Abotani, or Abu Tani, is considered the primal ancestor of the Tani (tribes) group of people in Arunachal Pradesh, such as the Apatani, the Nyishi, The Adi, Galo and the Tagin.They follow the Donyi-Polo religion and consider Abotani as the one who firstly introduced the technique of rice cultivation.

The following story is told orally through priests (Miri) among the Adi people:

In older time Abo Tani (Abo or Abu: father, Tani: human) has wandered in forest for want of food. Once he went to Takar-Taji's place (Tatar-Taji) marriage ceremony where a bos frontalis (sebbe) was sacrificed. Due to a trick of Aabhu Thanyi, Takar-Taji could sacrifice only one gaur, which was meagre for distribution to the guest. Aabhu Tani's dog (Kipung) and the deer (Dumpo) shared a packet of rotten soya seeds (staple food in olden days, as the use of rice millet and maize was unknown in those days). This led to quarrel between Kipung and Dumpo. Dumpo the deer kicked the soya seed packet and ran away. Angry, Kipung the dog chased the deer. Abotani had to follow both them. After many days Dumpu the deer landed in the world of Digo Ane ("Keeper of Land"; digo "land", Ane "mother") where people were scattering the rice powder set on sun for drying. Duumpoo the deer was caught by these people; Kiipu the dog followed and was caught; Abotani followed them and was also caught by the peoples of Digo Ane. The three were imprisoned. After many days Abotani played a trick: he put a dead mole rat in his armpit and acted as if he were dying. This worried the Digo Ane people, lest the act may anger the Takar-Taji people, and they freed Abotani and granted him the gift of rice, millet and maize seed.

Many other legends between the Tanii people speak about Abotani's stories: a woman in the Digo Ane region told him how to cultivate the rice seeds;[1] Aabhu Thanyi had a lot of success in his rice cultivation thanks to his wise wife Aio Diiliang Diibiu;[2] however, he divorced from her to marry another woman, and this brought disgrace to his wealth because the new wife was too much after leisures[3]; when Abotani realized this, he left also the second wife and continued the cultivation on his own, but still he had to ask for the help of his sister to be saved from the danger of falling from the top of a high tree where he had climbed (http://arunachalipr.gov.in/StateFestival_Dree.htm). Events in the legendary life of Aabhu Tani and in his quest for rice are part of the traditions of the Tani people and are celebrated in different periods of the year (following the rice cultivation season). Aabhu Tani is a symbol of the struggle of humankind for food and prosperity though in difficult situations, and of the need for harmony between man and woman to bring wealth to the family.

See also


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