In Dima Hasao, festivals are not about ritualistic events.
They are all about emotions and bonding.
The people of
believe in an emotional contact.
has many moods and many hues.
And people celebrate each mood, which is reflected through the
DIMA HASAO: The Land of Gorgeous Festivals
- Zahid Ahmed Tapadar
A land nestled in myths and mysteries, lore's and legends, Dima
is almost another world, the coloured wonderland of India. Dima
Hasao, the predominantly tribal district is blessed with Borail
range, deep valleys and rich flora and fauna. Dima Hasao - the
enchanting Shangrila in the North East of India, is a mixing pot
where culture, heritage, tradition, lifestyle, faith and belief of
her numerous tribes & sub-tribes, drawn from various hives at
different points of time have gone into form the unique culture - a
fascinating and exotic recipe of delightful flavour.
The culture of Dima Hasao is a rich tapestry infused with multi-coloured
yarns of distinguished heritage of all the races that populate her.
The main constituents of the hilly tribes living in Dima Hasao are
the Dimasas, the Zeme Nagas, the Hmars, the Kukis, the Biates, the
Karbis, the Khasis, the Harangkhols, the Vaiphes , the Khelmas and
the Rongmei Nagas. Besides, a sizeable number of other non-tribal
people like Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Manipuri, Deswali and others
have also chosen Dima Hasao as their abode.
The people of Dima Hasao are in fact the
result of fusion of people from different racial stocks who migrated
to Dima Hasao down the ages.
The superb blend of heritage extracted from numerous races have made
Dima Hasao the home to the most colourful festivals at once blazing,
compelling and mesmerizing.
The perfect combination of heritage of her
multifaceted races have made Dima Hasao the home of the most colourful festivals which are enthusiastic, compelling and
enchanting, exhibiting the true spirit, tradition and lifestyle of
the people of Dima Hasao. Some tribe or the other has a celebration
throughout the year. Every
social community of this District celebrates number of festivals
that’s why Dima Hasao has a large
number of colourful festivals of its own replete with fun, music and
dances. Most of the festivals
celebrated in Dima Hasao have their base in the multifarious faith
and belief of its inhabitants.
one really wants to understand Dima Hasao - they will have to just
follow the festivals of all the colourful tribes of the district.
Nothing captures the essence of Dima Hasao better than these special
Hasao, festivals are not about ritualistic events. They are all
about emotions and bonding. The people of Dima Hasao believe in an
emotional contact. Dima Hasao has many moods and many hues. And
people celebrate each mood, which is reflected through the seasons.
Festivals form an essential aspect of Socio-Cultural life of the
people of Dima Hasao. As a matter of fact, festivals of Dima Hasao
reflect the real culture and tradition of the people of Dima Hasao.
The festivals of Dima Hasao are generally - agricultural, religious
and socio-cultural, which give them ample opportunity to enjoy and
entertain freely. Most of these festivals in Dima Hasao revolve round
agriculture, which is still the main occupation of tribal society.
Although some religious and spiritual sentiments are inter-woven
into secular rites and rituals, the predominant theme of the
festivals is offering of prayers to a God. The concept behind all
these festivals is simple but powerful: acknowledging with gratitude
whatever is the source of their livelihood. Through the festivals,
communities try to propitiate God, for a bountiful harvest either
before the sowing or before reaping the harvest. Dima Hasao is
replete with festivities throughout the year as all the tribes have
their own festivals which they greatly enjoy. The people of Dima
Hasao celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with glitter, colour, music and fanfare.
festivals of Dima Hasao speak of its rich cultural and traditional
background. The colorful festivals are an integral part of every
people of Dima Hasao. The festivals play an important part in
promoting the traditional handicrafts of Dima Hasao. Every community
celebrates their festival according to their own customs and
rituals. The commonness in all the celebration is that it celebrates
humanity. Some of the common rituals, which are followed in most of
the festivals, are processions in the streets, decoration of homes
and sacred places and traditional and folk song and dance
performances. Most religious festivals have elaborate prayers,
traditions, customs and rituals attached to them. The elaborate
celebration and the multitude of festivals in Dima Hasao, each with
their own unique legends and significances often awe the outsiders
who come to visit Dima Hasao.
is the sum total of the colour, the vibrancy and the rich flavours
that blend as seamlessly as her celebrated diversity. The mystery
and mystique of this Land of Blue Hills lies in the fact that, here
people celebrate life every day, and they do that by weaving the
thread of tradition into the fabric of contemporary culture.
With a view to highlight the real culture and tradition of the
people of Dima Hasao - which is always in
of harmony and equalness, we have compiled articles on the various
Festivals of the people of Dima Hasao.
also a humble attempt to acquaint the people of the plains with the
socio-cultural-religious life of the hill tribes as well as for
documentation of the festive mood of the people of Dima Hasao.
included articles on the colourful festivals of the Dimasa, Zeme
Naga, Hmar, Kuki, Hrangkhol, Rongmei Naga, Karbi, Jaintia, Biate and
Vaiphei communities of Dima Hasao.
compilation of “Festivals of Dima Hasao” we bring to you the coloue,
gaiety, enthusiasm, prayers and rituals that mark the festivals of
all the tribes of Dima Hasao. We are thankful to all the contributors
and all others associated with this project.
It would be our proud privilege to receive
feedback and suggestions on our compilation from the learned
readers. Feedback may be sent through e-mail to
. Our objective would be fulfilled
if this compilation receives due attention and affection from the
FESTIVAL OF THE DIMASAS
- Ramdina Lalsim
The Dimasas of
Dima Hasao, being
agrarian people, celebrate various agricultural festivals in
different ways and at different times. Mostly Dimasas inhabiting
North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong districts are successful in
preserving their age old traditional religious beliefs and practices
in and through the celebration of several festivals, with some
exceptions, due to being Hinduised.
Dimasa festival can be categorized into community festivals and
local festivals. The local festivals are performed by each village
separately, and participation is restricted to the people of the
village concerned. The community festivals are Misengba and
Busu, while local festivals are Korongfang Gerba and
joyous harvesting festival)
festivals of the Dimasas, Busu is the gayest and the most
important community festival. The festival is usually celebrated in
the month of January, when all sort or Works of the jhum are
completed. Thus the Busu is an occasion for relaxation from
hard toils. It can, therefore be termed as harvesting festival or a
festival of rejoicing and merry making. Hence the participation in
this celebration is not restricted to any one. The festival may be
celebration at an agreed time according to the convenience of the
village people. But since 1994 as per the decision of Dimasa
community of Dima Hasao, the Autonomous Council of Dima Hasao had
officially declared 27th January as Busu festival
Busu festival may be divided into three categories:-
the Busu is celebrated for three days, it is called
is observed for five days, it is called Surem Baino
When it is observed for seven days it is called Hangseu
festivities they used to make a “heih-ho” (Haoba) as
to mark the grand festivities and ceremony.
give in details the following categories:-
is generally observed for three days. It is celebrated under the
guidance of the leadership of the Khunnag or Gaonbura.
The first day is called mi-staiba meaning slaughtering
day of animals for feast. The animal is slaughtered in the
morning and in the afternoon they held a community feast called
Khalaima khamba in the house of Khunang. When the
sun goes down the competition called Baiba Bdailaiba
consisting of singing, dancing and playing musical instruments
of Muree are held in the court yard of the bachelor’s
traditional house called Nodrung. The bonfire is lit in
the middle of the dancing ground which lightens the ground and
serves to warm up them selves from the cold night. The best
dancers and Muree players are given prizes. The whole
night is then passed in dancing and merry making.
second day is called Busuma, meaning the main Busu
day. It is on this day the children or juniors pay respect and
adoration, to their parents or elders. It is done individually
or collectively. This kind of ceremonial blessing is called
Busu Gaba, and is usually undertaken before the mid noon.
The whole day passed in eating meat and drinking rice beer. In
the afternoon the traditional long-jump called Harong baiba
and Shot-put or longthailemba are played in a
particular selected level area. The game is meant only for the
senior married persons, naturally householder. Interestingly the
declared hero or winner has to entertain the villagers with rice
beer and meat.
the third and last day young boys and young girls pay a house to
house visit by singing and dancing in the courtyard of the
selected well to do persons of the village. Whatever they
collect either in cash or in kind from this process is
eventually used for their feast. In the evening or at the dawn
of the morning according to the instructions of the village
priest they end their dance and playing musical instruments. On
behalf of his village the priest then perform Gerba on
the main road of the village by sacrificing a fowl to the deity
of the village for omissions and commission during the
festivals. This is called Lamphungba, and by sacrificing
this ritual means the end of the festival.
generally celebrated for five days. Surem Baino, unlike the
Busu Jidap, is celebrated under the guidance of Gajaibao
not of the Khunang or Gaonbura. When a village is
supposed to observe the Surem Baino, they would have
to elect or select the Gajaibao or leader or guardian for it
long before the celebration. The Busu celebration is then
undertaken in the courtyard of Gajaibao. The function like
dancing, singing is also held in the compound of Gajaibaos
whereas in the jidap they observe in the Nodrung.
These are the differences between jidap and Surem Baino.
Busu, the most joyous festival of the Dimasas are celebrated
widely through its stages of Jidap or Surem. But the
third and the grandest category Hangseu Manaoba is mostly
celebrated by a large village where there are large numbers of
Hangseu or youths. As Haangseu Manaoba is to be
celebrated for seven days or seven nights without stopping of the
Khrams (drums) and Muree (trumpet), music, dance,
feasting and drinking, therefore the undertaking of this particular
category needs a sound economy and healthy background of the
village. Due to this the youths take initiative to collect fund long
before its celebration. They therefore sometimes engaged as day
labourers in the jhum of their fellow farmers for fund
raising. Some village youths sometime even make a special jhum for
this purpose and thus produce like vegetables, pumpkins, chillies,
paddy etc. which are used for the occasion. Provision for sufficient
quantities of meat, and rice beer- Zudima, Plantain leafs,
Pontho-bamboo cups, firewood for the whole night’s bonfire as well
as for cooking for the whole seven days have to be making by the
youths accordingly. Busu being termed as community festival
of merriment, generally the entire responsibility of the celebration
is borne by the youths of the village. Throughout the celebration
period the village people observe holidays called Genna,
meaning restricted holiday. During the celebration of Busu
the village people do not go out for work or take up any kind of
journey. Each and every one has to try their level best not to spoil
the festivity spirit but to celebrate in its fullest way, which
ought to be made.
It is in
this Hangseu Manaoba as a mark of festivities and reception;
the youths use to erect the traditional welcome gate called
Fangsla, at the main entrance gate of the village. The
Fangsla is wholly constructed with a bamboo, which is
artistically designed and decorated with a splattered bamboo itself.
In the by one days the Fangsla is supposed to be constructed
only during the Hangseu Busu, not on the surem or
jidap. But now a day, whether it is Jidap or Surem,
one can see the Fangsla in the celebration of Busu,
especially in the urban areas.
celebration of Hangseu Manaoba is led under the guidance of
selected leader Gajaibao. Besides this leader, they also have
boys’ leader called Nagahoja and girls’ leader called
Mathlahoja. In Dimasa, young boys or men are called Nagarao
and young girls or women are called Mathlarao. Hangseu
or Hangso is a youth organization of which both the
Nagarao and Mathlarao are members. They therefore work
hard day and night under the guidance of the said three leaders to
make the Hangseu Manaoba Busu a grand success.
first day is called Hangseu Busu Rajini Sthaiba, which means
the slaughtering day of animals by the village elders. In the
morning g the village deities are pacified by offering sacrifices
either pigs, fowls or goats by the elders group. As each village has
its own patron Madais, it therefore, is difficult to mention
the names of the Madais here to whom the people would offer.
But in every ritual Sibrai is remembered, as he is specially
considered as the main deity of the Dimasas. The Madais are
offered sacrifices to bless the celebration of the festival so that
no accident or untoward incidents take place during the time of
celebration. After the ritual ceremony is over a portion of the
sacrificial meat are then cook in the house of Khunang or
Gajaibao, and the rest are distributed to each household as per
their contribution. Then the village elder would feast together by
eating the meat and drinking the rice beer. The youths and children
are not allowed to join this feast, it is purely sacramental one.
This is called Mido garba.
second day is called Nagaraoni Sithaiba, which means
slaughtering day of the animals by the youths. In the morning the
buffalo which was solely bough by the Hangseus or youth
members is killed and prepared a portion of the meat for their grand
feast and the rest are distributed to each Hangso members.
Before they eat the cook meat, a handful of the meat curry is
offered to the deity Sibrai. While offering the meat to
Sibrai, the following sacred songs are pronounced by one and
all, so that they could have a blessed Busu.
Ningmijing ang mijing saimaiya,
Sibrai ribani saimaiba,
Sainjora dojijang sainmaiba,
Horjira dujijang hormaiba,
Waimusa gelekbo diodanang
Dimusa gelekbo didanang
Baithelik baihining lailadi adungrao
Lu thilik lu hi ning, lailadi
Not by our wishes,
But, because of Sibrai we see
Let us make merry and be happy,
as this day comes only but once.
and all saying the above songs, on behalf of the Busu leader
(Gajaibao), and Hangsong youths` association they hold
a community feast called Suba jiba. The whole day they eat,
drink and rejoice. In the evening, when the sun is about to set, the
youths hold a community singing fiesta called Bagaoba. The
song is sung generally in a position of standing in lines in a
procession type in the open space as if they recharged the spirit of
festivity in their midst. The following song is one of the oldest
songs of the Hangseu Busu, which is believed to have its
origin from the Zeme Princess. (It
is said that once a Dimasa Prince married a Zeme girl which is
traditionally considered to be the source of this song).
Baoring jawing jingswe,
Araonjai baoring jiwang jingse
Jiwang jingse sonai soni wangselei.
Jawring gainlao aki hangmai gao,
Heleo ronjai mairing gede gom
Aki longo kilong longba meser,
Gesemsa lairui nihangloba meser,
Gesemsa lairui lai.
Sengmai gaomai senem bamse,
Baigaoke atem maigao,
Goke naisong naigaoyalao,
Semringpake ningrimjen atem
procession is held to call the people to participate in the festival
forgiving debts and forgetting grievances, differences and enmity.
The second day ends in eating. Drinking and in entertaining guests,
friends and relatives.
day is called Busuma. It is considered as the main Busu
day. One this day the children or juniors show respect to their
elders and pay ceremonial homage to the elders and offer a Busu
present like a handful of cook meat and a cup full of rice beer. It
is done individually or collectively and is usually undertaken
within the 12 noon. This kind of ceremonial blessing is called
Busu Gaba. One this day not only pay homage to the living but
they also pay homage to the spirits of the dead of the preceding
year. This last offering of food and drink to the dead “homage
ritual” is known as Makhamgarkhaoba.
community feast is also arranged on this day. Every family
entertained people in the house with a handful of meat in a plantain
and a bamboo cup of Zu. In the afternoon the badailaiba
or traditional sports like longthailemba meaning stone
throwing and harong baiba meaning long-jump for the elders
are held. The winners are sometimes given prizes by the selected
persons like maidung and beseng. (maidung and
beseng are the two persons, 1st and 2nd in
rank who got more paddy than the others in the preceding year)
but traditionally, it is expected that the donations whether in cash
or in kind may be used for the feast. These competitions, held in
the spirit of friendship and understanding, are meant to entertain
and the people have fun and laugh.
sun goes down, on the courtyard of the Gajaibao a bonfire is
lit to warm up from the breezy cold night or to lighten the dancing
ground. The young boys and girls, men and women then put on their
best traditional dresses and ornaments to take part in the famous
Baiba dance. They perform various kinds of dances like
Baidima, Jaupinbani, Daislaibani, Jaubani, etc. The good dancers
are given prizes. The boys and girls merrily dance together to the
music of Khram and Muree throughout the night, while
old men and women and children assembled to witness the gleeful
dance of the youths. While watching the skill of their young ones,
old men, old women sometimes recalling their sweet bygone days even
join the dance for a while just for mirth and fun. A gallon of
drinks like Zu and Zudima in a bamboo tube and a
bundle peace of meat in a wrapped-up leaf plate are served to them
now and then. Drinks are an essential part of the festival and are
distributed in fresh pontho (bamboo tube cups) while meat is
served in plaintive leaves. While the old aged group cannot take
part in the entertainment, they gather in a Khunang house
sitting around the fireplace, chatting, joking and tell stories,
drinking, eating to their hearts` content. This is how the third day
and night passes by.
