It was tough to say ‘Alruudo’ the last time I uttered that beautiful word as I left the wonderful land of the Galo tribe. Alruudo in Galo means 'Thank you' and I had learnt this word and a few others while interacting with the friendly people of Basar. The fairy land of Basar is a cluster of small villages, home to the Galo tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Basar was my home for a week and its amiable people were my guides with whom I wandered this surreal land. I stayed in their homes, had meals with them, drank Poka with them, wandered through their meandering muddy roads, interacted with the neighbourhood, played with their kids, listened to their stories and joined them on short trails. The day began with 'Aldurey' (How are you?) and nights ended with 'Alruudo'. They made sure that I was a part of their tribe during my week long trip and that was why it was tough to say 'Alruudo' when I left Basar. Though the prime reason to visit this gorgeous land was to attend the Basar Confluence, Basar and its people won my heart in innumerable ways.
Located in the new Lepa Rada district of Arunachal Pradesh, Basar is a small town comprising of 26 villages. Basar and its surrounding villages are home to the Galo, a central eastern Himalayan tribe. It’s a five hour tough drive through the mountainous terrain of Arunachal to reach Basar from Dibrugarh, which houses the closest airport. Though public transportation from Dibrugarh and Silapathar to Basar was infrequent until now, with the opening of the Bogibeel bridge, there are regular sumos and buses plying on this stretch.
The Galo tribe is believed to be descendants of Abotani, the primal ancestor of Tani tribes. They speak the native language Galo, which is a Tibetan Burman language. However, most of them can converse in Hindi or Assamese. Though they mostly inhabit areas centred near Lepa Rada, West Siang and Lower Siang district, small percentage of Galo people are also found in places such as Itanagar, Dibang valley, Subansiri district etc. Donyi-Polo is the prominent religion, and they worship Sun and Moon. However, Christianity is slowly catching up among the younger generation of the tribe. They are mainly into rice cultivation and have been practicing it for ages. Owning Mithuns (a bovine animal similar to an Indian Gaur) is a sign of prosperity among the people of Galo. They were once hunters but presently the act is banned across Basar and the tribe continues to follow the new age rules.