Singing Out Loud In Ziro

Stepping into Ziro is like waking up inside a pleasant dream. Vast stretches of fields, wooden homes that stand peacefully amidst their own stretch of land, punctuated with trees that look dramatically perfect, whether laden with blooms during the Spring, or turning colour for the Fall. A valley surrounded by hills, and blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Ziro has pleasant weather throughout the year. Just about fifteen kilometres in radius, it is accessible through a shared Sumo from Itanagar, the capital city of Arunanchal, a journey that usually takes about six hours.

In our case, those were adventure filled hours, because our driver seemed to have had a couple of drinks too many for the road. Having just gotten married, we were keen that our “happily ever after” shouldn’t be so short lived, and of course, a bit of anxiety ensued. Fortunately, we lived and even managed to laugh through the journey, and met our dashing host, Bobby Hano, after a bit of communication lapse, near the Ziro bus station.

Bobby’s reassuring smile, and the quaint beauty of Ziro made us forget our near-death experience through the journey. You can’t stay troubled in a place like this. This was early 2012, and the weather was cool, if not cold. Ziro was getting ready to host its annual “Myoko” Festival, which, to an average traveller, involves a lot of singing, playing the guitar, and drowning in the locally made rice wine, which looks innocent enough, but is potent enough to hit you hard. Real hard.

Not as innocent as it looks 

Myoko is celebrated every year in Ziro, amongst the three Apatani communities, Diibo-Hija, Hari Bulla and Hong, on rotational basis. A lot of tradition has evolved around the festival, with the tribal shaman being the star of the festivities. Wearing a traditional haircut and clothes, he heads the rituals that involve the slaughtering of numerous chickens and pigs. A word on the Apatani tribe of Arunanchal is needed here. Apart from being the most awesome and generous hosts to clueless travellers, they are nature worshippers, and have a unique agricultural system, centred on using the resources judiciously to gain maximum production. They are known for the meticulous care they take of their fields, and for a just and balanced distribution of responsibilities among men and women.

It takes a special kind of folks to have their primary annual festival celebrating joy and friendship, and that’s what Myoko essentially is all about. Old friendships are inherited and celebrated, and new friendships are created and nurtured.

 Bobby working his magic with the guitar

 And strangers become friends for life 

 Nobody is sober here

 Bobby explains the Myoko festival

 Dance, till you can't dance any more! 

Singing out aloud, and completely out of tune

And all it takes to be a friend here is honest intent, an open heart, and a willingness to laugh, mostly at yourself. So, over the next few days, my husband, close friend Ritika Mittal, and I ended up listening to young Apatani boys sing Bollywood songs, while the women of the household ensured that our glasses never ran out of the rice wine, and we had ample fuel to make complete fools of ourself. It worked beautifully for everyone, because few memories are created when you are being an absolute control freak who knows exactly where she kept her mobile phone and her designer bag.

Be prepared to overdose on boiled eggs, and freshly made home-cooked food. And don’t forget to sing, laugh and dance. Ziro isn’t a place for the mellow and the forlorn. It’s a place that nature celebrates, and has endowed with spirited people.

The annual music festival has now made Ziro a well known name, at least among the urban music lover. But our memories of this magical valley precede that – to nights of joyous singing, stumbling on our way back to the car, taking almost an hour to reach our home-stay which was 15 minutes away, and most importantly, being welcomed into Bobby’s family, like loved ones, like old friends, like folks who never left. And indeed, we never left, because in Ziro, a part of you will live on, like the “happily ever-after” most dream of, but few achieve. 

These are the folks I want to see again!


  1. Thanks for sharing these awesome pics...
    They look joyful!

    1. The pictures in no way capture even half the joy experienced! I am glad you enjoyed them. Ziro is beautiful!

  2. Looks a very nice place, and you guys definitely seemed to have enjoyed a lot. And I definitely enjoyed reading it a lot :) :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I really loved being there.

  3. Soooo inspiring!!! WOWOWO!! Looks sooo amazing!
    xoThe Beckerman Girls


  4. Oh wow, this looks stunning. I can almost feel the vibrance and energy through these photos. How lovely!

    1. It's a fabulous place to be in. The people are so warm and generous.

  5. Thanks for sharing this one.. (y)

  6. This looks like such a great community of people full of sharing, laughter, and hard work. Thanks for sharing.

  7. अरुणाचल की सड़कों से लौटकर वापस आता है उसकी यही कहानी होती है। स्थानीय लोगों के साथ मौज मस्ती भरी शाम का विवरण पढ़ना अच्छा लगा।

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  9. Beautiful place and beautiful people... <3


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