Sixth days :
fourth, fifth and sixth days are called Baikhaoba or
Jokhaoba. On these days too community feast are held. The days
are spent mainly in eating, drinking, singing and dancing and
merrymaking. People go from house to house to share the joy of the
festivity and each family provides them with ample food and drinks
by each family.
these days they will perform the dances in the court yard of the
selected well to do family and to the leaders house. This is called
Baisingba. This Social festivity continues till sixth noon.
In the morning of the sixth day the youth go round the village
singing, dancing and playing music. This is called digarlaiba.
For the last dance, they again assembled in the dancing ground by
performing the dance in merry go round. In the middle of the arena
they made a pothole in the ground and let a pitchful of water and
the blood of an earlier sacrificial buffalo, and make watery muddy
for playing purposes. After singing and dancing for sometime the
dancers, children along with their bachelors leader Nagahoja
or Mathlahoja facing to the main door of the house of
Gajaibao (Hangseu Busu Leader)and proceed as if in the coming
and going for three times. In the same time some youths behave like
monkeys and pull out the main door of the Gaijaibao`s house
replace it the new one. Pulling out the door may symbolize the end
of the Gajaibao`s responsibility. This is known as derga
khouma, meaning the door id pulled off. The pulled door was then
carried in procession to the river. During the procession they throw
the prepared watery muddy at each other in a playful way. This kind
of playing with mud is known as Didap Hulaiba. As soon as
they each the river the door is thrown in to the water and everyone
takes their bath. This simply signifies that the festival has comes
to an end.
Traditional Dress and Ornaments
Ornaments:- Kaudima, Khadu Kamaotai, Longbar, Pantaubar,
jongsama, Ligzao, Jingjri, Yausidam etc.
Traditional Musical Instruments
performances of any Dimasa dances the following instruments are
absolutely inseparable and indispensable.
wooden drum. It has a long wooden crust measuring about 1.25 meters.
The mouth of the right hand side of the Khram player is
called Jang Jang-ba. And the other, on the left of the
drummer is called Khumba. The different rhythmic patterns
played on the Khram are known as bathai.
is a long pipe consisting of three wooden pipes or sections and its
length is about 1.75 meters. It produces trumpet like sounds and in
every dance instead of singing a song this particular sound of music
guides and controls the enchanting movements of the dances. The
Murees are of two sizes, the small one is called Mureesa
and the bigger one is Mureema.
is a smaller Muree or Trumpet made from a special kind of
bamboo tube. It has six fingers keyhole, which are collectively
somewhat like an ancient Jewish harp is made from the reeds of the
dubong grass. The sound is producing by plucking with the
fingers as on the Mandolin.
the flute is made of small and thin bamboo.
(Courtesy: Cultural & Publicity Department, Dima Hasao Autonomous
FESTIVAL OF THE ZEME NAGAS
- Pauramduing Jeme
is the seed sowing festival of the Zeme Nagas of Dima Hasao. Each
Zeme Naga villages celebrates this festival annually according to
the convenience of the villagers during the jhum cultivation
season, that is in the month of March or April Helei-ngi is
sometimes known as Heleibambe. Helei means seed and bambe
means puja, Heleibambe, therefore, literally means the puja
of seeding or sowing. Generally, Heleingi is celebrated for
two or three days continuously. The first day is observed to invoke
and appease the spirit of the crops Chuprai by sacrificing
buffaloes and pigs Religious rites and sacrifices are generally
performed by the priest also known as Tingkupao, assisted by
some chosen elders. After rites and ritual performance comes to end,
the meat of the sacrificed animals is prepared for the grand feast
in the Hamgseuki or Paiki .Every member, young and old
alike enjoy the community feast so as to mark the happy occasion. In
the evening and at night young girls of the Leuseuki and
young boys of the Hangseuki starts singing and dancing in
sync with drum bells and gongs continuing throughout the night. On
the second day young and old alike to the jungle and river
collecting wild vegetables, hunting animals, birds, fish, prawns,
crabs, etc. By doing so whatever they collect if thus used again for
feasting. As rice beer is one of the indispensable items of the
feast, so a bamboo cup of rice beer and boil rice with meat goes
side by side with the occasion. The third and last evening is
particularly spent in singing on the street or caroling house to
house by the young folks. In this carol, after songs and blessed
works are offered to the household where they visit, as a token of
warm festivity the house owner in return usually gives what-ever he
wish to the youths in cash or kind. The collected cash or kind is
kept for the next festival.
the other festivals, entertainment and merry making, sports etc. are
strictly prohibited during the Helei-ngi. In fact holding
this festival is mean only to appease Chuprai the God of
crops, to protect whatever they would sow in their respective
jhums. So, Helei-ngi is celebrated under the strict
religious direction of Tingkupao, the village priest.
There are also many taboos to be strictly observed by all during the
important stages of the festival. One of the common beliefs is that
one should not go outside the village, or enter the village, and
also one should not do any kind of works. And Helei-ngi being
the festival of seeding, after its celebration one can begin their
sowing in the jhum until Nchang-ngi or the closing
completion of their hard labour in seedling and sowing in their
respective village, there is a puja called Nchang-ngi.
Generally this ritual day is observed in the month of June, two
months after the celebration of Helei-ngi. This is observed
in order to signify that the seedling and sowing period is over. As
seedling season is one of the most painstaking among the stages of
jhum cycle, Nchang-ngi therefore, is considered as one
of the most welcomed festival. As a mode of custom, it is in this
festival parent offer a grand supper to their laborious chilled like
meat, food and wine as much as they can, so as to nourish their
tired body. The ritual is performed only by the priest and one
should go according to his order. As it is a closing ceremony of the
seedling, season, after the Nchang-ngi ceremony no one is
expected to undertake seedling and sowing. It is totally prohibited.
month of September or October when the paddy and grains become ripe
and ready for harvest, then it is the time to celebrate the
Puakpat. Literally puakpat means ‘Period of scarcity is
over’. So far rice and crops are concerned, for an agrarian hills
villagers one of the worst season is said to be May to August, in
which their granary also becomes more or less empty. When one sees
his vegetables, crops and paddy ripening, one can make out that the
time for harvesting is not far behind and the period of scarcity is
over. Imagine the relief they would feel on celebrating this
festival. On the other hand this is also a thanks giving ritual
ceremony and a time for seeking blessing for the grains and crops,
so that they can harvest in good time. It also can be celebrated in
two manners. One is individual and the other collective. The first
day is the thanks giving day in which the village priest or
Tingkupao and elders perform rites and ritual in the
Hejuadekung by sacrificing animals and fowls. In case of
individuals, the second day-On the eve of the festival each family
prepare any kind of food and rice beer in their respective house and
deposits it in the Hangseuki. Through the guidance of the
leaders, the collected and stored items of food are arranged for a
grand feast and thus the mix-up varieties of foods are dined
together by the entire villagers. In case of collective celebration
the villagers kill the pigs and fowls according to their sufficiency
and hold a grand feast. Either individual or collective, this
festival lasts three days only.
It is in
this festival that pregnant women are treated with lots love and
respect by the bachelors of the Hangseuki .Sometimes they are
given gifts. This is mainly done, in order to reserve the baby of
the womb for their respective dekichang. In a large village
where there are two Hangseuki and two Leuseuki, the
members of each gender compete to woo the lady by giving giefts,in
order to get the would be new member in their respective fort.
Therefore, a pregnant woman of a large village gets more reputation
than the small one. In fact, in the Zeme tradition the day the baby
is born he or she is a member of the dekichang. His or her
name would be enrolled in one of the dekichang according to
her mother’s wishes. In this respect, the wife has more rights than
the husband as she is the bearer. Traditionally, the Zemes consider
that the Puakpat festival is a good one for the well being of
the women, so as Hega-ngi for the men. This is the custom. By
nature, universally a woman is regarded as a weak person, but this
good privilege given to the women at such days by their tradition is
noteworthy and praiseful. The Puakpat-ngi being a festival of
the ripening season of the crops and paddy, it therefore is believed
to be a blessed one for the women.
after the collection of crops and all sort of work is more or less
completed, ‘Nsim-ngi a festival of harvesting is observed
annually by the Zeme villages of Dima Hasao. Although it is a
harvesting festival, basically it is considered as a festival of
merry making of the youths. As such the kiangna or members of
the club, whatever they had earned from the whole year for their
association is used in this festival. The entire expenditure for
this particular feast is especially borne by the youths. As such
they call it as a festival of the youths. This joyous and grand
occasion usually fall in the month of November. Generally it last
for five days. But in the year where the villagers are blessed with
more bumper crops than the former years, they also celebrate it by
the name Haangleuteube and Matuibe. Among these two
names the former is small and the latter is the bigger one .In fact
of all the ceremonies of the Zeme, Matuibe is said to be the
grandest and biggest. It is also celebrated when bumper crops are
harvested continually for some year and this in turn brings
prosperity in the village. Hence it takes place for a gap of ten
years or so only. Therefore, Matuibe is considered as the
grandest and most famous of all the festival of the Zemes. Being a
prosperity feast, the Mathuibe alone is observed for seven
days and seven nights. On each day a grand feast is given to all the
villagers in the Hangseuki. After serving the children and
aged persons in the evening young boys and young girls feast
together in a single wooden long plate known as Chingkuak,
takkuak. The particular meal for these members are prepared only
by the Hangtingme or leader of the youth and served them too
accordingly. At night the leader of the Hangseuki arrange the
bonfire of three to four fire places in the hall. According to the
order of the leader of the bachelor and maidens alternately sit
together on a single beam long bench called Njunjei by
touching shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand. With the fireside
they sing songs with drumbeats like that of their forefathers.
Sitting in a relaxed posture they hold hands and swing them to and
fro like dancing paddy in the autumn. On intervals trays of meat
hanging on the fire side is prepared and distributed along-with
gallons of rice beer.
following chorus is one of the famous songs of the ‘Nsim-ngi
HELIM LEU GUT CHURAIBEGE TEU BELEU
Akihangki biang bam lei hang lim
Hang ket penai gau,akihang ki
Buipong ringka makka melai kum
HELEU ME WANGBE LEU
Helim limje,Ilim chi melei aki
Limsa seu helim –lim hangket pauki,
Ajai wang nchang genung.
is a year ending festival of the Zeme Nagas of Dima Hasao. It is
usually celebrated in the month of December or January every year.
It is last for five days. Hega-ngi being considered as the
year ending festival, it has some strict obligations right from the
beginning of the observation unlike the other celebrations. Apart
from singing and dancing, playing and merry making, following are
the main basic principals in regards to the observations of the
being a year ending festival, is sometimes considered as the
gayest of all the festival as the celebration is under taken in
December/January where one and all have more or less free time.
As the season is just after keeping their crops in their
grannies and the new jhum is yet to be prepared it
therefore is a free season for every one. From this philosophy
and speculative point of view, none who is able to participate
in a great number of Hega-ngi at different villages at
one season is considered to be the luckiest man on earth.
FESTIVAL OF THE HMARS
- Vanlal T. Bapui
Introduction of the tribes
The Hmars are a fairly large group of tribes,
sub-tribes, sub-tribes, clans and sub-clans forming a scattered
section of the tribal groups living in NE India. They form a part of
the great Mongolian race found all over South-East Asia. According
to Anthropologists, they belong to the Tibeto-Burman stock of the
Tibeto-Chinese race. Of this, linguistically they belong to the
Lushai-Kuki-Chin family. They are a distinct tribe having their own
culture and language.
no written records of their past history. However, their traditions
strongly maintain that they originated from Sinlung which is
believed to be located somewhere in South-Central China. Authorities
on ancient Oriental History like Colquhoun, A W Graham and Glover
Clarke mentioned about the periodic southward exodus of ethnic
minorities from Kuangton and Kuangsi provinces of China. The Hmars
are believed to have come along with one such migrations and the
reason of their migration has been largely supposed to be the coming
of the superior Chinese tribes.
be the reason, their ancient folk songs and oral traditions maintain
that they migrated to Shan in Myanmar where they settled. A great
famine drove them out and may have migrated towards the Himalayas.
Being unable to cross the high mountains, they retraced their steps
back into Myanmar and following the Chindwin River; they finally
settled the Kebaw valley for along time. Scholars believed that they
might have developed their folk dances and other cultural traditions
during that settlement. From there, they began their migration into
Indian territories which took place in several waves. They entered
the Lushai Hills of undivided Assam and settled the land. Many
places in Mizoram continue to be known by Hmar clan names like Thiak,
Zote, Khawbung, Lawitlang, Darngawn, Keivawm, Khawzawl, Lungtau etc
till today. From Mizoram, many migrated to further west and north
due to famine, inter-nescient raids and unfavourable living
conditions and became dispersed all over the southern areas of NE
India. Unfortunately for them, the re-organization of States and
political divisions further divided them and made them scattered
over almost all the States of North Eastern India.
celebrate a number of festivals where men and women, young and old,
gather together and make merriments; the festivals are of mainly two
kinds. While some are organized by individual families, others are
organized and celebrated by the entire village communities. The most
prominent feature of any of the festival is dancing which is known
as Lam. Dancing is often accompanied by the drinking of Zu
which is the tribal rice beer. Some of the important festivals are
is the foremost among the festivals of the Hmars. It is observed
during the winter season when all works at the field as well as at
home is more or less completed. The festival is organized for a
fortnight and may even extend to a month-long celebration. During
that time there will be singing of songs and community dancing every
night. It is a festival marking peace and all round prosperity and
therefore elaborate preparations are needed for the occasion. If
there be any serious sickness or bereavement in the village during
the year, the festival is postponed for the next year. Hence it is
not possible to organize the festival every year. Because of this
people expectantly look forward to Sikpui Ruoi whenever it is
possible to be organized. The importance being such, the people also
try their level best to settle disputes and try to be at peace with
all the people of the community. Every night, the people, young and
old alike, gathered together at the appointed venue to sing and to
dance. The festival signifies peace, health, success and abundance
in the village and hence, whenever organized, it is done with great
pomp and splendour, forgetting all past troubles and sufferings.
Preparation for the Dance
festival is to be enjoyed for a considerable period of time, the
preparation also requires that all should co-operate with each
other. Especially the young people are to be of one accord with a
firm determination. When a decision has been made to celebrate the
festival, the young people meet the elders of the village to obtain
their permission and to favour their blessings. When this is done,
they approached the song leader called Zaipu. On his part,
the chief also summons his council of elders and conferred with
them. If all parties agrees. Two pairs of young men and women are
appointed Lawmlaisa. It is their duty to extend invitation to
one and all in the village to dance the Sikpui. The Zaipu,
on their part, call together the young men and women and practice
singing the songs for the festival. The drums are mended and a
ceremony known as Khuongtuibur is performed, in which a horn
of a bison is tied to the biggest drum and Zu is poured over
it. This is done to bless the drums for best performances during the
venue, a flat land is chosen. In absence of a suitable flat land, a
plain area is prepared, cleaned and consecrated. In the middle of
the venue, Hringtlir is constructed. A large tree is usually
planted and around it seats are erected for the song leader, his
assistants, the old and the infirm of the village to take their
and women are dressed in their finest clothes. Hmar puon is
usually used by the men. Distinguished persons put on distinctive
clothes to show their achievements are bravery as well as success in
life. They wear the plumes of Vakul, a bird of paradise as
headdress along with Tawmlairang to tell their success in
hunting etc. the leader of the dance group will held a long sword
upright and will move it sideways as he dances. The men and the
women are alternately positioned as they dance.
put on Lung-um clothes and decorate their arms with Harban
and Chaupheng. They tie their loins with sashes and put on
the best ornaments of stringed beads as necklaces, and they put on
their best clothes for the dances.
dancers are alternately placed, the man leading and followed by the
woman and so on. The song leaders and the drummers are stationed in
the middle and the dancers encircle them while dancing.
dance is usually performed by the children of the village and is
called Durte Lam. The song leader commences singing and the
dancers enter the dancing arena. The dances do not involve much
complicated steps and some even amount to slow walks, and therefore,
they are not at all difficult. Swaying to they songs is all that is
done, but in doing this there certainly are some rhythmic movements.
The dance of the children is only for merriment and may last for the
first night only. Of course, children are allowed to dance as tail
dancers in all the other dances.
Sikpui, a number of dances are performed and are known by the
names of Thlawran Lam, Lamtluong Lam, Ketek Lam,
Anranlai Lam, Simsak Lam, and Tinna Lam. All
this dances are also performed around the song leader and drummers.
All the people join in the singing of the songs. The tempo and
repetitions of songs are regulated by the song leaders and the
drummers. On the tenth night Lamlaitan is performed and new
dance forms like Simsak and Palsawp are introduced.
Prior to Lamlaitan, these two dances are forbidden to be
performed. Zu is plentifully provided to the dancers and the
two new dances are danced with high spirits.
