck.
3. The festival is also celebrated by Singpho, Khamyang, Tikhaks (Tangsa) and Phakyal community of Arunachal Pradesh and generally falls in the month of ‘Naun-ha’ of Khamti calendar and corresponds to the Sankranti of Baisakh.
4. The festival sees the tribe heralding the New Year. As a sign of merriment and happiness on the occasion, the people sprinkle water on one another. Khamti unmarried youths roam the streets with buckets of water and drench each other and passersby. The elderly and married people generally don’t involve in this practice. Khamptis believe, in this New Year, water will be the saviour.
5. At the end of the celebration, which lasts for three days, the idols of Lord Buddha are taken back to the Viharas (temples). Restoration of idols inside the Vihara marks the end of the old year and beginning of the New Year.