Habitations of Singpho in Arunachal Pradesh

Singpho are one of the tribes that spread across countries where they are called Kachin in Myanmar and Jingpo in China. Even in India they reside in five districts: Changlang, Namsai/Lohit Districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Sibsagar, Golaghat and Tinsukia District of Assam.

A research by Baruwa (2013) compiled as many as 31 villages in Assam and 42 villages in Arunachal Pradesh. Another researcher from Dibrugarh University, Machey (2013), when planning the field work listed 30 “highly concentrated” villages of Singpho. May be the other villages are less in numbers or shared with other community members.

According to Baruwa (2013), the 42 villages in Arunachal Pradesh includes Namphai, Miao Singpho, Pisi, Gagam, Ningrang, Lewang, Hamuk, Phup, Bordumsa, Wakhetna, Goju, Dirakna, Gidingna, Gallinja, Balijan, Kheremkha, Wagun-1,2,3&4, Dapkhu, Saimo, Kherem Bisa, Deobil, Ning-ru, Wagun, Namsai Singpho, N-den, N-phum, Munglang, Namgoi, Unbang, Project, Insha, Tingwa, Innao, Dragna, Payong, Sikao, Duleng, Wakro, Tezo Singpho, Imbu, Dimaba and Kharsang Singpho

1. Balijan
2. Bordumsa Bordumsa Changlang
3. Dapkhu Bordumsa Changlang
4. Deobil Namsai Namsai
5. Dimaba
6. Dirakna Bordumsa Changlang
7. Dragna
8. Duleng
9. Gagam
10. Gallinja Changlang
11. Gidingna
12. Goju Bordumsa Changlang
13. Hamuk
14. Imbu
15. Innao Diyun Changlang
16. Insha Namsai Namsai
17. Kharsang Singpho Kharsang Changlang
18. Kherem Bisa Bordumsa Changlang
19. Kheremkha
20. Lewang Miao Changlang
21. Miao Singpho Miao Changlang
22. Munglang Lathao Lohit
23. Namgoi Nampong Changlang
24. Namphai Miao Changlang
25. Namsai Singpho Namsai Namsai
26. N-den
27. Ningrang Miao Changlang
28. Ning-ru Bordumsa Changlang
29. N-phum
30. Payong
31. Phup Miao Changlang
32. Pisi Miao Changlang
33. Project
34. Saimo Bordumsa Changlang
35. Sikao Miao Changlang
36. Tezo Singpho Tezu Lohit
37. Tingwa Chowkham Lohit
38. Unbang
39. Wagun Bordumsa Changlang
40. Wagun-1, 2, 3, 4 Bordumsa Changlang
41. Wakhetna Bordumsa Changlang
42. Wakro Wakro Lohit

In the table above, I have added the columns “Circle” and “District” with the help of internet. I could not verify several of them (Indicated by hyphen – ). There is one Singpho village I know – Dumba Singpho – which did not find its place above. There could be some more villages not listed above. Also possible the spellings are given differently that made identification difficult.

The Center for Policy Studies mentioned that according to Census 2011 there were 5,616 Singpho in Arunachal Pradesh. Out of that, 5,385 belong to Buddhist religion. That means this smaller number of people are widely distributed. A school teacher informed about 4 to 5 families resides in each village.

Good description on Singpho:

  • Machey, Ashwini. Socio Economic Characteristics Of The Singphos: A Study Of Assam And Arunachal Pradesh. Published at IJMRR, Nov 2013.
  • Baruwa, Anita. 2013. Singing the Singpho Song. Provides details of the Singpho living in Assam.

Tangsa Tribes

Perhaps, the Tangsa is one of the most complex tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, having several sub-tribes. The Census of India 2001 returned as many as 27 tribes bearing the Tangsa name. So according to the Registrar General of India, there are 27 tribes within the umbrella “Tangsa”. That is quite a long list of names.

Then I came across a simpler classification of tribes by a Tangsa author, Mr. H.K. Morang. According to him, there are five Tangsa clans. Each of these have further sub-divisions.

  1. Tikhak
  2. Lung Chang
  3. Muklom
  4. Pangwa/Pewai
  5. Jungkuk Kato

Tikhak Sub-Clans

The clan is further divided into two main sub-groups:

  1. Tailang includes Wangkang, Chharsa, Tangkhu, Mansang, Lungkhung, Hanglung and Mungkhom.
  2. Maiwang includes Chimai, Mimai, Taichu, Kamba, Taimak, Taidong, Jungchung and Taihu.

It seems that at the last categorization, people use them as surnames. There are marital restrictions. Marriage within the Tailang and Maiwan sub-clans are prohibited. But sub-clans of Tailang can marry from Maiwan and vice versa.