Conclusion of the Festival
dances are continued till Zawlsuok when the dances are
finally scheduled to be concluded. If there is rain during the
festival and dancers are not able to perform, at least the drums are
sounded to commemorate continuity. Finally at the end of the agreed
period of dancing, Zawsuok is performed. The dancers and
singers commenced their song and dance from the house of Zaipu.
The concluding dance will last for a night and a day. Before
Sikpui Zawlsuok, nightlong dances are held and in all preceding
nights, dances are organized till bed times only. At Sikpui
Zawsuok, the dance may continue for two whole days. The last
dance to be performed is Lawm anhroui Tuolsuok which normally
last for a day.
final night, the neighbouring villages, which may not have the
privilege to organize Siukpui Ruoi, are welcomed and allowed
to join as part of the celebration. The amazing nature is that
during all these times of dancing and singing, no animal or bird is
harmed or killed. The only entertainment is Zu. After the
performances of the concluding ceremonies, the Lawmlaisa are
not allowed to enter the arena and Sikpui comes to end with
all the people eagerly looking forward to the time that they will be
able to dance Sikpui once again.
Inchawng simply means `rich` or `wealthy` The Inchawng
festival is a big feast by the rich and wealthy person of the
village to celebrate or commemorate his success. Therefore, it is
also associated with a family worship. It can be of two types –Sielsun
also can be of two (i) Sun Fang and (ii) Se
hmaituok sun. Sunfant is when only one bison is killed, whereas
in the Sehmaituok sun, two bison are killed. The option
depends on the resources of the Inchawng. For exceptionally
rich persons, more than two bison are killed.
a rich person of the village announces his intentions, the young
people of the village gathered together to husk rice for preparation
of Zu as well as for consumption during the festival. This is
known as Chawng busuk. In a similar way, they also collect
fire-woods for cooking and lighting during the festivities.
will assign a suitable place near his house. A Y-shaped wooden post,
known as Sewer is made and firmly planted on the ground. Sawl
meaning greeneries are collected and planted near the Sipper. The
Sawl consists of seven young and straight Inkheieng Tuoi
(magar Sal), seven saplings of Inse thing, seven young
Mata trees, seven young bamboos, which are tied together with
Vawmhrik creeper vines.
appointed day, the marked bison is tied to the Sipper. It is fed
with boiled beans and made to drink plenty of water. Its legs are
bound and its tongue is pierced. In some places, the young men will
often play a form of bull-fighting sport with the bison. After it is
firmly tied, the village Priest comes and performs certain ritual,
reciting mantras in preparation of the bull as sacrificial offering.
The animal is pierced by the maternal uncle of the Inchawng
with one stroke at the armpit. Then its head is cut off, a Cornelius
bead is hung from one of its ears and a cowry shell on the other
method and ritual accompanying the killing of the animal may vary
from place to place. Sometimes, the host dresses himself before
sunrise with Thangsuo Puon (a
special cloth for warriors, successful hunters, and highly honoured
and a turban and comes to the spot. He is followed by the members of
his family. He pierced the bull with a spear at the axial (armpit)
making a small cut. He then goes back to the house straightway
without turning back. Then one by one the other members of the
family will push the spear further and further until it is killed.
While piercing the bull, the head of the family chants mantras which
are mainly for worshipping the ancestors:
khuon sienga ka Pi le Puhai rau nuor naw ro
zar ki zo, ki khatin zo naw ning;
nin nuor chun zo naw ning.
thangsuona ka suona, ken tangna ni sut ro
chunga Pathien, ka Puma Pathienhai,
Ki Pu … (naming
the ancestors) a Pathien.
ancestor’s spirit of old, do not be offended with me,
enjoyed your favour, let me not enjoy it alone,
success is mine as well; release me from what prevents me,
My ancestors, my Gods and Lords
My…(naming grandpas serially…)’s god.
may last from two to seven days, and during those days, the rich
host will treat the villagers with meat and drinks. There is much
eating and drinking during such festivals. The young people will
demand Zu and the children will demand meat. Until they
receive their legitimate share of Zu and mean, they will
shake the house of the host. For the Zu, they would sing –
Zu ngen e, zu ngen e,
Inchawng chawngin zu nei lova
Khuoivatepa’n zu nei e.
Zu, the rich has no Zu, but the honey-bee has Zu
would continue singing for the mean –
e, sa ngen e,
chawngin sa nei lova,
Saratangpan’n sa nei e…
meat, the rich has no mean,
monitor lizard has meat.
also sing other songs while shaking the house of the host till the
family of the host comes out and offers them meat and Zu.
Sometimes, if the host takes his time in coming out, they will even
sing songs of curses. But such are not real curses, but done in
playful mood. As their demands are met, they will change the
wordings of the songs to that of blessings for the host.
Inchawng-Sielsun is a great entertainment given by the very rich
and generous people.
is the second form of Inchawng. It is also a public feast
given by the chief or the rich of the village. In big Sielsun
festivals, this is organized as a supplementary ceremony, but it can
be performed as a separate festival. The villagers prepare a big
Hlang (a platform made of bamboos) in which they carry a big
drum to be beaten. The host or his youngest son and his nephew is
made to sit on the platform. The entire contraption is taken up and
carried on the shoulder by the villagers. A pompous procession is
made from the outskirt of the village to the house of the host,
passing through the main street of the village. The host or the
entertainer throws away cornelian beads and other ornaments to the
young people who scramble for the gifts.
is a distinctive festival organized by prominent hunters and
warriors. This may be organized as a supplementary ceremony during
major Sielsun but it may also be done separately as a
festival. A public feast is prepared by the host (the celebrant).
During such ceremony, all the village people will prepare a big
litter in which they carry the host with all the dried skulls of the
wild animals and human skulls that he had bagged. The skulls are the
trophies of successful warriors and hunters. The people make a big
procession along the streets of the village with the litter.
festival can be performed for any success. When a person bags
ferocious wild animal in hunting, or when a brave warrior brought
home heads of the enemy, or when a person achieved all-round success
in cultivation resulting in abundance of food and drinks, the
ceremony can be performed. The ceremony for successful hunting is
Sa-in-ei, the one for the enemy’s head is Rallu-in-ei,
and the one for abundance of food and drink is Bu-in-ei.
In-ei festival, the host will provide food and drink and the
villagers will organize singing and dancing. Victory songs such as
Hlado are usually sung during such festivals. The host or any
other successful hunters may join in the singing of victory songs.
have various kinds and forms of dances for various occasions and
ceremonies befitting the occasions. Some of these dances have almost
been forgotten. Most of the typical Hmar dances are still remembered
in the District of North Cachar Hills of Assam among different
sub-tribes and clans. The following are some of the prominent dances
an ancient victory dance. It is performed in honour of successful
warriors and great hunters. The Hranglam songs are believed
to be among the oldest songs of the Hmar people. They hearken the
past glories as well as the miseries of the people in different
stages of their past history.
dance may also be called the Pipe dance because it is performed to
the accompaniment of playing of small bamboo flutes (pipes) of
different sizes and length to produce different pitches of sound.
The dancers themselves blow the pipes to play certain tunes of music
as they dance in circle, the males and females positioned
alternately. The leader of the dance conducts the dancing with the
beating of a drum which he carried. He can also play the flute while
beating the drum and dancing. A gong is also sounded at intervals,
and victory songs Hlado are sung by the successful hunters
and warriors. This is one of the popular dances performed during any
This is a
colourful dance performed as a gesture of welcome accorded to a
distinguished visitor to the village. It is also called Chawn Lam
and the rich are often entertained during Inchawng festivals.
The dancers dance around in circle, holding on to two corners of
Hmar puon cloth and making movement of pulling down the
corners to accompany the bending of the legs on the knees.
This is a
war dance and is performed during big festivals. Each of the dancers
carries a shield in his left hand and a sword in his right. He
brandishes the sword and moves the shield swiftly as he dances.
Songs of victory are sung and this is mainly the dance of the men
folk and warriors.
or Vai Lam
This is a
royal dance accorded to the Chief. It resembles the dances of the
people of the plains and hence the name Vai Lam. It is
performed by two or more dancing girls during the coronation of the
village Chief, or high officials like the Kalim in some
This is a
peculiar dance performed during Sa-in-ei as the hunter’s
dance. The dance imitates how the hunter has killed the animal with
the use of his spear. A spear is held in position of throwing by the
dancers, and imitates the hunter as he stalks the prey.
This is a
common dance. It is most elaborate and is performed with orchestral
music. It is performed to the accompaniment of a set of gongs of
different sizes called Dar-bu, Rawsem and Chawngpereng.
Theihle is the flute made from Bamboo, Rawsem is a reed
instrument made with gourd and bamboo tubes, Chawngpereng is
another bamboo pipe instrument. Dar Lam is usually performed during
threshing of rice paddy.
This is a
dance performed as dancers sow the seeds of rice in the jhums.
It is a community activity of sowing rather and cannot be strictly
said to be a dance form. However, orchestrated movement and singing
with drums to the accompaniment of sowing with hand hoe in the
field. And therefore may be said to be a dance form.
there are a number of other forms of dances which are no longer
danced and have become obsolete and forgotten. Some dances are
performed at random, whereas there are others that needs elaborate
preparations. There are many folk songs for every occasion. Besides
what has been mentioned there are also folk musical instruments like
Bison horns, tingtang, darbenthek, darmang, darkhuong,
darlaipawng etc which are also in use.
FESTIVALS OF THE KUKIS
- Neingkhothling Doungel
INTRODUCTION OF THE TRIBE
Kuki referred to the hill tribes of the elsewhere independent people
whose settlement and power was well acknowledge and recognized even
by the British. The origin of the Kukis is shrouded with myths and
mythologies. The traditional account that had been handed through
generations and maintained strongly is that, the Kukis originated
from the bowels of the earth or a cave called ‘Chinlung’ or
‘Shinlung’ or ‘Khul’, which is believed to be located
somewhere in China. There are not much written records about their
past histories. But various historians, anthropologists, writers and
academicians mention about their past histories, rich culture and
traditions, besides their physical features, their prowess and
velour and they have been known for being a mighty hunter.
They are a fairly large group of tribes,
sub-tribes, clans and sub-clans spread throughout the contiguous
region in the North-eastern states of Assam, Manipur, Mizoram,
Nagaland and Tripura and in Burma and Chittagong Hills track in
The Kukis form a part of the great
Mongolian race. They belong to the Tibeto-Burman family of the
(Grierson, G A (ed)
Tibeto-Burman Family: Specimens of the Kuki-Chin and Burma Groups)
Lushai Expedition 1871-1872”,
R G Woodthorpe described the Kukis (Kookies) as a “...fierce
tribe inhabiting the lofty hills to the south of Manipur, Cachar and
a portion of the territory to the south-west of Cachar, known as
Independent Hill Tipperah, from the earliest times and who had been
the terror of the surrounding country, and whom successive military
expeditions had failed to subdue...”
The ‘dispersal’ of the people by the existing international
boundaries is the result of initial British colonialists’
deliberations. By the late nineteenth-century, however, when British
colonialism came in contact with the people, the identity Kuki had
crystallized to represent a significant section of the ethnic
OF THE KUKIS
The Kukis have rich traditions and cultural
heritage that are distinct and unique, interesting, and impressive.
The land of the Kukis is blessed with rich
of the people abounds with the heroic adventures of Galngam le
Hangsai, Chemtattepu, Lengbante, Jamdil, Sangah le Ahpi etc.
The poignant romances of Khupting le Ngambom, Jonlhing le
Nanglhun, Changkhatpu le Ahshijolneng, Khalvomtepu le
Lenchonghoi; and folktales, such as Chipinthei le Mailangkoh,
and others, represent the rich variety of the Kuki culture.
have several festivals celebrated since the time of their ancestors.
It may be mentioned that the ancestors performed many rites and
rituals as part of their religious beliefs, many of them being
performed to invoke their ‘god’ whom they called ‘Pu-then’
or ‘Pathen’ and seek his blessings for their well-being
and prosperity. These rites and rituals form an important component
in their festivals. While most of the festivals are celebrated in
honor of the great warrior and hunters when they are back from
hunting with the kill or prey, others are celebrated as an occasion
of great joy and merriment after a rich harvest from jhum
cultivation and before the onset of the next jhuming season.
The rich customs, culture and traditions of the Kukis, a legacy from
their forefathers are one of the best organized and well reflected
by the numerous festivals celebrated by the Kukis with great pomp
and gaiety and with pride till today.
feast is generally organized at the time of festivals. The most
prominent and significant feature in any of the festivals is
‘Lam’ or ‘dance’. Old and young alike used to dance to the tune
of different traditional musical instruments and folk-songs, and
chant songs of praise in honour of the great warrior and hunters.
Drinking of different kinds of ‘Ju’ (traditional rice beer)
such as ‘Vaai-ju’ ‘Ju-ning’ ‘Ju-kha’ and ‘An-thom’
epitomized the celebration of the festivals.
the important festivals of the Kukis are-
This is the most highly prized feast of the lot and can only be
performed by those who have done the Sa-ai three times. In
this everything has to be done seven times. Seven ‘‘mithun’s’
are to be killed and everything else must be in multiples of seven.
This has not been done for a very long time and so the exact rites
are not clearly known. A person is supposed to have achieved a high
social status only when he entertains the community with a grand
feast. Thus, it becomes significant that one puts on as much show
and sacrifice in the form of many ‘‘mithun’s’ as far as
possible. It was originally done by Kuki himself. Even the songs and
genealogical trees had to be repeated seven times. The whole
ceremony takes days to complete and the expense incurred being
fabulous. A person who performs the Chon ceremony in his lifetime
such person after his death, his corpse had to be carried round
seven times and everything pertaining to burial rites had to be done
seven times. For that they resorted to smoking the bodies of such
persons to avoid decomposition before the entire rites are
The performances of the Chon gave the soul of that person a
paramount seat in Mithikho (the village of death) and insure
eternal happiness. Chon was basically a feast where the performers
show off the wealth of his family. Thanksgiving ceremony is
performed in honour of his ancestor whose blessings have brought him
wealth and prosperity. It takes several days to perform this feast.
Villagers and neighboring folks congregate for this celebration,
feasting, dancing, drinking of ‘Ju’ (rice beer) and merry
making marked this auspicious occasion.
is a feast celebrated by the entire village in honour of the
womenfolk. It is significantly a celebration of bountiful harvest of
paddy ‘chang’ at the end of the season. It signifies success
and accomplishment by the women, of their hard work and labour in
the jhum all throughout the year. This festival is equivalent
to the SA-AI, which is performed in honour of the great
hunters. This festival reflects the status and prestige of the women
in the Kuki society, which they hold with pride and dignity.
festival is usually hosted as a symbol of status and pride only by
the wives of the Chiefs or of a very wealthy man as it is an
expensive affair. On the day of ‘Chang-Ai’, women who have
performed this feast are permitted to wear the dark blue cloth or
shawl with intricate embroidery at the two ends in red and white
cotton, which is the ‘Thang-nang puon’.
festival begins with invitation sent to kith and kin. In the
evening, prior to the day of ‘Chang-Ai, announcement is made
by the ‘khosung lhang-va’ regarding the celebration of the
festival. It is repeated early in the morning on the big day and the
entire village then proceeds towards the field from where begins the
‘Chang-Ai’ festival. A priest called ‘Thempu’ leads
the community. He performs the rituals by reciting mantras to invoke
the ‘god of paddy’ called ‘Chang-lha kou pathen’. The priest
then puts bowls of paddy into the bamboo basket/bowl or bags of each
individual and as he does this, he remains silent and undisturbed.
Once the priest finished doing the rituals, the entire villagers
proceed back to the village to the house of the person performing
‘Chang-Ai’. As they proceed, the villagers broadcast and throw
the paddy on all sides along the way and shout ‘heijam’ a
victory cry, accompanied by the sounds of ‘pheiphit’, which
is a traditional flute. This is necessarily done in order to please
the ‘Chang lha pou Pathen’ for his blessings.
performing the ‘Chang-Ai’ then feed the entire village. A yak
‘sel’ or a buffalo ‘‘mithun’’ is sacrificed for the
grand feast. She puts up a platform about 6 inches above the ground
level. Small upright stones representing the numbers of the women’s
‘beng’, basket of paddy are placed on the platform, which are
consumed on that day. On the centre of the platform two stones are
placed upright, one larger than the other which is known as ‘SHONG-MUOL’
(Spirit stone). This stone does not represent the spirit of the
woman performing the ‘Chang-Ai’ or of her husband, rather it
is placed for the ‘Pathen’ or Supreme God to know where ‘Chang-ai’
has been performed before he selects a good place at ‘MITHI-KHO’
(Village of the death) for the one performing the ‘Chang-ai’.
feast can be performed only three times by a person. Singing of folk
songs, dancing to the tune of different traditional musical
instruments and drinking of ‘Ju’ goes on for the whole day
and night in the house of the person performing the “Chang-Ai’.
