Ziro Festival of Music (ZFM) , an annual music festival held in the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India, concluded on September 25, witnessing delightful participation from music lovers and travellers from all over.
An annual music festival was held in the enigmatic Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Taking a cue from international festivals, this festival has been an annual fixture since 2012, gaining popularity across the globe. Bringing together music lovers and adventure-seekers at this mesmerising landscape that looks like a Renaissance painting of a lazy countryside in golds, browns and greens, the ZFM is also a camping enthusiast’s paradise.
Situated in the lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, the music festival commenced on September 22 and concluded on September 25. Home to the Apatani tribe, a part of the Tani tribes in Arunachal, the Ziro Valley came alive during the festival. Members of the tribe leave no stone unturned to spoil all the guests with their legendary hospitality.
Acts that performed included the popular blues band Soulmate, on the first day of the festival that had free entry for all. International acts for the festival included Shye Ben Tzur from Israel collaborating with Rajasthan Express and Gramlines from Italy who mesmerised the crowds with their energy. Dawda Jobarteh, originally from Gambia and part of the famous musical dynasty from there, moved the festival goers to tears with his soulful performance on the Kora instrument, and added, “I share the joys and sorrows of music with songs about peace and love.”
Festival goers stayed on campsites located at the festival ground as well as in the nearby villages, with operators such as Kite Manja putting up tents on hire and offering space for travellers to bring their own tents. “We have been providing camping equipments at the ZFM since the year of its inception, and this year we are also hosting Gul Panag,” said Jnandip Borghain, founder of the organisation. Gul Panag took to Instagram to share an image of her at the camp site.
Sushmita Gohain, a freelance fashion photographer, travelled on her own to the festival, to soak in the atmosphere at Ziro. “It is my first time at a music festival, but it has been a nice experience so far,” she said.
The festival had seen attendance from locals, other Indian nationals and foreigners. A French tourist said, “I have been travelling in India for a while now. I came to this festival on suggestion and it has been great to explore the place and the people.”
For a lot of locals from the Northeast of India, the festival has provided them with a real experience of a large scale festival in a picturesque natural setting “This is the Woodstock of the East. You cannot miss the festival if you’re a music lover,” said a festival attendee, raising a toast of local kiwi wine to celebrate.
A wide array of options
Apart from the musical attractions, the festival had an array of stalls offering local products and information on tourism in Arunachal Pradesh, which still remains unexplored by both domestic and foreign tourists. The festival saw a collaborative effort of government ministries such as Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region in India.
Bamboo was the material of choice as an eco-friendly material for installation of the stage and stalls at the festival. With efforts from Minam Apang and Dhruv Tripathi, a sculpture was also present at the venue that was a great attraction for many.
The food stalls at the festival offered both local to international delicacies, and a few quirky items on the menu, such as grasshoppers for snacks. Local drinks such as rice beer, apong beer as well as kiwi wine were widely available at the venue. “Among the number of things available at the festival, the food was great, especially the pork,” said a group of travellers from Shillong, who were at the festival for the first time.
The independent and organic nature of the festival was evident not only in terms of the musicians who showcased their talents but also by the absence of big corporations taking over through sponsorships. Sahaj Umang, artist manager for the Ziro Festival pointed out, “We are not a commercial entity. You will not see any corporate logos here. The idea is to promote independent music.”
The ZFM was a vibrant, lively experience for all, out in the pristine lush surroundings of the Ziro valley, and music lovers look forward to more such events.