Muklom Sub-Clans

The sub-clans of Muklom includes Tangha, Rekhong, Wangrey, Khimhun, Matcha, Changmi, Yanchang, Tungkhang, Songkhu, Bowa, Techi, Ngemu and Tekhil.

Lungchang Sub-Clans

Sub-clans of Lungchang are Taizu, Zongsam, Kenglang, Mamai, Taidong, Khomrang, Haisa.

Pangwa Clans and Sub-Clans

Under Pangwa clans there are 31 listed: Mungray (Morang), Mossang, Longphi, Chamchang (Kimsing), Sankey, Cholin (Tonglim), Longri, Jowglai (Jugly), Sangwal,, Ngaimong (Ngemu), Hahcheng, Raira (Rongrang), Bongtai, Hallang, Khailah, Khaichier (Khahchar), Kochong, Shohra, Tangkhu, Lahki, Michhi, Dungi, Rasa, Rasi, Sangti, Lochhang, Gaji, Gaja, Tsangfu (Dangku), Gahman, Gahkhi. There are further what the author called “Post Sub-Clans” under each of the sub-clans.

Jungkuk Kato Clans

No details given.

Source: Morang, H.K. 2008. Tangsar Aaina. Namchik Society for Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Conservation, Jairampur. Changlang District, Arunachal Pradesh.

Chronology of Christianity Among the Tangsa

1957: A Khasi Catholic Christian was posted in Nampong as Agriculture Inspector. He succeeded introducing Catholic religion to a person by the name Ringkey Mongru of Khamkhai village (Nampong). Ringkey was sent to Don Bosco School in Dibrugarh.

1964: The Tangsa of Myanmar were already Christians as early as 1950. Christians from across the border used to come to Nampong and sang songs coupled with prayers on Sundays. They spread the Gospel among their brethren in the Changlang District. At that time the people were looking at the ways to get rid of spirit and puja system.

During that time, an Assam Rifle Jawan, from Mizoram John Joina, used to come to Namkai and Khamkhai villages every Sunday. He taught something about Jesus and gave New Testaments to some people.

These introductions stirred the Tangsa to look for ways to receive Christianity. Then they reached out to the Sema tribe of Nagaland with whom there had existing relationships.

1968: Turning point to Christianity began. On 11 June, Shri Kamlong Tikhak and his wife of Kamlow village (near Manmow) took baptism at the hand of Evangelist, Jelebe Sema, at Lal Pahar. Wiken Mungray of Phulbari village followed his example on 20 November.

1969: More baptisms occurred. Mr Ringhat Lungkin of Namkai village and Mr Kengi of Khamkhai village became Christians on 14 February. In the same year, Mr Mit Chin Mungray, Mr Thakna Jugli and friends received baptism on 20 March.

1972: on 2 September a meeting was organized under the banner of Tirap Baptist Church Council (TBCC). This was united under one leadership among them. TBCC was later renamed Tangsa Baptist Church Association (TBCA) which remains to this day.

1990: A misunderstanding developed between the leaders of TBCA and Mossang. Hence, a meeting was organized on 29 June that completely separated themselves from the TBCA and called their group, Hewa Baptist Church (HBC).

1991: Further divisions took place. Christian Revival Church (CRC) was formed out of HBC. And Tangsa Presbyterian Church was developed from TBCA on 27 January under the leadership of Ngaimong Hahcheng and Jugli Samgwal.

1996: Between June and July, revival meetings were organized by the TBCA that created troubles instead of revival. As a result the Church of Christ came into existence among the Tangsa. The villages of New Khamlang, Singmao, Ongman, Nairow, Tikhamlang, Injan, Phinbiro, Chamro, Tengmo, Yanchun, Water Pump, Lekhapani, Mallong, Wahra, Yanam, Nalung left the TBCA.

1999: In March under the leadership of TBCA, Mr. Pater Paul (a Bihari person), came and preached in Nampong, Phulbari, Jairampur, Lakla and Miao and took away some educated persons from TBCA.

Finally, the Catholic Church came preaching in Nampong, Miao, Manmow and Jairampur. Many people joined the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church approached with this philosophy: “We’ll not hamper your past Tangsa culture.”

Source: Tangsar Aaina by H.K. Morang, Page 137-44

Haliyeh: Helping a fellow villager

Each society has a way to help one another in farming. Chakma of Deban area have their own style.

They call it Maliyeh or Haori in local Assamese.

This is one whole day help in another person’s work (clearing jungles, weeding, harvest etc). In return the host will help those who helped him.

Once a person realized the work to be done will take a lot of time and he does not not have that amount of time. He will call for a Maliyeh.