Apart from these, traditional sports such as ‘siel tuol del’
(catching of let loose ‘mithun’), ‘siel kal’ (high
jump or jumping over the yak), ‘bonkho’ (wrestling)
and ‘lhochil dances’ are also performed on the day. The
entire village celebrated this festival with great enthusiasm, with
great pomp and show.
The great Hunters’ ritual:
Sa-ai ritual is performed by a great hunter to gain complete
dominance over the spirit of the killed animals. The sheer act of
the killing of the animals, as is believe, is not effective enough
for the hunter to have total dominance over the killed animals.
According to legends, if the spirits of the killed animals are left
unsaddled and are not brought under the hunter’s control they may
afflict the hunters spirit during his life time and even after his
death. By performing the ritual of Sa-ai during his lifetime
the hunters gains absolute control over the spirits of the killed
performed only by hunter of great eminence and caliber who have the
distinction of killing large numbers of animals, particularly
elephant and tigers, besides other small and big animals.
Preparation of the SA-AI:
Arrangements are made by the hunter in advance for the Sa-ai.
First of all he collects all the Skulls of the killed animals.
Sufficient quantity of wine is kept ready by the female members of
his household for initial discussion for fixing the date for the
wine is ready and the skulls are collected, the hunter invites the
priest and the chief of the village along with the Tucha, Becha
and the other elders of the village to his house. Offering them wine
to sip the hunter tells them about his desire to perform Sa-ai
and seeks their help. A date is then fixed for the observance of
Tucha and Becha are entrusted by the hunter to prepare
sufficient quantity of wine and Tuhpah for the occasion.
yard is prepared by the Tucha and the Becha with the
help of the youths in front of the hunter’s house.
Requirements for performing SA-AI
It is an elevated platform raised on wooden posts by interlacing
crushed bamboo lengths, with space for about thirty persons at a
time. The platform is made at a height of about six feet and is
enclosed on three sides with a network of thin bamboo slats. At the
entrance a block of wood with notches is placed as a ladder.
is a wooden post erected for tying the ‘mithun’ during the
Sa-ai rituals. The Selkhom is made from the trunk of
Sething (Oak tree) and is about 12ft. high with a girth of about
50 inches. The top of the pole branches out in three directions. A
notch is cut round the pole to hole the rope.
Thing-giel is a square wooden block of about three feet
height, which is made by the Becha of the hunter. Lives are
chiseled out in a geometrical design on all sides of the block. Each
live represents an animal killed by the hunter. The upper portion of
the Thing-giel is made gradually smaller and a hole is made
on its top. A piece of bamboo or wooden staff is put in the hole.
on the Thing-giel are cut in such an intricate manner that
even an intelligent person is puzzled in counting the lives. This is
done deliberately to obstruct the spirit of a tiger killed by the
hunter in completing the count of the lives. It is believed that, if
the tiger’s spirit is able to finish the count of the lives on the
Thing-giel, the hunter is distressed grievously during
lifetime and after death as well. Further, a contrivance called
lheh-leng, is suspended stop a post put up near the
thinggiel. It produces a capering sound when shaken by the wind.
It is believe that the noisy sound disturbs the tiger’s spirit while
it counts the lives.
evening before the day of commencement of the Sa-ai, the
Becha performs the formal ceremony of invitation to all the
persons. Wine is serving to the guests by the
Tucha of the hosts. The guests in return, offer to the host the
wine they have brought from their houses. This wine is called
‘PHUNGPI JU’. The Becha then formally makes the
announcement about the proposed ritual of Sa-ai to commence on the
the morning on the next day, the Becha and Tucha bring
the “SOL” (a collection of three green bamboo culms) from the
of ‘Sething’ wood, measuring about 4 feet in length and
called as ‘nung khom’ is collected. ‘Vangui’ a
creeper and a couple of two-pronged small branches of a tree are
also collected. The two branches are called Sa-mol khom.
These are set up as a stand to hold the twigs, called ‘Samol’.
Each twig represents a skull of an animal killed by the hunter.
the morning on the day of Sa-ai, the Tucha and
Becha dress the hunter in the cloths of a woman. Dressed as a
woman, the hunter takes a spinning spindle made from the knee bones
of an elephant and strikes on the scull of a tiger. This action,
according to legend, symbolizes the bravery of the Kuki woman who
first killed a tiger using her spinning spindle. This is how the
Sa-ai ritual begins in the presence of the invited guests.
hunter then gets back into his own cloths, and with his bows and
arrows performs the mock action of shooting the tiger through the
forehead. This is observed in solemn silence by all those present,
as if it were real affairs. After the mock killing of the tiger, the
hunter hold the bows and arrows in his hand, jumps over the tiger’s
skull several times and uttered the following words sarcastically in
a sneering tone, denoting total subjugation of the tiger.
Nang ngamton chapa,
Nadung ka chop, chop khop lou,
ka pu jou lou, na pa’n ka pa jou lou,
Nangin kei nei jou lou tin angiel
“Vi – hi – hi “ ati.
O you tiger though you are the son
The length of your body appears to
be so insignificant.
O you dead tiger
I can jump over your body as many
As I like and that too, both
lengthwise and breadth wise –
Not to speak if you, Even your
Fore-father could not defeat my father and my
you too are subjugated by me.
hunters then jump and yell a shrilling victory cry. A group of young
people called the tiger’s party then tied the replica of the tiger
with its skull and then start moving around the village, making a
sound, like the roar of a tiger. Another group of young persons,
playing Gongs and Drums, start moving in a clock wise direction
around the village. When they come nearer to the tiger’s party, they
obstruct their way making more noise.
purpose of this action is to signify that the men of the village are
always alert to drive away and kill any tiger intruding into the
village. It also indicates that not to speak of a living tiger, even
the spirit of the dead one is not allowed to enter the village and
that every tiger, living or dead, must always remain subdued by men.
out by the men party, the tiger-party takes away the skull and the
skin of the tiger outside the village at the periphery, where they
suspended the tiger-skin on a cross-bar and the skull on the
three-pronged top of posts.
parties then stand opposite each other and sing the ‘Sa la’, song of
Ka in sah a Keisan pi kuol ngiel nguol,
Hangin lhouve lhum mei jong daije,
Eija eija chin kho noija,
Lho le mi ka cherng khome,
A hangjou thijang daije,
Eija eija hei cham gam laije,
Pa mang um na kho saije cham gam taije,
Eija seijadam gam laije, Patong um na kho saije,
Eija eija cham gam laija,
Sahol keipa bon nang sel na-e.
striped tiger with its reddish skin prowls at the foothill in search
of prey, near a house perched high above, seeing it, the villagers
from all sides surround the tiger raising the cry –
– and kills the tiger.
flames extinguished of a fire,
spirit of the tiger is vanquished.
is now dead and its carcass cold.
cold water of the hilly brook.
yells the crowd and says:
tiger you came from your lair
jungle where wild grass grow –
village and sought contest in fight against Pamang,
village hunter, and Patong, the weapon maker.
the crowd shouts and says,
tiger you attack Pamang, the hunter,
place where the trail gets narrow.
the hunter grappled, causing
subjugation and death to you.
singing the song, both the parties proceed to the hunter’s house and
prepare for erecting the ‘Nungkhom’ and the ‘Sol’. The
‘Tucha’ also dig holes for erection of the stone block,
called Sa-Song. After the ‘nungkhom’ ‘Sol’ and Sa-song
are erected, the priest performs a separate ritual called ‘ai-san’.
Kuki means wild turmeric and is very significant and very important
in Kuki traditional rituals. This ritual ‘ai-san’ is done to beseech
the blessings of ‘Ailhimpinu and ‘Ailhimpipa’ for the
hunters to attain success.
priest slices the ‘ai’ with a ‘dao’ and if the sliced
piece of ‘ai’ falls turning upward, it is considered as a sign of
good luck for the hunter, if instead, the ash-smeared slice of the
‘ai’ falls with its surface upward, it is considered as a
sign of bad luck.
The next part of the Sa-ai ritual is the ‘Sel bonchon’,
which means wrestling with the ‘‘mithun’’. The ‘‘mithun’’
is tied to the ‘Selkhom’ a post, and about forty to sixty
persons stand around the ‘mithun’ and perform the
body-swaying movements with handclapping. A few young persons then
wrestle with the ‘‘mithun’’ and try to bewilder the animal.
This ritual is more of an entertainment and competition for the
youths to show their strength and bravery rather than to show their
strength and bravery rather than to ritual itself. There are conical
and almost clownish interludes in the game providing plenty of
laughter and fun when some old people try to jump over the
‘‘mithun’’ making grotesque postures.
end of the game, the ‘‘mithun’’ as such is bought to the
hunter’s house and the ‘Seljangboh’, a rite, is performed.
This rite is performed before the ‘mithun’ is killed. The
hunter stands by the side of the ‘mithun’ with his wife on
the left. On the other side of the ‘mithun’ stands the priest
facing the hunter sprinkling drops of wine on the ‘mithun’,
the priest’s chants an incantation, which is hardly intelligible to
senior most elder of the hunter’s clan then kills the ‘mithun’
with a sharp pointed end of a bamboo spike or with a spear. After
the ‘mithun’ is killed, all the people stand in circle around
the dead ‘mithun’ and perform the ‘Selpanglam’.
part of the Sa-ai is called the Sel-mei-lah. The
hunter with his wife, his Tucha and the Becha and some
elders of the village along with the priest nominate a person of his
own clan with whom the hunter has full faith and confidence. It
signifies the hunter’s total confidence on the nominated person that
he will stand by him in times of calamity and misfortune caused by
this rite, the ‘mithun’ is chopped and as per tradition
distribution of meat is done for the most honourable and the dearest
person of the family.
work of distribution is over, the meat is made ready by the Tucha
for cooking. During these activities, drinking of wine goes on in
unabated gusto and every one is in a very joyous mood. The Tucha
of the hunter’s family brings out several large earthen pitchers of
wine for the guests. Boys and girls too are served with wine so as
to make everyone get extravagantly merry.
drinking ceremony is followed by the grand feast where the hunter
(host) dines together with his kith and kin and his guests.
grand feast, drinking of wine goes on with dancing and singing all
through the night. This is called ‘Sajanha’.
purpose of ‘Sajanha’ is to keep on with the singing, dancing
and drinking all through the night in celebration of the hunter’s
complete dominance and victory over the spirits of the animals
killed by him.
and singing continues through the next whole day and night after the
guests have left. This is done by the b ‘lom’. They all eat
together again in the hunter’s house. At night the hunter prepares a
wine called ‘Lom lhah na Ju’ specially for the younger
folk. Young folks sing some songs which are called ‘Lom la’.
ritual of ‘Sa-ai’ end when the boys and girls finally depart from
the hunter’s house, singing love – songs or ‘Dongma la’.
another ritual practiced by the member of a LOM. At this
celebration of LOM – KIVAH reveals the integration of the
Kukis in our ancestor times. The ‘mithun’ is to be killed in this
feast of Lom-kivah. On the first day an exciting even takes place
where every boy tries to demonstrate his individual prowess and
grapples with the tied ‘mithun’. While wrestling takes place, old
and young, men and women drink ‘JU’ and the night is spent in
singing and dancing.
second day of Lom-kivah requires the boys and girls to sing
and dance in the courtyard of well to do persons in the village. For
the celebration of this ritual to be a success, the services of
Lom-Becha, Lom-Tucha, Lom-lhangva, Female Lom-upa is
required. During this ritual the Lom-Upanu serves a special
wine of honour called Lal-Ju. The wine prepared by the girls
is called Jutep special meat called SAPANG is served
to the Semang – Pachong and HAUSA of the village,
SELJU wine is also served and distributed in three rounds. In a
spirit of mirth and hilarity wine is poured into the mouth of
dancing partners. Inspite of the participation of young and old
alike in the ceremony there is no clash of opinions between them.
This is because there is in the traditional Kuki custom, a reverence
towards those in authority a tradition consecrated by the society.
The ceremonies performed and rituals observed are considered most
sacred by the members of the Kuki society. The members of the ‘Lom’
sing in the house of the person who is celebrating Lom-Kivah
rituals. A feast is then laid out for them in this house. After the
feast, the ‘LOM’ members go to spend the night in the house of
‘Hausa’. The next night the ‘Lom’ members take leave of the
house owner and departs bidding farewell, while the house owner
pleads with them to stay on. In this way the ‘Lom’ members
sing and gradually depart bringing the ‘Lom-kivah’ ritual to
feast is quite similar to Lom-kivah. This festival is
observed by the ‘SOM-GIE’ group, the permission of the
‘Hausa’ is first sought, and when it has been granted, the ‘Thempu’
offers a sacrifice of a few chunks of heart meat and a little of
greasy meat to appease the evil spirits and makes an incantation.
Thus, propitiation of evil spirits takes place before the feast
begins. Following this, the villagers’ part takes the feast served
by the ‘Som-gie’. Dancing, singing and drinking of ‘JU’
continue the whole night, till the early hours in the morning. The
first day is called ‘Som-kivah pini’. The second days
functions are called ‘Som-kivah Sapang, Ju-choini.
Here pitchers of wine with measuring sticks called ‘Leng’ and
sipping pipes are given. All are supposed to sip from a set of Jars.
This sipping of wine is called ‘JU-TUILUON’. The third day
function is called ‘In-nei-Ju-buhni’. Drinking of wine and
merriment continues in the midst of singing and dancing. The last
days function is called ‘Ju-chih-don-ni’. Where the best
quality of wine preserved is drank in a Mug. The owner of the house
also offers wine called ‘Som-lhah-Ju’. Early the next morning
the guests leave the house and the Tucha and Becha clean the house,
drink the remaining wine and the ‘Som-kivah’ ritual comes to
a close. In any social or religious celebration, the rituals
performed are mostly for the propitiation of evil spirit. There is
always excessive drinking of wine which often leads to intoxication
of the villagers in the Kuki society.
literary Chavang means autumn and Kut means festival.
So, Chavang- Kut means autumn festival. It is usually
celebrated in the month of November or December after harvesting
season is over. As we must say after all works of the farmers are
retired. It is celebrated only when the farmers or villagers have a
complete retirement from all works of cultivation. It was a time for
the villagers to have amusement after the whole year toiling under
the heavy monsoon season and it is a time for the villagers to give
thanks to ‘Pathen’ (God) for guiding the whole year in their
works of life.
sooner the harvest season is over; the village Chief ‘Hausa’
and his minister Semang-Pachong arrange the programme of
Kut celebration in their village before 2 to 3 weeks ahead. On
the day of the Kut ceremony, the village priests in the early
morning offer a sacrifice of White fowl to appease the evil spirit
and make an incantation. Thus after a well preparation of the
villager the celebration begin as all the villager will come out in
a traditional dresses proceeds to the ‘Hausa’s courtyard
where the ceremony is to be held. The village women bring their ‘JU’
fermented rice-beer in their pitcher. The women folks served the ‘JU’
and at the same time games or sport like Bonkho, Suhkho, Kungkal,
Selkal etc. continued to play till the noon.
evening approach the grand feast prepared for all were served to
each and every one with un-limited dish. As the night approach the
youth of the village set up the bon-fire in several places from the
gathered fire woods then to begin the moods of the Kuts the
woman served again the ‘JU’ the singing, the dances of the
merry making and Jokes continued till late night.
modern day the Chavang-Kut festival lasted for two days. Its
normally begins on the 31st October with an evening
programme of songs, dances and various cultural items. The most
exciting items of the evening were Mr. & Miss Chavang-Kut
day-long programme is observed on the 1st November. The
villagers gathered in the public ground at 8 am. The chief host
inaugurates the by offering prayer by 9 am. The chief guest hoists
the Chavang-kut flag. After the flag hoisting ceremony was
over, the cultural dances were displayed from different groups.
meantime, the felicitation is given to the toppers and young
achievers who have done the community proud by excelling in their
respective field of studies. A certificate of appreciation is
awarded to them. The village chief, community leaders and other
guests give speeches on Peace and harmony and national integrity.
