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ANADI SEMINAR

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Adi Bari: A Performative Art

Talom Rukbo

 

An Adi girl weaving exquisite designs at her home in Kabu village

Bari is a popular chorus song of male folk of the Adi which is performed during pime (Autumn) and unying-aaran (New Year festivals and New house ceremony) by sitting around the fire. The song is led by a main singer, followed by a group of people. bari has its particular characteristic lores of different types and varies from low to high like that of kawali and raga. The lores are very much classical, which cannot be picked up easily.

 

The bari performed in pime festival during autumn season is called barbi yi ying or podi pitpo bar. Here autumn season is described as a parting point of summer. Insects like snake, leech, mosquitos, etc. disappear during autumn season. The term barbi yiying is given after the name of an insect which appears on earth in autumn and disappears at the advent of spring. One of the main themes of this barbi yiying bari dwells at length on the life of this insect which was mysteriously born or found as a hard piece of meat from the thigh of a giant wild boar called gumgons. It was killed by the people who later became anxious to examine it. They boiled it in a bamboo chunga but it did not go soft like other meat. They went on boiling it for days together but it remained as hard as before. So they put it on bannana tree. At its touch, the bannana tree went dry. This was a great shock to the people and they put it on a hollock tree.They got the same result. They then put it on a flat stone, the stone broke into pieces. They threw it into the water, water started boiling and soon dried out. At their wit's end they threw it towards a mountain. After a few days they peeped into the cave and heard a sweet voice. Anxious to know the source of the sweet voice, they invited priests from various places. But none could find out. Lastly, a priest called Sedi Relong Lotin Tabe detected that it was the very piece of meat that was thrown into the cave and it had transformed into a living creature and it was that creature which was singing. The insect was named after the priest, as Sedi Relong Lotin. The Adis believe that the insect took shape in autumn season, therefore it appears in the autumn season. It goes round the world singing with its sweet voice, causing natural changes.

The summer season disappears and dry season takes over; the green garment of the earth turns into yellow; dry season opens all roads and paths of movement of all natural creatures, so freely they move out; all poisonous insects are sealed up and all green fruits/grains are ready for food.

All these natural events are considered as the effects of the sweet song of the insect and blessing of the insect. Therefore, barbi yiying is regarded as a great messenger of natural changes and events. All these are described vividly/lively by the bari singer during pime Festival.

 

The next season and subject of bari is unying-aaran festival in winter season. Mythologically and philosophically, winter is called nyanyi the old aunt. Aaran festival is supposed to be brought by this old aunt from the land of koojum-kooja. (a civilised group of people of early days). It is beleived that people disappeared from the earth after a great battle against the spirit of water, when villages were eroded by water. Only the soul remained, koojum-nyanyi-meete, who came to human society with all festivals celebrated by the people of koojum-kooja. Here the winter is personified as living being by bari. It is said that the crust of the earth makes all arrangement of passages for quick and easy movement of nyanyi-meete (winter) to pass away from the earth. Therefore, green leaves become dry, river water turns dry, and the snow clad mountains welcome the mankind to arrange feast for nyanyi-meete.

Sometimes winter is regarded as a rich, kind and peaceful lady who brings happiness, peace and prosperity to mankind. Further she is supposed to bring some functionary duties as gifts to mankind and hand it over to new year (spring season) which again are inter-transferred to mankind by nature.

The gifts brought by nyanyi-meete are the arts of weaving, cultivation, festival, celebration, marriage ceremony, song and dance, and house construction.

In bari the spring season is regarded as a maiden girl or daughter of the year. As only daughter of the family (The New Year) she has taken over the above functionary duties from old aunt. As the first duty of the New Year, she puts new clothes to the Mother Earth and then the rest is left to mankind.

Bari is not only in touch with nature it has touch with spiritual aspects also. In Adi belief, house or home is regarded as the abode of souls of the family members with the beli; that it is the abode of household god (gumin soyin) who looks after the welfare of family. Therefore, house is always addressed as a personified being or spirit as follows : gumin babu (grand father gumin), soyin naane (grand mother soyin), gumin yaayi (father gumin), and soyin maami (mother soyin), gumin aji (baby gumin), and soyin olo (baby soyin)

In bari, the old house is addressed to as an old soul wearing old garment and the new house is addressed as a well-dressed newly born baby. The ceremonial feast is regarded as birth day feast and the ceremonial songs are treated as blessing and lullaby of the new house. Then the building materials - bamboo, wood, cane, leaves - are treated as limbs of natural creature like bone, veins, nails, hair etc. Thus there is spiritual attachment in the bari of new house ceremony.

During peak season of bari, among the experts, competition is held sometimes to test knowledge of various aspects of bari subject like mythology, philosophical back ground of creation of plants, animals, festivals etc.

Bari can be classified mainly into three types called ritok bari, nenem bari and, rellok bari. Every type of bari has its own characteristic tunes with different accent.

Thus the Adis also have their own traditional art of expressing all their philosophies of life and nature through bari songs enriching their cultural life. Therefore, bari is regarded and given a high status in the cultural realm of the Adis.

 

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