He will fix a date. And will go around to seek help from other villagers, one day ahead of the Maliyeh. This invitation is called Sajokorich. (Daily wage earners are not called for this day.)

According to the nature of work, the host will invite men or women. For clearing jungle, only men will come. But anyone can come for weeding or harvest.

On the appointed day, the work begins early in the morning, at 6 or 7 am after breakfast at their own homes. The work will go on till 9 or 10 am. Then they break for a simple lunch the host has organized. The work will resume after lunch till 4 pm.

Then they will go home, take bath and dress well for the dinner.

The evening dinner is called Maliyeh bhat. Meat and good curries are provided. One person can bring one more person to join the party.

Last week when we visited a village, the person’s wife went to a Haliyeh event. She left quite early morning and then came back at lunch to her home. She dried her chillies. Then she went back again after that. In the evening her husband and two young kids went along. They said the host provided mutton, fish and lots of vegetables. Local liquor is an essential event.

It looks like this is a social event and a time of get together rather than business.


Marriage related words in Miju Mishmi language

Last week I learned few words in Mishmi language from a friend who is looking forward to get married soon. I noted down for me to learn and know a bit better about their culture.

1. kmaitlat to take a wife
2. homaitakhat to take a daughter-in-law
3. humai boy/bridegroom
4. hu girl/bride
5. kitsa my son-in-law
6. kintsa our son-in-law
7. kao father-in-law
8. nayi mather-in-law
9. waibayihi theila went to the boy’s house, meaning eloped
10. pharaikhathei the persons as go between boy’s and girl’s families after the elopement. This delegation is always sent from the man’s side. They are responsible to negotiate the demands of the girl’s parents and settle the date for the boy and girl to visit the girl’s parents.
11. boyitanam literally “first entry” meaning the boy and girl visit the girl’s parents for the first time after the elopement. Usually, they bring pigs that are to be eaten while they are together. Girl’s parents pay for whatever they bring. If the party brought several pigs and mithuns, then it is called ngit, the final marriage party.
12. li krang tanam boyitanam is li krang tanam when the party bring live pigs.
13. ngit literally “price” meaning the bride price. This is main party and culmination of the marriage negotiation. After that the process of incorporating the newly wedded couple into the society and families is over.  Payment of price is by mithuns and cattles.


The Dilemma of Chakma People in Arunachal Pradesh

Taking refuge in the State since the 1960s, the Chakma people are nowhere.

Originally, the tribe came in as refugees. And then in 1972, the Central Government decided to grant Indian Citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act. The then Arunachal Government opposed the decision and continues to this day. Later the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) came into forefront of this opposition.

Here is the problem: The Central Government wants to grant Indian Citizenship to the Chakma residing in Arunachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court’s order on 17 September 2015 favoured into giving citizenship to them. But the AAPSU and Arunachal Government have their own point. They say grant them citizenship but do not settle in Arunachal. That’s quite another perspective.

What would happen after the Supreme Court’s judgment? The Union Government and Apex Court are in favour but Arunachal is not. Between the turf of war between the Center and State, people are the worst affected. Unless there are proactive steps to solve the citizenship issue at the governmental level, there is little hope people can expect.

Good articles on their issue:

Stateless people: Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh

Why Chakmas and Hajongs are India’s nowhere people

Chakma Issue Roils Arunachal as Supreme Court Decrees End to Their Statelessness




Lishipa Tribe

The Lishipa are sometimes mentioned as Lish Monpa, Kishpi (autonym), or just Lish.

Perhaps, this is another least known tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The first time I heard was when I met a team of sound recordists who wanted to record stories in the language in 2014. Since then I gain no more learning about them until I started searching for the names of tribes in the State.

The Joshua Project says the “The Lishpa Monpa, who actually call themselves ‘Kishpi’ in their own language, are considered the most different of all the Monpa groups in India.” In that line, the Wikipedia says they are ethnically related to Chugpa and Monpa but linguistically related to Sherdukpen, Sulung, Bugun.

This tribe is found in three villages in Dirang Circle, West Kameng District namely Lish, Lish Gompache and Lish Gompalok.  The Census of India 2011 gave the following population by villages.

No Name of Village Population
1 Lish Village 937
2 Lish Gompache Vill. 203
3 Lish Gompalok 92


On source said the main Lish village is just 2 Miles from Dirang town. Looking at the map, the Kameng River runs through the Dirang Circle. And Dirang Headquarter is a major tourist transit town for those going to Tawang.

This community is adherents of Tibetan Buddhist.

For more information:

  • Those interested from Christian perspective, Joshua Project gives very good description.
  • For a quick overview from the linguistic view, Ethnologue gives good facts.