The whole day were observed with playing games. In the evening the
popular artistes and invitees display their talent followed by
distribution of prizes to the winner of Mr & Miss Kut. The
people enjoy the function with great enthusiasm. The youngsters
display different kinds of dances as well as the comedian gives
exciting shows. The people eagerly wait for the result of the last
night. The show goes on up till midnight. The organizer announces
the result of the competition of each item. The people enjoy the
show and laugh at the top of their voice, shaking hands and embrace
traditional musical instruments of the Kukis
the important traditional musical instruments are - Kho’ng-pi
(big drum), Kho’ng-cha (small drum), Dah-pi (gong),
Pe’ngkul (trumpet), Gosem (bagpipe), Theile
(flute), Pheiphi’t (whistle), Se’lki (horn),
Lhe’mlhei (a peculiar mouth instrument) etc. These instruments
were useful not only for raising the festive spirit, but also for
adding solemnity to certain serious occasions.
Folk Dances of the Kukis
vachih lei thai
saipi khupsuh lam
sagol phei khai lam
sel pang lam
TRADITIONAL DRESSES OF THE KUKIS
PON MONG VOM
LEN BUONG THOM
PON JEM NEI
HAH LE CHAO
FESTIVAL OF THE HRANGKHOLS
- Lalphirthang Hrangkhol
The Hrangkhols believe the
supreme God, called ‘Pathien’ also believe the existence in
various kind of Gods such as the Hills, the River, the range etc.
The customary religious performances are celebrated with social
festival or feast in season throughout the year.
other tribe the Hrangkhols observes a number of community festivals,
they are more or less related with agriculture and life style of the
nature. After hard occupation of Jhum at day time, only few
hours of the night is left for rest, in this period the youth group
of boys and girls use to go to the aged men of the village to learn
the folk songs, to listen the traditional legends etc. The most
important festivals are:-
important festival Ruolsafak means feasting together. It is a
harvesting festival as well as the bedding goodbye to the passing
year and welcome the new year with fresh and prosperity the day was
not fixed, the festival was celebrated according to the convenience
of the village, during the last part of January and first part of
February, But since 1998, the 1st February, the Dima
Autonomous Council warmly welcomed the festival and has declared as
the Local Holiday every year.
observance of the festival, both boys and girls of the village (Kho-tangva)
take the leading parts under the leadership of TANGVA ULIEN.
The preparation started well ahead of the time of the actual
celebration. The earning (Vengasuo ilho) of the village youth
(Khotangva), by doing physical labour and the earnings from
village women (Kho-nupui) are spent in the festival. In some
village, the youth cultivate a patch of Jhum land themselves
and what ever earnings they could get from the cultivated land, is
spent for the celebration of the festival. This festival is
celebrated for two or three days continuously.
collecting the required money for celebrating the festival, a
meeting is held in the village to select the venue (Tunkung)
of the festival. Generally the Tunkungs is select by turn of
village head’s (Kho-kalim) residence or to the conveniences
of the villagers.
selecting the Tunkung, the youths starts to make the place
suitable for celebration, constructs pandal and collects fuel, water
etc. The Tunkung holder will get one day service from youth
in his Jhum work on free of cost for next year.
day, early in the morning the village Priest (Kho-ochai)
along with his co-elders purifying themselves by taking bath
solemnizes the ceremony, performing the ritual TARPA PHAK, or
pray to God, sacrifice an elder cock and hen and cooked it with rice
called Nempok. After eating the Nempok with Zu
(rice beer) the priest announces and declares the festival and its
purpose to the people. He and his co-elders hold fasting till noon.
season as there is no hard work, so people passed the time by
hunting, fisting etc. In fact, this RUOLSAFAK is also time of
rejoicing and merry making, thus the village youth kills big pigs or
a buffalo for a grand feast to suffice their needs. While chapping
the meat a group of young boys steal some meat from chapping place
for themselves and other will chase them called SERAPHIT as
the mark of enjoyment.
of grand feast with meat, rice beer (Zu), now singing and
dancing are main components of this festival with traditional dress.
The aged men and women are may enjoy apart from the youth.
day is for competition (RUOL SIET) on traditional game and
sports and for other variety programme. At the night all have a mini
feast (dinner). The aged men and elder person give blessings and
guidance to younger boys and girls. On the very day the people were
in one accord, discontentment, enmity, anguish are supposed to be
wipe away by forgive and forget, thus the RUOLSAFAK festival
ceremony ends for the year.
CHEMCHOINA / BAHNAR INSUK
festival is related to cultivation, in fact just before the Jhum
cutting season. When the villagers have selected their own land
sites, during the first part of March, the entry gate (daikot)
of the village is well decorated by bamboo splits. The word CHEM
means dao and CHOINA means handling, this festival is
to save people from unwanted accident and hurt while working in the
Jhum and for the good crops, protection from pests and
damage. A performance of eldership (PUONPU CHOI) is arranged
and only male child up to the age five to eight years participated
morning hours the priest with his co-elders performed CHEM CHOINA
ritual by fowls end pig near the decorated gate (DAIKOT) of
the village. While the priest is performing the ritual works,
villagers or out spiders one not allowed to enter or out of the
village, even the women are also restricted to come out from their
house and the five of hearth extinguished fully .There acts are
called “KHOSER” this will be last until the further discuss
is passed by the priest.
ritual performance is over, the village people engaged to make fine
by rubbing/friction by a spited bamboo with bamboo strings on the
village ground. there is a mode of competition among then, that who
will make fine first, one is awarded, As well as the new holly fine
is come out , there built a bon fine for their hearth. Then every
house is resumed their cooking with the holly fine. It is to recall/
remember the ancient time, the fine was too precious, and so every
one’s hearth was not extinguished till the next holly fine is
that the people of the village enjoy with singing end dancing for
the day. There is no heavy feast, only the ZU (rice beer) is
Parngot festival is for the youth boys and girls for merry
making, mocking, and rejoicing and seeking friends each other, it
may say the kind of carnival enjoyment. This festival is not
celebrated annually, mostly it take place during the month of April
according to the convenience of the village youths, it last for two
Par means flower Ngot means to collect/plucked the wild
flowers from tree. The wild flower means Orchids (dang hang, Ruol
tei, Chemjem, Nem eng etc.)
day from early morning the youths set out to collect the wild
flowers/ Orchids to the jungle, on singing the traditional love song
etc by parting the age group. When the TOLAI (PALAMKEEN made
of bamboo) is full enough with the flowers, they carried on
shoulders by shouting in joy, to the selected house (TUNKUNG).
The Tunkung is selected where youth girls are there. On
reaching the Tunkung, they are offers Zu (rice beer)
served by the youth girls of the village. Now the flowers
distributed among themselves and every one adorns their hairs and
ears, also decorated each of the house by hanged as the mark of
happy PARNGOT DAY (happy carnival day) And thus celebrate the
festival by drinking Zu with enjoyment by cracking jokes,
making merry, singing and dancing throughout the day and night. In
this theme is no heavy feast, light refreshment may serve if
FESTIVAL of THE Rongmei
- Buithan Rongmei
- Royal Rongmei
CHAKAAN – GAAN NGAI
It is one of the greatest and joyous annual festivals of Rongmei
Nagas, celebrated in the winter (Chakaan) between December
and January of the year. As usual just after the harvesting and
collection of all kinds of food-grains in their barns/ store –
houses is over after hard working for many days and months, the
villagers, mostly the youths both boys and girls use to get
recreation with joy in this festival. The important highlights are -
joyous chorus of ho, ho.
Games & Sports like High Jump, Long Jump, Stone throwing, etc.
Entertainment of elders, relatives, friends, guest with drinks,
meat, food, etc.
and merry making.
and so on, continued for 3 to 5 days.
It is a
celebration commemorating the bravery deeds of village Champions
who sacrificed their lives in protecting the villagers against the
enemies, who won victory over the village enemies in defense of the
village, those who secure success in hunting or fighting. It is
celebrated in the month of February of the year. This celebration is
particularly meant for man folk only and not for females who are
prohibited from participation in this festival. During this festival
all types of men/ are prohibited from taking food or any kind of
thing prepared by women. Hence all men are to prepare food or drink
for themselves separately in a common place till the celebration in
over. The highlights of the festival are-
& sharpening of all kinds of fighting weapons, arms and ammunition
with deployments to the public.
Recitation of war hymns, rites, songs, stories.
Rededication of all able men collectively to the God in the defense
of the village.
procession of youths with full armors from one end to the other end
of the village with the chorus of “Ho, Ho”, jumping, singing and
shouting victory and challenging the enemies.
spear throwing, shooting.
games and sports.
recitation of Warrior talks, war hymns, war rites, etc. by the
elderly men, and so on.
the celebration for piercing the ears of the baby children (NUKON
ROUMEI), and offering the thanks giving to the mother – goddess,
DAA-MPAAPUI in the month of March of the year. The highlights
of the festival are:-
NAASANGSAAN – MEI LU
throughout the night invoking the goddess for procreation of more
Piercing the ears of the baby children by the youths with needle and
: A celebration of seeking blessings for the child (new
baby) with ceremonial administration by pouring Jangngao (a
kind of wine) together with pressed ginger over the forehead of the
baby by the local Priest (Mu).
Offering and distribution of sweets, meats fishes, hens, pork,
fruits, fresh vegetables, etc. in the name of the baby child
glorifying the goddess, to the children, old men and old women.
: Performance of dance by the old men and old women in each
house-hold of the baby child concerned praising the Goddess with the
stimulating sexual songs. (Tulamroi Kathoumei Khatni row-rupui lu
roi son na keomei) and such performance is concluded with
blessing song called KON KON PUI LIU at the end of the
procreation of more children.
the festival celebrated for greeting and entertaining the guests
coming from different houses, clans, tribes or communities from
different places or villages in the month of April of each year. The
highlights of the festival are-
and entertaining of Guests with the delicious food, meat, fishes,
chicken, pork, drinks etc.
Interested youths (boys and girls) organized sight-seeing on lofty
hill peaks, water-falls, lakes, having picnic in jungles, plucking
jungle flowers and new leaves, etc.
sports including races, wrestling, whereas the young girls play the
game of “GAA KAPINMEI” with the jungle Nuts of circular shape
like the wild creepers beans.
It is a
festival of taking the tasty ginger-curry soup cooked with the
chicken or pork mixing with the ginger spices, chilies and salt
celebrated usually in the month of May of the year. Men, Women,
whether young or old, including children take enjoyment by taking
ginger curry soup which purify the blood and are meant for good
object of this celebration is to praise the Goddess of food-stuff,
food-seeds with songs of KATU KAWMEI invoking the Goddess to
supply the good seeds for production of abundant food-crops in the
coming year. The highlights of the festival are-
and drinking of Ginger curry soup.
Entertaining of relatives and friends.
– Prohibition the villagers from tilling or cutting the Ground or
– To organize and have picnic in the jungle by erecting flags at the
highest point of the location.
celebrated in the month of July of the year just after the
completion of field cultivation. The main objective of this festival
is to invoke Goddess of food-seeds (Nap khatni Fulling
Ponpu Sinmei Raa) for enhancing the production in coming years.
in Rainy season)
It is a
festival of recreation after the hard labour by cleaning fields of
growing paddy plants and celebrated in the month of August. The
highlights of the festival are-
youths undertake the following social works for the welfare of the
and cutting footpath and roads.
and construction of culverts, suspension bridges. Therefore, it is
also called – CHANNGSU PUMDON NGAI, means the festival of
celebrated in the first part of December of the year for assessing
the Talents (KALOTS) of villagers by measuring the produce
collected by each house-hold as if the Annual Exhibition of
Agriculture products of the village. The first and second prizes (sual)
are awarded to the highest and 2nd highest producers by
TRADITIONAL ORNAMENTS AND ATTIRES OF RONGMEI NAGA
Male and the other for Female, and further there are different
varieties of dresses and customs of both man and woman according to
social status and age in the society.
Sinei Pheipon :- Young boy’s shawl.
2. Inthemphei :- Young
3. Pheingao :- For
both youth / adult man.
4. Langthu Pheingao :-
5. Koukhram Pheingao :- For old man.
6. Langbong Phei
:- Ordinary shawl for young man.
7. Laakpu Phaipong :- Ordinary
shawl for married man.
8. Chingkhong Phei :-Decorated
shawl for prominent men who attains a high status in the
1. Langlan 7. Phaikam
2. Songnai 8. BangChakiu
3. Senlam 9. Taan Tadu
4. Laangsem 10. Vei Tu
5. Chei & Laa Ngton 11. Killed
orchid slits with case
Lengrinaphai : -For little young
Pheingao Pheisoi : -Long Skirts.
3. Langjin Pheisoi
4. Kinmei Pheisoi
: -For young.
5. Kharam Pheisoi : -Girls as
well as women.
. Khamtaang Phei.
1. Langhu Pheisoi
3. Pheilaak Bungkam
decorated head gear.
6. Pidong :- Head Crown.
7. Vei Tinggiam :- Earring.
8. Taan & Tadu :- Armlet.
9. Baanteng Taa :- Bracelet.
10.Tadan Tu, Vei Tu, Tapok Tu, Kaangchu Tu :-
11. Counch & glass beads, red pebbles, etc.
:- Traditional Dance attires for
:- Dance attires for girls.
Karapai nsuai-mei pheiban
of Women and elderly Women (mekhela)
kai bam puan khatni pang puan
of girls for wearing in any occasion as well as at home
khatni karapow baran phei
of old men and middle aged men.
:- Young boys Shawl.
lam puan ntu le nta.
:- Nechlace and bangles used for dancing
khatni ntumei dadow guai
Traditional instruments used by boys and girls.
:- Traditional way of weaving.
kaduai pui mang
:- Women making thread ball.
dances of Rongmei performed during the festivals (each item of
dances has specific meaning with different types of beatings) are
Hoilaam : -Male Folk Dance with Ho-ho cry
Gaan Laam : -Dance performed by young boys only.
Tunaa Laam : -Dance performed by young girls only.
Laam : -Cricket Dance performed by both boys and
Talaam Laam : -Butterfly dance performed by both boys and
Khoinguna Laam : -Bee dance performed by both boys and girls.
Makhom Laam : -A special dance from Makhom village, performed
both boys and girls.
of Drums in different rhythms with particular kinds of regular
succession and recurrence. These rhythms of drum beating were
invented by CHOU and MONGDING according to Rongmei
important rhythms are: -
Chou le Mongding. (b) Ting-thin khong khol.
khenchong (d) Hoikaw khong.
khong (f) Theiymei khong etc.
Khuangpui -Big drum.
Khuangna -Small drum.
Siamu -Brass gong.
Guaichai -Flute made of Mithuns horn.
Siamman -Small cymbals or bell.
Pio - Two small bamboos for
each clapping sound.
Han -A large bamboo tube for
stamping in the ground to make sound.
Tao khongmei -Mouth organ.
monmei - A music played by with an
indigenous flute made of tiny reed-bamboo species.
Raah gaatmei - Violin.
Mhubung raahbung - Guitar.
Intaao Khongmei - Mouth organ.
Semmu - A circular gong with
semi-ball shooting up in the centre for stroking with fist
producing the humming
echo of music in long thrilling sound.
Senkheng - Cymbal of a oair round
brass plates producing clanging sound by stroking
the Rongmei people are very fond of songs. Both Ladies and Gents
enjoy their life in singing songs and they greet and entertain their
fellow friends with melody songs, etc. Whenever, a person feels
disappointed or sad he or she used to express their melancholy or
lamentation in songs. The Rongmeis have many classes of songs with
different sub-songs according to the purposes, seasons, etc. Some of
Kalum Lu - Hymn or worshiping
Lu - War songs.
Maku-baanlu Lu - Highest
traditional & religious
Lujaam - Common
Laam Lu - Folk dance
Lamlan Lu - Friends Love
Mangui Lu - Love songs.
Kailong ronlu - Village defense songs.
Laofun Lu - Cultivation
songs during tilling the ground.
Katu Kaw Lu - Seeking good seed
Naasang Saan Lu - Songs for blessings of
Majaa Lu - Harvesting
Sing Lu - High classic
songs for competitions.
Chapaa Lu - High classic
songs for competitions.
Luphai & Ludung - High classic songs
Konkonpui Lu - A
kind of benedictory songs and so on.
LAM – LU
carrying dance song)
puan guang heilu maipu
puan sin sum lo
kin riu gai matha bam
Ni yeh !
the young boys and beautiful girls
performing the water carrying dance
river they are bringing water;
what a blessed generation ! ! !
themselves with their beautiful
beautiful sight to see them?
Performing the water carrying dance;
for the beginning of winter festival.
Oh ! !
what a beautiful sight
Bill dance song)
chamdin gwang rai loo ! ! !
nijee athian mai.
lui mei raengsuni kumei
raeng nale raengdai kaliam
We came to see our young boys
girls performing the beautiful
dance in our native village !!!
young and beautiful ones
received your love & invitation !!
come like the horn bill flight.
