VERUS FERREIRA was at the Orange Festival of Music and Adventure in Arunachal Pradesh and returned with unforgettable memories of the place.
The fields and mountains around Dambuk, three and a half hours north east of Dibrugarh, are for the most part of the year the playground of cows, goats and orange orchards, with tiny human settlements that comprise mainly the cultivators of the land. But come December and human visitors double up here to stroll in the orchards for the annual Music and Adventure Orange Festival. There’s something about these two words paired together that just feels right. Supported and largely sponsored by Arunachal Pradesh Tourism, festival attendees are encouraged to access the innumerable outdoor opportunities, courtesy National institute for Mountaineering and Adventure Sports (NIMAS) that arranges activities like rappelling, hiking, and whitewater rafting, para sailing, paragliding, scuba diving, in the nearby Dirang and Brahmaputra rivers. The festival also brings together local cuisine and music bands from the North East playing on the same stage as international acts.
Festivities for the four-day fest began on 15 December when the event was inaugurated by Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu. The evening saw the flag-off of the JK Tyres 4X4 fury rally event.
Thereafter the hills came alive with the sound of music as Trance Effect an Indi rock band from Nagaland opened the fest with songs about mental health issues. From then on it was three days of music with bands from across the country showcasing their music. Tamil rock band Jhanu and Nepali singer-songwriter Bipul Chetri and The Travelling Band performed on the first day.
Mornings at the fest were an adrenaline rush for motorsport lovers when a few off-roaders — modified Gypsies and Jeeps engaged in challenging tasks to try and win the JK Tyre Orange 4×4 Fury championship. There were breathtaking moments when the four-wheel drive vehicles performed some daredevil stunts. There was the Log barrier, the swamp crossing, followed by the river crossing, while the final stage was the death-defying river bed run down from a 45 degree hillside and then a rough 75 degree climb to complete the stage. Local favourites, the Manabhum Off-Roaders Club of Arunachal Pradesh, displayed strategic acumen and nerves of steel to win the JK Tyre Orange 4 X 4 Orange Fury title picking up the glittering winners’ trophy as well as Rs 2.5 lakh for their efforts, while last year’s defending champs Gerrari Off-roaders finished a close second.
Back to the music venue on day two and you had local AP bands taking centre stage beginning with indie singer-songwriter Yugo belting out love ditties to Delhi-based Indie/alternative rock band Yesterdrive who played music from the 90’s in keeping with their band name. Mizoram’s This Chord and Mumbai’s Aarifah Rebello swung the mood with heartfelt songs, keeping the original music vibe intact. The Bluegrass Journeymen changed the night with some groovy sounds on tenor sax and trumpet and blistering bluegrass. The five-man army brought in traditional American bluegrass sounds in their set. The night ended with Mumbai favourites Bombay Bassment bringing on a live set they are well known for.