The Padams, Milangs, Komkars, Minyongs and Pasis collectively call themselves as ADI meaning hill people. The Adi constitute major group and inhabit the lower part of Lower Dibang Valley district especially Roing and Dambuk areas. Akin to one another, they speak a same dialect, claim a common origin and also perform and celebrate same rituals and festivals.
The Adi trace their origin from Pedong Nane, the ancestral mother of Tani-the man. Pedong Nane was the great grand daughter of Sedi Melo the creator.
From a distance, village appears like an assemblage of huts with jackfruit trees in and around the surrounding. Houses are constructed in rows with ample space and passages for emergency purposes demonstrating a sense of planning. At the center of the village is the council hall called DERE or MOSUP where social and cultural affairs of the village are discussed. Granaries are constructed preferably at the village outskirts to avoid fire accidents.
Houses are supported by wood and bamboo structure with raised floor (CHANG) of well splited bamboo over beams supported with wooden or bamboo stilts. Rough or sawn planks or bamboo splits are used as walls with thatch or palm leave for roofing.
The house is big hall with hearth (Merom) at the center where members sit together and all cooking activities are done.Along the sidewall is an attached and extended room for pigsty.
Handicrafts of the Adis are best seen in their cane and bamboo works. Baskets, trays, haversacks, mats and hats and headgears with artistic designs are produced for domestic use.Women are expert weavers. Their home productions, like coats, jackets, bags, skirts, shawls and blankets displaying their abilities in handloom.
The Adis are basically dependent on agriculture. Both wet rice cultivation and shifting cultivation are practiced. Hills and slopes are terraced while the dry-lands are used to grow cash crops like Maize and Mustards. Abundant growth and production of crops have made them economically self-sufficient.Agriculture implements are simple consisting of Dao, axe, spade, dibbles and scrappers. Ploughing is known but use of modern mechanisms and fertilizers are recent innovations.Besides, fishing and hunting are carried out to supplement food. Fishing at large scale by group is done by diverting the water flow of a branch of the stream from the main flow. The water is barricaded with leaves and gravels at the diversion point. Netting and trapping is other method of catching fish.Both shot guns and traps are used for hunting. Use of bows and arrows has become rare. Besides birds, rats and squirrels, the big games include wild boar and various kinds of deer.
Rice, meat and green vegetables, preferably boiled, constitute the main food items. Tea is common. Of the intoxicants, home brewed beer (Apong) is commonly taken without any age or sex bar.
Property and Inheritance:
Besides land and residential buildings, beads, pots and dishes of brass, daos/swords, spears and guns are considered valuable possessions. Of the animals, Mithun is considered precious for socio-religious activities and even payment of compensations against wrongs done. A family also boast/claim over their bamboo groves and jackfruit trees. Holding and running of business shops and commercial buildings, small industrial units etc. are however, emerging as a new property concept among the people. The society is Patrilineal and Patriarchal. Still, daughters get share of clothes, some movable properties like bead necklaces or any other items they themselves have earned during their stay in the parental house.
Festivals:The main festivals are Solung (1st September), Etor (15 May) and Aaran (7 March), which are celebrated for days together. Animals like Mithun and Pig are sacrificed, birds and wild animals are hunted and also huge quantities of local rice beer prepared and consumed. Feasts are hosted, offerings made to deities. Relatives, neighbors, friends and guests are entertained with utmost hospitality. Songs and dances are performed for nights together.
Dances performed are in-group lead by a main singer (Miri). Popular dances are the Ponung, Delong, Yakjong and Tapu, which is in-fact, a war dance. Ponung is however most common of all the dances.
The Adi tribe is organized into a number of clans. Clan is determinant of the social relationship and kinship.
Family is the lowest unit of social organization and nuclear in character. After marriage, elders siblings separate and establish new local residence while the youngest stay back and look after the old parents.
Monogamy is the common form of marriage, though polygamy is socially restricted. A marriage arranged by parents and elders is considered ideal and decent though selecting a partner by initiating a love affair is also popular and common.
A marriage union is recognized with payments of bride price and the items (Kepel) include meat either dried or raw, fish, rats, squirrels and rice beer.
Every village has a village council called Kebang, which looks after the administration of the village. It is represented by appointed headmen (Goan Burah or Gam) and village elders. The council decides disputes and also directs developmental and welfare activities concerning the village. In-fact, the council is traditional political organization on which the internal administration of the village is based and which maintains peace and order in the society.
Sedi-Melo is regarded as the creator but is neither worshipped nor followed as source of attain spiritual purity and eternity. Rather, they believe in and worship DONYI-POLO, the Sun-Moon duality. To them, Donyi-Polo is not the physical Sun and Moon but an unseen supreme power, which is omni-present, omniscient and omnipotent. On the other hand, the people also believe in the existence of numbers of spirits, which are both malevolent and benevolent.
Disposal of Dead:
Dead bodies are buried. Body is washed and dressed with new clothes and at-least kept for a night. Mourners (Penge) are sometime engaged. Dead bodies from accidental or un-natural deaths are disposed off as early as possible in separate graveyard.