Transcending Boundaries At The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival

© Arif Siddiqui
© Arif Siddiqui
Photo of meghana-biwalkar
9 February 2017

The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival celebrates the extravagant and diverse tribes of Northeast India and Myanmar and compels them to perform folk dances and songs, revealing their unique customs and culture over the course of a three-day festival.

‘Love the moment and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries.’ – Corita Ken

The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival will make you believe this truth. In fact, it will leave you with no choice but to simply fall in love with the moment, the place, the people, the food, and just about everything. Going beyond geographical boundaries, the Pangsau Pass Winter festival promises to be a celebration of cultures of the local tribes from Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar (Burma).

This winter festival was started to bring the two nations together. The door of the famous Pangau Pass that connects the last town of Arunachal Pradesh – Nampong – and Burma, were first opened for a three-day festival in 2007. The festival brings back the magnificent olden years of the local tribes. During these three days, the area turns into a global village, breaking all the social barriers. In 2016 the fanfare is expected to be much larger; the festival has reopened its doors after a gap of two years.

© Arif Siddiqui

Last time around, in 2013, the festival saw the extraordinary chronicles of the ethnic culture, cuisines, and the environmental surroundings. The festival uncovered the Tangsa tribes, their multi-layer contours, and strange customs and civilization. Travelers and visitors were in for a treat, seeing dances like the Tangsa Rongrang War Dance, Lungchang Dance of Changlang, Wancho Dance, the Assamese Bihu Dance, and the Mizo Bamboo Dance.

The Pangsau Pass Winter Festival is a great place for outsiders to view the wonders, excitement, and novelties that exist along the often inaccessible terrain of the Patkai and the Himalayan Ranges. Pangsau Pass lies on the crest of the Patkai Hills on the India-Burma (Myanmar) border. The pass offers one of the easiest routes to Burma from the Assam plains through Jairampur town of Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh.

The historical Stillwell Road that traverses the emerald Patkai region is known for the colorful Tangsa tribe. This pass is also known for its abundant flora and fauna reserves. The historic Pangsau Pass largely came into the limelight after the celebration of the cultural grandeur in the form of the Winter Festival.

Balloons over Myanmar | © Paul Arps/Flickur

Just as in all the past events, 2016 promises a three-day extravaganza with a mix of folk songs and warrior dances, art, craft, ethnic food, traditional sports, and more. The festival also brings together artisans, who showcase handloom and handicraft from both Arunachal Pradesh and Burma. What’s more is that the tribes are known for their warm hospitality. They are all heart, and they are happy to open their world to you and other curious outsiders. The Winter Festival is a bag full of surprises. All you need is enthusiasm and plenty of time to enjoy the uniqueness on display.

There is more to this three-day extravaganza: revisit history with the World War II cemetery, the border bazaar, and The Lake of No Return. This undiscovered, unexplored, beautiful mountain state promises to surprise you at every step.

Here, you’ll be whisked away by the fresh fragrances of wood and rare orchids, to name a couple of the botanical delights. Come along to share the simplicity, the tribal spirit, and the environmental existence of this unexplored land.

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