What a beautiful and blessed view,
like the horn bill flights.
Young & beautiful ones
reminds us our youthful days !!!
blessed & beautiful
being your generation,
be beautiful like the horn bill birds.
- Zahid Ahmed Tapadar
- Mojari Ronghi
The Karbis, mentioned as the Mikir in
the Constitution Order of the Government of
are one of the major ethnic groups in North-east India and they are
the principal tribal community in the
Besides Karbi Anglong district, the Karbi inhabited areas include
Balijan circle of
East Khasi Hills
Apart from Assam, the Karbis are also recognised as Scheduled Tribes
in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. With a population of around 4
lacs 60 thousand as per 2001 Census, the Karbis constitutes the
third largest tribal community in Assam after the Bodos and the
Racially the Karbis belong to the Mongoloid group and linguistically
they belong to the Tibeto-Burman group. The original home of the
various people speaking Tibeto-Burman languages was in western China
near the Yang-Tee-Kiang and the Howang-ho rivers and from these
places they went down the courses of the Brahmaputra, the Chindwin
and the Irrawaddy and entered India and Burma. The Kabis, alongwith
others entered Assam from Central Asia in one of the waves of
The folk-lores of the Karbis, however, indicate that during the long
past, once they used to live on the banks of the rivers the Kalang
and the Kapili and the entire Kajiranga area, the famous National
Park situated in Assam, was within their habitation. During the
reigns of the Kachari kings, they were driven to the hills and some
of them entered into Jaintia hills, the erstwhile Jaintia kingdom
and lived under the Jaintia suzerainty.
While a section of the Karbis remained in the Jaintia kingdom,
others moved towards north-east by crossing the river Barapani, a
tributory of the Kapili and entered into the Rongkhang Ranges. There
they established their capital at a place called Socheng. The Karbis
who migrated to the Ahom kingdom had to face the Burmese invasion.
The Burmese who invaded Assam perpetrated inhumane oppression on the
people. The Karbis took refuge in the deep jungles and high hills
leaving their hearth and home in the sub-mountain regions. In order
to save themselves from the greedy eyes of the Burmese invaders, the
young Karbi girls started to use a black line from the forehead to
the chin which is known a “DUK” with a view to making them ugly
looking. While some of the Karbis migrated to lower Assam, some had
crossed the Brahmaputra and settled in the north bank.
The Karbi language belongs to the
group of the
subgroup of the
language family. Notable Karbi scholars like Padmasri Prof. Rongbong
Terang and Dr. Phukan Ch. Phangcho in their writings have pointed
out the simmilarities between Karbi language and the Kuki-Chin
(Lushai). However, it is of interest to mention at this point that
in the Linguistic Survey of India, conducted under the supervision
Abraham Grierson, the Karbi
language has been categorized between the Bodo language group on one
hand and the Kuki-Chin and Naga language group on the other.
Like most of the languages of the hill tribes of the North-east,
Karbi also does not have its own script and is written in the Roman
script, however it is sometimes written in Assamese script too. Some
of the earliest written texts in Karbi were brought to light due to
the efforts of the missionaries of the Christian missionaries,
especially the American Baptist Mission and the Catholic Church. The
missionaries brought out a newspaper in Karbi titled Birta as early
as 1903. Rev. R.E. Neighbor's ‘Vocabulary of English and Mikir,
with Illustrative Sentences’ published in 1878, which can be
called the ‘first’ Karbi ‘Dictionary’, Sardoka Perrin Kay’s ‘English-Mikir
Dictionary’ published in 1904, Sir Charles Lyall and Edward
Stack's ‘The Mikirs’ in 1908, the first ethnographic details on the
Karbis and G.D. Walker's ‘A Dictionary of the Mikir Language’
published in 1925 are some of the earliest important books on the
Karbis and the Karbi language and grammar.
The Karbis have a rich oral tradition. The Mosera, a lengthy
folk narrative that describes the origin and migration ordeal of the
Karbis which literally means ‘recalling the past’ is one such
The Sabin Alun, yet another traditional oral narrative
relates the legend of Prince Rama (Ram in Karbi), Lakshmana (Lokhon
or Khon) and Princess Sita (Sinta Kungri) in the traditional Karbi
and rural setting where Sinta Kungri is adept in weaving clothes and
helps her father Bamonpo (Janaka) in his Jhum fields. However,
Sabin Alun is not a widely accepted tradition, and it seems to
be of recent origin. Many Karbi themselves argue that Sabin Alun is
probably an adaptation from the Ramayana, composed when some Karbi
people were converted into Hinduism in the sixteenth century CE.
Culture and tradition
The Karbis are a Bi-lineal, (where both the lineage from the mother
as well as father is equally important) society and the Karbis have
five clans called “KUR”. These are Terang, Teron, Enghee.
Ingti and Timung. Each of the five clans has a number of Sub-clans.
While Enghee and Timung have thirty sub-clans each, Terang have
fifteen sub clans, Teron have nine sub-clans, and the remaining clan
Ingti has only six sub-clans. These clans are completely exogamous
and marriage between a boy and a girl belonging to the same clan can
never take place since the children of the same clan are considered
as brothers and sisters. Violation of this customary law obviously
leads to ex-communication of the couple involved. Even in the
cremation ground called Tipit or Thiri, area is kept
demarcated for each clan. Although all the five clans are socially
on an equality, Ingti being a priestly clan was supposed to have a
higher status in former times.
Although, monogamy is the prevailing practice, there is no bar to
polygamy and the cases of polygamy are very rare. Cross-cousin
marriage is a preferential one. Like other tribal societies, the
Karbis do not have the system of bride price. After marriage, the
wife continues to use the surname of her father. But the children
assume the title of their father. Thus, the Karbis follow the
patriarchal system of family structure.
The settlement pattern of the Karbis is in the form of a village.
Each village has a headman called Gaonbura or Sarthe
who is appointed by the authority of Autonomous Council. But each
revenue village has a number of hamlets situated kilometers apart.
Each of the hamlets has also a Gaonbura. In Dima Hasao, the
Karbi village is named after the small streams or rivers, hill or a
popular name of trees. The Karbis, like the other hill tribes, have
a tendency to live on the hill tops.
Most of the Karbis still practice their traditional belief system,
however, there is also a significant proportion of Karbis who follow
Christianity. The practitioner of traditional religion believes in
reincarnation and honours the ancestors, besides the traditional
deities like Hemphu and Mukrang.
The Karbis have their traditional dresses which are artistically
designed. These dresses are woven at their family looms. There are
separate dresses for men and women.
The aged men use an artistically designed shirt called
Choy-nangpo and the shirt used by the young men is called
Choy-hongthor. The men use a loin cloth called Rikong.
The Karbi women and girls generally use Pinicamflak, a piece
of cloth tied around the waist like a Mekhela. A piece of
artistic cloth is used by them to cover the upper part of their body
and it is called Pe-kok. A very highly artistic waist band
called Wankok is also used by every woman and girl. The
ladies use coloured and striped Endi scarf called
Khongjari during winter.
The Karbis traditionally practice jhum cultivation (slash and burn
cultivation) in the hills. They grow variety of crops which include
foodgrains, vegetables and fruits like rice, maize, potato, tapioca,
beans, ginger and turmeric. They are quiet self-sufficient and have
homestead gardens with betel nut, jackfruit, oranges, pineapple,
etc. which fulfill their nutritional as well as food needs. However,
with the integration of the traditional lifestyle with the market
economy, many of the traditional institutions and way of life has
been left damaged, bringing about unending sufferings on the people.
Festival of the Karbies
Among the festivals observed by the Karbis, mention may be made of
The spot for “Chojun” is when “ancestors” are propitiated is
generally selected near the house of the family which wishes to
perform the ritual. The deities in this festival are Barithe, Sar
Arnam, Arni and the Hi:i and other smaller deities.
Hemphu, the greatest God of the Karbis is also propitiated. The
ritual is performed for the welfare of the family.
Rongker is performed at the beginning of the New Year by
propitiating the different deities for the well being of the entire
village. The deities are worshipped by all the elderly male people
of the village so that with their blessings the people of the
village could be free from diseases, natural calamities during the
year and the families could have a good harvest. The women are not
allowed to enter into the worship arena.
There is another kind of Rongker performed in a greater scale. This
type of Rongker which is performed at the beginning of every 5 years
is called Wofong Rongke. This Wofong Rongker is performed for the
well-being of all the people of the villages that fall within a
larger jurisdiction. Each village is represented by the village
headman and a number of village elders (males only) in the
performance of the Wofong Rongker. While the Rongker performed for a
village is only of one day’s duration, the Wofong Rongker continues
for two days.
Sok-keroi festival is observed at the end of every harvesting
season. The ripened paddy is cut and taken to a place specially
cleared in the field. Then the paddy is husked on the floor and the
paddy is collected. A large number of young men go and collect paddy
in bags and bring them home. There starts a great rejoicing and the
young ones dance to their hearts’ content. Sok-keroi means ‘carrying
of the paddy’ from the field. In the festival, one person is
selected as the leader who provides the leadership in dancing and
singing. He is called Lunsepo . He is the director of singing
The Hacha-Kekan is not exactly based on the folk-tales. Hacha-Kekan
festival is associated with post harvest rejoicings. There is no
fear element in it and there is no need to propitiate any god. Hence
it is to be assumed that the Hacha-Kekan is secular in its
activities and differs substantially from another festival -
Rongker. Because, the latter needs the propitiation of God.
historical background of Hacha-Kekan is like this. Once upon a time
there was a village. Among the villagers there are four or five
families members were held a small meeting and decided that the
present village is now became very old and numbers. So another new
village is to be settled. Rukasen is one of the leaders. One
day he told one of his followers to collect some rice, eggs and one
hard bowl made of wooden. One a good day they went somewhere in
searches of a suitable place for settling a new village. Then they
found a suitable place called RONGKULAR for settling a new
place. Rukasen told one of his followers called PHERANGKE
means messengers to bring rice, eggs and bowl for omen and praising
to almighty god and asked Goddess whether the chosen place is good
for settling a new village or Jhuming. Then at night a dreams
appeared to Rukasen that three beautiful young girls came
across the river and met Rukasen and love him and wanted to
marry him. On the next morning he told to his followers about his
dream. They became amazed that the dreams come true. It means that
the chosen place is good enough for settling a new village. After a
few days they started for construction of their houses. At first
they settled only three families. In that moment two of them went
down somewhere searching a place for jhum cultivation etc. Lastly
they found a hillock called CHEKSO ANGLONG for jhum
cultivation and cultivate accordingly. Slowly more than 100 families
were settled permanently. After that they have plenty of paddy and
other properties and became rich. Rukasen became the Gaon
Burah of the village. Again they held a meeting one day solving
that by the grace of almighty god we had a lot of paddy, we should
give thanks to him (god). So how to give thanks to almighty God is
to have a beautiful festival called Sok kepam or Hachakekan.
nights are preferred for the celebration of the Hachakekan, so that
they can enjoy the festive amusement in its delighted way under the
natural light of Mother Nature. On the first day of morning the
priest perform rites and rituals by sacrificing animals and birds to
the goddess of wealth, and they prey upon the deity for the
protection of the harvest from the pests/ insects, wild animals in
future. The whole day is spent in feasting by drinking horlang
or rice bear with ok or pork. During the festival days relatives and
other villages are also invited. Hachakekan is purely a male dance.
The songs and dance mostly depicts the historical background of the
settlement of the Karbis village, how the village came into being.
The songs of the Hachakekan is known as Rongkim Alun means
song of the settlement of the village and the dance was introduced
by the Karbi poet Rukasen. There is no musical instrument during
this festival but through the harmony and rhythmical notes of the
music and the young the boys dance hand in hand in the moonlit
night. The songs are mostly traditional and proverbs types. One of
such kind of song is as follows:
ke rongkular binong,
chephang nangkim chudon than
E kasen a
chekso a malong
malong khalang dong
malong khalang dong,
pen jaidi phurikong,
takso pangkep dong
hanjar nang kardon
ta keku thethan,
tehang nanglum jong,
tim pen him along,
anle dovan nang lang chom
ru kasen senglong
newreng kaso rengjong
kaseng kaso rengjong
kathilake chupen sirungjong
pen chenanthi jujong
chengvai lam chedan
kuleng a bijon
kunangji au vangbon
chengvai lam chedon
kathi muti nanglongpon
kuleng pen vangbon
eju loti dochomdan,
kim dovari along,
Although, the Karbis perform the funeral ceremony at the time of the
cremation of the deceased, they also perform the death ceremony
called Chomangkan at a later date for the eternal peace of the
deceased. It is the most elaborate and expensive socio-religious
ceremony of the Karbis, which continues for four days and four
nights non-stop. The ceremony does not require any formal invitation
and all are welcome to it. In spite of the sad undertone, it is an
important occasion for the family to welcome all with great warmth.
They come in batches and everyone carries a symbolical and
ceremonial totem with five branches. At the top of main totem, there
is a wooden “Vo-jaru” (racket-tailed drongo). The totem is
called “Jambili Athon”. This is the symbolical representation
of the tribe and it is also the symbol of clan unity. The Jambili
is a very interesting phenomenon. The tribe has five Kurs or clans
and the Jambili has five branches. Under the cover of it, the
Karbis listen the story of their origin. It is called “Muchera
is made of wooden consisting of 8 feet length and three branches
with nicely decorated designed. According to Sri Sarbong Enghi,
former Gaon Burah of Umrongso village firstly the Jambili
athon was made by Jorprop Phancho. One day all the senior
leaders gathered in one place and took a decision that as the Karbis
were living scattered in large area of the district and for the
welfare of the society and maintain in harmony we have to divide
three parts (1) Durong area (2) Nongkerla area and the
other (3) Chongkhili area. Jambili athon should be
made in one decorated and styled but according to the inhabited area
it should make three branches. A bird called VOJARUI shall be
on the topmost as a symbol of chief judges and a kind of small bird
called Voleng Bengcheret shall be on the top of three
branches. Some necklace beads and sobai (cowries) were nicely
decorated on Jambili athon for good looking. Once who
supposed to be observe Chomkan will invite area-wise. So that
they will participate in festival and bring their own Jambili
athon. Thus Jambili athon is made.
Karbis have good numbers of traditional dances and songs in
different festivals. Ok-kepru festival is one of the oldest
traditional festivals of the Karbis. It is observed during when the
Ritnongchingdi festival begin, meaning working together in
the Jhum. It is generally observed in the month of April and May.
All the young boys and girls of the village get together and working
in the Jhum happily and make joyous with feasting singing, dancing
together by displaying the art of cultivation through the rhythmical
tune of the Muri tongpo and chengburup (small drum).
hard working they took rest and during this time some young girls
were collecting firewood and fetching water and prepare midday meal,
while the young boys are going nearby the jungle to collect some
leaf for plate, wild vegetable etc. During the search of leaf and
wild vegetable they went down to the stream and saw some fish are
playing in the river as the river is thin and dry. As soon as they
collect one of the powerful tree fruits poisonous called Ruthe
but most commonly used is Rumet, the roots of a creepers both
commonly called Hiru. They beat the Ruthe and Rumet
on the stone or pluck, mixed and make juice and allowed to float in
the water which turns the water milky in colour. The fish then came
out and running here and there as they are drunk and finally died
and they picked up.
collected fish then cooked and all the young boys and girls working
together in the Jhum were eating happily. The remaining uncooked
fish if any then distributed equally among them. At this moment some
of them were engaged and married in a beautiful traditional ways.
age old common community fishing festival is one of the most leisure
moments among the community outdoors games of the Karbis. Therefore
the leaders of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao Autonomous Council
declared a Holiday on 6th April every year as Ok-kepru
festival for the Karbi community. A few songs of the Ok-kepru
are as follows:-
Kepru paju pre
Korpi hanri be,
Chire dei chire.
Chire dei chire
Chotur pa saine,
Chekung pen nune,
Chire dei chire,
Kopaile do te,
Longji ok kithe.
Dearest one, please be careful, catch even small and brown fish
before, if you are lucky, you will
get big fish.
size. It is used during the festival of
Pongsi: Fluite, made of a small bamboo. It can be used at any
time as it is a melodious sound.
Krongchoi: Mouth organ made of one small piece of bamboo and
small piece of iron. It can make a melodious sound
Cheng Drum: Made of a wooden. It is used during the festival
Dresses of Women or Girls
A kind of garments in different kind of stripe.
sarpi: A small cloth with three colourful strips,
black red and with same as shawl.
kok: A small cloth wrapped over the body.
Pe-Jisso : A small cloth wrapped
over the breast.
kok : A long narrow strip of
embroidered cloth tied over the waist.
