Although a number of tribal groups constitute the
total population, the density of the population is only eight per sq.
km. There are as many as 25 tribal groups that contribute to the human
mass in the state! All the individual tribes have a rich cultural
heritage and the government is making all out efforts in helping
conserve their traditional heritage. The society of Arunachal is
patriarchal and primogeniture and the fundamental laws of inheritance
with variations are not uncommon. They follow endogamy and strictly
observe the rule of clan exogamy. Polygamy is socially sanctioned and
practiced by most of them. The people are highly democratic, and each
tribe has its own organised institutions that maintain law and order,
decide disputes and take up all activities for the welfare of the
tribes and the villages. The members constituting these organisations
are selected by the people.
The entire population of the state can be divided into three cultural groups on the basis of their socio-politico-religious affinities. It has been found that the tribes of Arunachal were integrated into groups independent of each other, living their separate lives. The common denominators were that the pattern of lifestyle of each were the same and that they followed the same occupation; the societies were casteless; the societies were governed by chiefs and the adults grouped according to their age for distinct social functions and the young organised around dormitory institutions to act as the implementing instruments of the decisions and instructions of the older generation.
Arunachal is home to 26 major and numerous minor
tribes with rich cultural traditions.
There are three kinds of religions practised here. Monpas and Sherdak Pens in Kameng and Tawang district who came in contact with Tibetan in the north, adopted Lamaism of the Buddhist faith, while the Khamptis in Lohit district practice Mahayana Buddhism. The second group, Noctes and Wanchos in Tirap district, whose long association with the Assamese in the south, converted them to Hinduism. The third group comprises of Adi, Abas, Apatanis, Nyishi, etc. - a large majority of the total population, who maintain their ancient belief and indigenous concepts of nature and worship the Donyi-Polo (The Sun & Moon).
Festivals are an essential part of the socio-cultural life of the people. The festivals are connected with agriculture and celebrated with ritualistic gaiety either to thank god for his providence or to pray for a bumper harvest. The large fairs and festivals are linked with the people and religions. The festivals celebrated by the Arunachalees mirror the people, culture, their artistic genius and skill in music and dance which is a vital element in the life of every tribe.
The people of Arunachal Pradesh have a tradition of artistic craftmanship and sense of aesthetics manifested through a variety of crafts such as weaving, painting, pottery, smithy work, basket making, wood carving, etc.
Monpas are known for their artistry in carpet weaving and making painted wooden vessels. Beautiful rugs are also woven in the area. Vivid colours and exquisite patterns are the hallmark of their weaving.
Apatanis, Hills Miris and Adis make attractive articles in cane and bamboo. The Wanchos are famous for their wood and bamboo carved figurines. They also make intricate necklaces of colourful beads, the width of which indicate the status of the person they adorn.
Arunachal Pradesh is the destination for the cultural tourist.