Dresses of Man
festival of Chomangkan and other big puja.
hongthor: A kind of jacket, it can be use at any occasion.
Choi-ik: A black colour shirt
Choi-ang: A red colour shirt.
during the time of Chomangkan and other big puja festival.
waist (tied) hanged some Sobai (cowrie) both end to make sound. It
only during the time of Chomangkan and Nimsokirung dance.
A men’s brass earring.
Prinsoroi: A silver bracelet.
ruve : A silver necklace.
Nothengpi: A large earring made of silver in designed
usually put on by women.
aroi: A large silver bungle put on wrist of women
lokso: A women necklace made of white beads.
sika : A kind of necklace made of silver of one
rupee fifty paise and 25 paise coins with
Festival of the Jaintias
- Sylvia Suchiang
origin and historical back ground
Khynriam, U Pnar, U Bhoi, U War,
U dei U
paid Khasi baiar”
Khynriam, the Pnar, the Bhoi, and the War,
are the people of entire Khasi Nation”. These four branches of tribe
sprang from the same racial stock. It was often the practice under
British rule to designate the entire tribes by a single name, the
Khasis. The Khasis are a Paleo-Mongoloid people the earliest wave of
the Mongolian invaders. They speak an Austric tongue, Mon-Khmer;
have adopted different accent and dialect in course of their
wandering long before they settled in their present respective
habitat. Of them the Pnar or Synteng was probably the
older branch of the tribe. Significantly, it preferred to be called
itself ‘Pnar’ or the original people. The name ‘Synteng’,
was given to the Pnar by the Khynriam, when
they conquered the Jaintia Kingdom of Sylhet. However, the Pnar
or Synteng adopted another designation, ‘The Jaintias’.
The Raja of Jaintia kingdom and his family was converted to
Hinduism. Side by side, worship of natural forces was also
prevalent. Thus a great deal of Syncretism in religion was taking
place, whose base was ‘animisms’ but its upper layer was the
Jaintia kingdom comprised of both hills and adjacent plains of
erstwhile Sylhet with its capital at Jaintiapur, 15 Km from Sylhet
with three distinct provinces, the plains territories in Sylhet (Jaintia
Parganas), second the Jaintia hills and the third the plain
territories bordering Assam. The Anglo-Burmese war shook the
foundation of not only the Jaintias but all the princely states, (Ahoms,
Manipur and Kacharis etc). The treaty of Yandaboo signed between the
British and the Burmese on 26 February 1826 AD changed the course of
history forever. On 15th March 1835 AD, under the last
Jaintia Raja Rajendra Singh, the kingdom of Jaintia was annexed by
the British on the pretext of human sacrifice. The advance of the
British had a far reaching effect on - the land, society, economic,
tradition, heritage, festival and specially religion of the Jaintias.
The Jaintias are now found in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, Dima
Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam. And the Jaintias of the
Jaintia parganas mostly migrated to the adjacent districts of
Karimganj, Hailakandi, Cachar and along the River Jatinga valley and
reached Jatinga, in Dima Hasao by the end of the nineteenth century.
Jaintias, who settled in the plain of Sylhet, embraced Sanskritic
culture before the advent of the British. But the most remarkable
social institution is the system of matriarchy or matrilineal.
Therefore the Khasi-Jaintia social institution may be regarded as
Unique. A characteristic feature of the Khasi-Jaintia matrilineal is
the succession of the daughters to the family property. Especially
the youngest daughter called the ‘Khadduh’ or ‘Khonruid`
is vested with the ‘custody’ to the main family processions and as
such is expected to observe the traditional family rites and
ceremonies, any violation of which may entail social disapprobation.
Marriage is an important event, not only because it is sacramental
but also due to the changes it brings about in the residence pattern
of the husband. There is no greater sin than to marry within one’s
clan. Marriage is strictly exogamous. Marriage within the clan pays
the penalty to be disowned or outcaste from the tribe. The husband
resides with his wife in his Mother-in-law’s house and children
born, takes the title or clan of the mother.
predominance of women in all spheres of life and the respect and
honour in which they are held is undoubtedly the hallmarks of the
Khasi and Jaintia society .But it does not imply that males has no
role to play in the family and the society. The most important and
respected member in the Jaintia society next to mother is the
maternal uncle (U Kni) who has special authority to the
conduct and management of his sisters family. Another remarkable
feature of the society is the extreme clannishness. The entire
society is a conglomeration of clans which is called ‘Kurs`
or ‘Jaits` The mothers are consider as the founders of the
clans but the heads are always male members ( the senior most
Festival of the Jaintias
‘Festival` means a series of performance of music, plays, dances,
games, rituals etc usually organized in the same place once a year
or a series of public events connected with a particular activity or
idea. Therefore it’s the time of fun; joy and merriment. The tribals
were primarily land cultivators, so naturally harvest festival is
common in all the tribes and Jaintia is no exception to it. The
Jaintia festivals are also associated with the fertility rites,
cultivation, preventing and driving of the evil spirits etc, which
has an animism characteristic. Almost all rivers and mountain peaks
were regarded as sacred abode of Gods and Goddess. The Borail peak
was once worshipped and called in local dialect as ‘Lum Klongtam`.
Jaintia’s most sacred river is the River Kopili to which human
sacrifice was even offered. However festival differs from place to
place and from deity to deity. Almost all the festivals are
associated with the sacrificial of hen, goat, and pig. Therefore
only the non-Christian Jaintias observed it now.
summer season every year, before the removal of weeds from the field
under cultivation, a weeding festival is held. A fertility rite is
done to appease the deity. Than the farmers dance the `Longhai
dance`, two groups of dancers, female and male in one
line each facing one another. They hold a hoe on one hand. They
danced against the background of music played with pipers and
drummers. They dance with a hoe, bringing it down with one hand and
lifting it up with another in alternate succession. It symbolizes
the weeding of the field with a hoe. A similar dance is `Shyrnai`
but stick is used instead of hoe.
Raliang Daloiship, the most important rite called `Nohblai`
is held in November before harvest season by sacrificing a He-goat.
The Lyngdoh (priest) also releases a couple of doves if it
flies eastward, is a good omen and if to the west, reverses. The
festival ends with a feast of the slain animals and drink beers. At
Nongkhlieh, tradition has it in the past that human sacrifice was
performed to the river Kopili, which is now replaced by goats.
Beh dien Khlam
well known and important Jaintia festival is the ‘Beh dien
khlam’, chasing of plague held annually is performed
only by the non-Christian in Jaintia hills. A minor sacrifice, `bam
so pen` is observed at the Lyngdoh`s (priest) residence
before the plague tree is fallen (dien khlam). The
fallen trees are then carried to the market place to be kept for a
night, amidst rejoicings with music of drums and sound of pipes and
yelling. The next morning, groups of young men perform ceremonial
chasing of evil spirit with clubs in their hands from door to door
visit. Decoration called `Rots` and the festival trees are
borne to the ‘Aitnar` stream for immolation. The ‘Aitnar`
is in the centre, the stream having been dammed and the site with
its surroundings making to serve as an
The ‘Rots`, after immersion amidst dancing, piping and
yelling are destroyed at the final stage. The festival ends into a
game called ‘Dat Lawak `in which a sort of football (the ball
is of wood) is played among two teams of farmers. The winning party
of the game is assured a good harvest. The ‘Beh dien khlam`
are fertility and driving of evil spirits rites. It is an amusing
festival with prayers to God to yield good harvest and protect them
from the bad spirits.
Siat Khnam Festival
adventurous festival for young boys and men is the ‘Siat
khnam` or the archery competition and the ‘Dein Khlain`
(Greased pole) as in 1854 Joseph Hooker, a journalist described the
event he experienced - “The usual toy of children is the bow and
arrow with which they are expert, they ….also spin peg-tops like
English, climb a greased pole, and round with a beam turning
horizontally on an upright to which it is attached by a pivot”,
(Himalayan Journals, page 486). The ‘Siat khnam’
or archery game is now has taken the form of a commercial
business which is known as ‘Tir` or ‘Thoh Tim`, a sort of lottery.
Betting –counters are found every where, where bidders can get cash
prize, if one bets the correct number of arrows that an archer would
Khnam’ or archery was held annually in the early years of
Jatinga inception till the thirties of the last century. With the
demised of the first generation of the Jaintias that come to Jatinga
the ‘Siat khnam` festival ends along with them. The
conversion to Christianity and with the advance of western
education, it does little good but has torn the Jaintias from their
ancient, age-old rich tradition and culture. The Jaintias in Dima
Hasao has become a tribe with a derelict festival and tradition,
except their language and their matrilineal customs. The newly
converted Christian, of those early days considered these old
festivals, dances and games as useless and waste of time. There is a
long generation gap of not understanding until now the young and
present generation of Jatinga eagerly wants to revive back the once
rich culture and tradition of the Jaintia people. And as for the ‘Dein
Khlain` (a pole smeared with pigs’ fat) competition is held
sometime only during Christmas festival. This game too is fast dying
unless boys underscore the richness of their old tradition. As
E.W.Suchiang wrote - ‘If we forget the past, the present and
future have no place to stand`.
other festivals like the Market festival known as `Knia long
raid` performed in February. After the decision of the Council
is taken, the ‘Pyrda` festival is held in the month of April.
In act of conformation to such decision the rite called ‘Nguh
Blai` (Homage to God) is performed. Festival beers are sprinkle.
‘Knia umtisong’, a fertility festival is performed in June.
The Kopili rite is performed in June at ‘Umkoi Bir Jyrpa`, a
pool symbolizing the great water goddess when simultaneously, weeds
are removed from the field. ‘Pyrong shnong` and ‘Knia
khlam` as a means of preventing epidemics and plague are
observed in the month of July. ‘Thang bula` (effigy
molestation) in November corresponds to harvest sacrifice. In the
past, before the major festival took place, the Daloi (chieftain) in
person went down to Jaintiapur and obtained from the Raja articles
such as vessels, plates, flags, guns and gold.
of the Jaintias
of dances, S. Tham, a Khasi poet thus remarks:-
“Ka khor ka khriam ka ksiar barieh
Ki sei ha rong ban shad mastieh”
“The attire hidden and costume bright
In dancing ground they melt in light”
the Jaintia dances are religious but a few are non-religious. A
popular Jaintia dance is the `Laho` dance, a woman with two
men by her side, crossing hands with them over the shoulders, giving
full expression to the movement and swinging of the body and hopping
of the feet. This dance is performed in harmony with the music
played with pipes and drums at the background.’ Laho`
resembles the Bihu dance of Assamese people.
important dance is the ‘Shad Pliang` or plate dance. This was
performed by young damsels in the Raja`s palace to entertain the
royal guests. The plates symbolized hospitality for serving
delicious food to the guests and special invitees. Now it has become
a part and parcel of every Jaintias marriage celebration as ‘Shad
Pliang` is a dance of joy, merriment and hospitality. Both the
bride and the bride grooms` families take parts in this dance after
feasting is over, which continue till dawn. It can be performed all
alone, to show off the skilled in handling the plates without
letting it fall to the ground. Some could even dance with four
plates simultaneously, two plates on each hand, and one locked by
the lips in the mouth and another in the head.
Pliang` is also performed in the open field, girls dancing with
plates to the sound of music and boys move their hands and body
circling around the dancing girls, symbolizing as a protector till
ones get weary, tired and than retires. New dancer takes turn and
thus it continues for a long time. As mentioned already the `Longhai`
dance is performed with a hoe and the ‘Shynai` is performed
with a stick.
Jaintia dance is the ‘Shad Pdung`, which is performed in the
harvesting festival. Young girls hold ‘pdung’ (round bamboo
sheaf) in hands swinging to the rhythm of the music symbolizing the
‘harvested of plenty` and shearing the new harvest. Unlike ‘Shad
Pliang`, the ‘Shad Pdung` is performed in open field with
larger number of girls. This dance is performed by female folks.
Dances such as, `Shad Stieh` a dance of spear and shield, ‘Shad
Behmrad` a hunting dance, ‘Shad Mastieh` a fast
dance, male dancers skirting off each other ,holding in their hands
a sword and fly-flap, each stepping towards one another, the ‘Shad
Pastieh` is an important ceremonial dance, ‘Shad Phurator`
is a male dance against the sound of drumming and ‘Shad Wait`
a sword dance which exhibits a type of an old war combat belongs to
the male folks. Other dances such as ‘Shad Lumkba Shohkba`
and ‘Shad Nongrep’ are cultivation dance in which both male
and female dances together. ‘Shad Pynioo Jaid Riam` is
a dance of four distinct tribes of Khasis, in their different
traditional attires, a couple from each group, dances together to
show the spirit of unity in diversity. The word ‘Shad` means
Traditional attire and ornaments
‘Ryndia Saru`, ‘Ryndia Stem`, ‘Ryndia Tlem`
were worn by women in the past. A single mixed colour cloth, girded
at the waist, looping downward to the ankle. Over it another cloth (Muga)
tied from the collar bone while another end in fastened below the
left arm pit. No stitching was needed for this type of weave cloth.
These days blouse, skirt mostly mill-made fabrics and synthetic are
worn underneath. ‘That kup`, ‘marina’, ‘saro’, (shawl)
were compulsory to be used by married woman to cover her head. The
‘Thatsem Pnar` (Sari) is also worn by woman but in a
little different way. The ‘Achol`, is wrapped around the
armpit and pinned it up at the shoulder. There is a little
modification with the change of time.
silver such as ‘Khaila` (earing), ‘kpien ksiar`
(golden necklace), ‘Kpien chabi` (long silver keychain), ‘Sahkti`
(finger ring), ‘Khadu` (golden\silver bracelet), are commonly
worn by women. ‘Pangsngiat` (headgear) is worn only during ‘Laho`
men they wore, ‘Sula` (shirt), ‘Yuslein`(dhoti), ‘Yuspang
Phylli`( Muga turban), ‘Patoi` (waistcoat), ‘Dhara`
a long coloured silk to wrapped across the shoulders and waist.
Ornaments such as ‘Kpien chabi` (long silver keychain) are
also used by men during dancing, hanging across both the shoulders.
Jaintias relish pork the most besides mutton, chicken, meat of deer,
wild boars, pigeons, jungle fowls. Very few Christian families take
beef but the non-Christian don’t take at all. The most favourite
Rice-dish is` Jadoh` prepared from a pig’s head. The head is
cleaned and boiled. When the meat is cooked, it is cut into very
small pieces and the brain ( which is wrapped in a leaf and
boiled) besmeared with the local spices ready to be eaten known as ‘Dohklieh`.
Then rice is cooked in the remaining boiled water, added by local
spices, salt and when cooked it is known as ‘Jadoh`. Another
rice-dish called ‘Jasnem` is prepared with the blood
of pig or hen being collected separately and besmeared with rice,
local spices and bits of meats. Jaintias are famous for the
preparation of ‘Tungtoh` or ‘Tungrymbai`, prepared
from fermented beans with ‘Nai-ong` black sesames added with
local spices and bits of pork meats. Indigenous cakes are ‘Pusain,
Pumaloi, Putyrt, Pusyap, and Pusaw, Pukhlein, Pusla` made of
pounded rice. ‘Kwai’- the hall mark of khasi & Jaintia, has
served as an item of social recreation and entertainment. Fruits are
abounding as they grow all the available fruits of the area.
various kinds of drinks. ‘Kiad` (beer) –‘Kiad hiar,
Kiad um, Kiad thang, Kiad pyrnah, Kiad harak`- prepared
from rice or millet. Beer is used in all ceremonies like birth,
marriage and death, festivals and entertainment.
instruments: - ‘Duitara`, made of wood with three or four
strings of silk thread
which has three threads and is played with a bow.
‘Ka Nakra` a huge drum, a kettle drum made of
wood having its head, made of deer
‘Padiah` a small drum made of wood.
‘Ka Ksing kynthei` - small
female drum played in
‘Katasa`a small circular drum,
its handle made of
‘Sing Naila` another kind of
flutes: - ‘Marynken` a jews` harp played by mouth.
‘Chuwiang` a popular bamboo
pipe used for
‘Tangmuri` made of wood
producing a hoarse
deep tune at dancing.
‘Pyniein chuwiang` made of cane
‘Bikur` a kind of trumpet.
Khasis and Jaintias are music lovers and considered a musical race
in this part of the world. ‘Until recently, their songs had
little or no words. These were simply tunes like whistling. It is
said that except the Englishmen and the Khasis, no other people in
the world are so prone to whistling at work, at leisure and
Khasis and Jaintias consider ` Ka Duitara` (the harp) as the
queen of music for its highly flown and inspired melodious tunes a
minstrel singing on `Ka Duitara` is said to have drawn the
hearts of his listeners to the world of legends and romance. And
many things are mixed up in the singing and chanting of the minstrel
playing on ‘Ka Duitara`, with the tales of wonder, magic,
miracles and philosophy. Sometime the musicians engage themselves in
debates along with music on their strings and eloquence on their
FESTIVAL OF THE BIATES
- L Pianga Darnei
and Historical Background
legend goes, the first Biate ancestors were said to have emerged out
of a big cave called Sinlung. From this originating place, they
traveled and wondered through out the length and breadth of the
Chinese Country. At last, they entered Mizoram via the Rili Dil (Ri
Lake) which is located somewhere Mizoram – Myanmar (Burma) border.
So far as the known historic is concerned, the settlement of our
ancestor may be traced back to erstwhile Lushei Hills (now Mizoram)
during the early part of the 16th Century. Our
forefathers once lived there at a place called “Lungver” (a stone
hole). There they worshiped a python (Rulpui) as god. They were
living in such a piteous condition that they had to feed Rulpui by
offering their children one after another as and when the demand
arose by making suitable rotation from house to house. This Python
worshiping and the settlement of our ancestors at Lungver is confirm
by the book name” The Lushei-Kuki Clans” written by J Shakespeare.
The Biate ancestors thence moved to the northern part of Mizoram and
established a permanent village called “Biate Village” there. This
village (Biate) still stands as the largest and oldest village in
Mizoram today. There are also some places and rivers like Champhai,
Saitual, Phaileng, Rengtetlang (now Vairengte), Raifan dung etc.
exclusively named by our fore fathers during their settlement in
the early part of the 17th century, majority of our
forefathers emigrated from the Northern Lushai Hill to the present
state of Tripura (Biates call it “Vairengram”). The then Maharaja of
Tripura treated our community as subject loyal to him. He also
granted them autonomy to look after their own affairs. They, in
turn, paid to the Maharaja in the form of labour, paddy and other
crops. For his convenience administration the Maharaja appointed two
heads or Governors called “Kalim” and “Kabur”
from amongst the community. These two Heads were given the
responsibility for the all round development and administration with
in the Biate inhabited area. So, the Kalim and Kabur
always maintained constant liaison with the Maharaja. It is
important to note that as a token of his appointment and honour, the
Maharaja presented a bracelet made of platinum or super fine Rupa
(Silver) each to our Kalim and Kabur. These arm
bracelets are known as “Bala’s. The Bala is handed
over from generation to generation whenever a new Kalim or
Kabur is appointed as per the Biate Customary Law. These two
Bala’s are still worn by the incumbents Kalim and Kabur till
today. The Maharaja of Tripura recognized the tribe as ‘BIATE’ or
“HALAM BIATE” only.
land of Maharaja (Vairengram), they further moved to northern Cachar
(now North Cachar Hills District) during the later part of the 17th
century. When they enter North Cachar Hills, they began to live with
Dimasa people under Hidimba Kingdom (headquarter at Maibang).
The Dimasa king recognized them as a separate and distinct tribe.
Since then the Dimasa people in their own dialect called as ‘Bedesa’
to distinguish the Biate from any other tribes. It is also
undenying fact in the history of the Hidimba kingdom that
once a Biate warrior was installed as Commander at Khorongma Fort
(near Garampani) by the Dimasa king defend his kingdom from the
possible attack of the Jaintias (now in Meghalaya). As told by the
Biate elderly people, the story of a Dimasa General name Tuluram
Senapati who personally visited the Biates villages like Khobak,
Vaitang, Sangbar etc. to settle a petty dispute between the Biates
and Hrangkhols over the matter of deity worshipping.
mean time, some of the Biate forefathers even moved as far as
Jaintias hills of Meghalaya and settle at a place called ‘Saipum’
(now Saipung Ilakaor Constituency). Even after their settlement at
Saipum, they still maintained their subjectivity to the Dimasa king
of North Cachar Hills and paid tribute to him, which lasted for some
years. As years passed by, they began to live under the Jaintia king
who also recognized them as ‘Biate’ only. The Jaintia people,
however, in their own language often called the Biates ‘Hadem’ to
signify “people who have come from Hidimba kingdom”. In 1865, the
final partition of North Cachar Hills and the Jaintia Hills took
place and the British Authority took full control over the
administration of the whole region. Thenceforth, the Biate brethren
in Jaintia hills started paying taxes as imposed by the British,
either at Jowai or Cherapunjee while the Biate in North Cachar Hills
also dropped their taxes either at Gunjung or Asalu (near Mahur).
back to North Cachar Hills, the Biates are one of the earliest tribe
who entered the District, participated in the demand and formation
of the present North Cachar Hills Autonomous (District) Council
after the Indian independence. The North Cachar Hills Autonomous
Council since its inception recognized the Biate Tribes as separate
and distinct tribes of the District. It is worth
-mentioning that Late C T Thanga, a Biate leader and elected member
of the Council was the first man to occupy the prestigious post of
the Deputy Chairman of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council,
when it was it was formed in 1952, (SDO (Civil) was the Ex- Officio
Chairman during that time).
of the Biates
used to observe community festival (Kût) for about five times
in a year namely:
Tamthar Kût and
people observed these festivals (Kût) from time immemorial.
These Kût were observed and celebrated in every village and
in different time and date according to their convenience.
Kût is the most important festival of the Biate tribe. It is
observed and celebrated during the month of December or early part
of January every year. The importance and significance of this
festival is that it is regarded as the “Festival of Renewal of Life”
by the Biate people. As such, it is the most revered festival which
is being celebrated by the Biate people every year.
ancient people considered this festival as a symbol for the
beginning of a new year. The people observed this remarkable day by
offering religious rites followed by social functions like
performing cultural dances, singing folk songs, drinking liquor (Zu)
and various kinds of merry-making. The people of all ages,
especially the women folk dressed themselves in their colorful
attires. People also indulged themselves in playing games and sports
of various kinds all day long. They enjoyed it as the beginning of a
new life of the New Year. Before they start new activities of life
like cultivation, construction of dwelling houses etc, they enjoyed
together during this festival so as to renew their strength and
determination before they enter the New Year. The people were
supposed to forgive and forget their short-comings, sorrows and
discontentment arising out of their past deeds. Hence the occasion
was also regarded as a day of forgiveness. Another important feature
of this festival is that it was also celebrated as a day of prayer
led by the village priest (Thiampu). People assembled
together in one place and pray to God whole heartedly and with all
humility and sanctity for the forgiveness of their past sins and
errors. They also sought kindness and blessings from God for their
prosperity in the coming year. In this way, the people indeed
renewed their faith and commitment before God on that day. Another
interesting feature of this festival is that the elderly people met
together in the house of the village chief (Siarkalim) and
held a village Durbar Meeting (Devan). There they sat down
around a pitcher (Kola) full of home made liquor (Zu).
They sucked the liquor one after another sharing a single bamboo
pipe (Thlongthli) while they discussed about their
agricultural activities, fishing, hunting and the administration of
the village. Similarly, the youths of the village also had a day
long programmed during this festival. Young men and women were led
outdoors by their parents because of the variety of programmes they
had to accomplish on that day. As a result, the youths were able to
mixed up together, could meet and talk face to face to one another
and availed an opportunity for choosing their would-be life
Kût is observed in the month of March just after cutting jhum before
burning for the cultivation. In this festival the village gathered
together in appointed places where the village priest lead the
people and pray to God for His blessing and prosperous cultivation.
In this festival there is no much of merry making and enjoyment.
However, the people use to drink rice beer to celebrate the
festival is observed in the month of May after sowing seeds to thank
God after hard labour of sowing seeds in the jhum cultivation. The
village priest offered religious rites and thanks God and pray for
good germination of seeds in their jhum. They used to drink rice
beer (Zu) together for the whole day to observe and celebrate
Kût is generally observed when all the vegetables come to harvesting
stage. The people happily gathered together to thank God for the
blessing they received. The man and women folk use to drink rice
beer to celebrate the occasion and they would also sing various
”A so muala e haithei an ra.Zongte a pham pui luatin huat
nan nei. Thanimnu neh kei nin di khua vonlai .
Naifan a phane mo pui luata tlei nan kin nei”.
Kût is observed and celebrated when the paddy comes to harvesting
stage. The people feel relief as the paddy had ripened and thus they
would celebrate by feasting and merry making all day long.
festivals the village priests use to offer prayer and thank God for
His blessings. People used to sing a song the whole day drinking
home-made beer (Zu). The song commonly sang are:
“Zarkhua mau hong ichoi a bete`n
Taite vang hia kan
Akhume hiro ritva chiar ei kan.”
festivals the Biate people dressed themselves in their colourful
attires like hair band made of cane (Ritai), earring made of
silver (Kuar bet), and their colourful cloths made by
their dances, instrument like Jamluang (Gong), Khuang
(Drum), Chongpering (A kind of guitar), Seranda
(Violin), Rosem (A kind of flute made of bamboo) etc. are
used to play during singing and dancing.
various kind of dances too namely - Buantum Lam, Darlam,
Kolrikhek Lam which are performed by the men folk and Tuipui
lenthluk Lam, Rikifachoi Lam, Ar-ek inuai Lam, Sulribum Lam, Mebur
Lam are performed by the women folk.
the popular song sang during the festival are:
sechal tha kha sizol neh an hoi
tha kha lamzol neh an hoi
chunga ki chuang in
darvuai tha kha ka pom in sual ta e.”
sun taka simni sua hoia
lalin thai a ruai an ti
Chulkhothim ang ken ngil inunga
puan lan an athar ta e.”
tho taro ka chim khuanpui thluk,
lom hai sarang lam zoi ta.
noning ka rual itha hai
khan zoitur ane run e.”
nitho zamjoi kunga thlai ni ne thlaka,
thabei lung ruka ni nei
sial la va ruai de rei e.”
songs are generally sung during Nûlding Kût by both men and women
folk. They killed mithun and pig for sacrificial purpose and
great feast are arranged for the whole day. Thus the Biate people
use to celebrate the festival (Kût) in great pomp and
following are the main food and drink items used during the Biate
festivals. Local jhum rice, Rice bear make of local rice, dishes
prepared with pork, chicken, mithun meat, mutton etc.
Festivals of the Vaipheis
- Ginthang Vaiphei
- S T Kapa Vaiphei
Vaiphei tribe according to historians is one of the branches of
Mongolian stock of race. It has also been claimed and ascertained by
the geologists and chronologists and that, the Vaipheis and certain
clans of the Tribes came from China, more particularly, from the Tan
valley, in Kansu province. It is further claimed that the Vaipheis
are one of the tribes who settled in the Tibetan foot hills after
their exodus from the China.
inaccessible heights and rough mountains deep terrains and gorges,
our fore-fathers could not make China as a place of their permanent
Settlement. As a result they move back from Tibet, to wards the
plains and more fertile areas of (the then called Burma) Myanmar.
Thus they gradually moved down along the Chindwin River. (the
Meiteis called it as Ningthi River) and spread in the Kachin and
Shan State of Myanmar (Burma).
settling for quite for some time in that Kachin and Shan States the
Vaipheis crossed the Chindwin (Ningthi) river and made temporary
settlement there in the Chindwin valley. From there again they moved
south-wards to Kalameo valley that is after crossing the Jangmual
Range. (Also called as Indo-Chin by the Meiteis)
settling there, the Vaiphei heroes’ in-course of their hunting and
expeditional trips, they found out present Chin-Hills. It has been
narrated that, there they found most of the vast virgin land,
consequently they left their formal settlement of Kachin and Shan
States and migrated at Chin-Hills and settling there, at first, at
Saijang inhabitation, they again moved to Chimnuai Area of Burma.
They established a village called Chimnuai Village. But that
Chimnuai Area was also not fit for making permanent settlement.
They, therefore, moved again to the Eastern Region, known as
living there for a pretty long time, the Vaipheis scattered and made
separate settlements for themselves in different areas and places,
viz: Phaiza, Khawsim and since then the Vaipheis adopted a more
reformed village administration and compact cultural life.
of time enmity between different tribes came up and factional wars
between sections of tribes been waged at intervals. The Vaipheis,
who settled, then in-compact areas, had been broken up and scattered
resulting, in later time, in spreading in different areas and
regions. Some moved westwardsand settled in Manipur, some in Lushai
Hills (the present Mizoram), some are in North Cachar Hills and
Meghalaya and some other sections remained in the Chin-Hills of
Burma until now.
expansions of British Power in the North Eastern region of India,
the last and the final phase of mass scattering and collective
migrations of the Vaipheis; in tune with their nomadic backgrounds
had come to an end.
of the Vaipheis
Vaipheis have many types of festivals. Some of major festivals are:
Chapchal Kut: Held in February
Chichawi Kut: Held in April 1st
Lawmkivak Kut: Held in May 1st
awichawkik Kut: Held in Engaging time
Lawmsial tha Kut: Held in October
Chavang Kut : Held in November
Khawhau Kut : Held in December Last week
means the felling of trees and bamboos during jhum cutting ‘Chal’
means “keeping the chap” under the sunshine to dry-up for setting
fire. ‘Kut’ means festival. Therefore, Chapchal Kut
means the Festivals celebrated after cutting jungles for jhuming
successfully. This is the beginning of yearly jhum cultivation and
hard tolls of the villagers. This is observed in the month of
means ‘seed’ ‘chawi’ means ‘sow’. ‘Kut’ means
festivals. So, ‘Chichawi kut’ means the festival of sowing
seeds. This festival is being celebrated when sowing seeds after
cutting jungle for jhum cultivation and burning clearing “Chap felt
trees and bamboos”. This festival is celebrated in the first week of
group of youth working together. This is a very Unique Festival of
the community that jhum cultivation and other hard works are done in
a group by ‘young and girls’ doing the work of one household and
others day by day that they complete the work in one jhum and more
in a day with merry-making. ‘Kivak’ means ‘feast’. So, This
“Lawmkivak” means the festival of ‘Lawm-feast’. This festival
is celebrated in the month of May after sowing seeds by ‘Lawm’
means ‘engage’ or ‘hire’ ‘Chawkik’ means ‘engage in extra
work’. Thus, ‘Gawichawkik’ means “an extra engage in extra
work” by any household after the ‘Lawm work’. This means the
Lawm work is done only of the members of the work for one
day, which they generally completed in one day. However some works
might be in completed. In this juncture, the householder will have
to request the group ‘Lawm’. The ‘Lawm’ will work for
the said house-holder and will organize a feast in the outskirt of
the Village where the ‘Lawm’ will be back after completing
the work in evening. After the feast merry-making is done by the
group ‘Lawm’ for entertaining themselves and the host for
completing the balance work.
means a group of youth for social service (Free of cost). ‘Sial’
means ‘Mithun’. ‘That’ means ‘killed’. This means a
festival celebrated in the month of last part of September every
year after the hard tolls of
jhum cultivation when plucking of weeds thrice in the season by the
‘Lawm’ just before harvesting in the free time of the hard
means ‘autumn’, ‘Kut’ means ‘festival’. So, ‘Chavang-kut’
means ‘Festival of autumn’ which is observed in the month of
November after the harvesting is over. This is celebrated with the
arrangement made by the ‘Lawm’ or group of youth after the
hard work of the year.
festival is celebrated at the end of the year before standing of New
Year’s work, which is celebrated only by the prominent elders and
priests (Thiampu) for purification of the village. On this
day no one is allowed to go out from their residence and must be
confined in their respective houses. Such restriction is known as “UM-MIT-NI”
meaning a day of total rest.
villagers or the community should have put out all the fire in their
respective houses, on this restricted day. The lights (Fire) may be
then lighted by only priests of the villages. Then the villagers
have to collect the new lights (Fire) from the priest (Thiampu)
after throwing or putting out of the old lights (Fire).
Dances of the Vaipheis
Vaipheis are rich in cultural heritage. Like other tribes, they also
have different kinds of dances and musical accompaniments which are
practiced as the occasion demands. Some of the most prominent
Vaiphei dances are:-
Instruments of the Vaipheis
musical Instruments, the following are the most prominent and
commonly used ones:-
The tribal xylophone made of wood.
Big gong bulging in the middle.
Smaller gong also bulging in the center.(In set)
Plate like gong non-bulging and of three gongs in set.
A small bamboo pipes of 2-3 inches long in three sets.
Beatings of Mithun’s horn.
following are the common songs of the Vaipheis with an explanation
The Song: ‘Bollawnga le vachawnga, Sial hi ngam pa bawl inge...’
The Song: ‘Pa pa la gui ding, Tu-sawn changbang dam hen aw...’
The Song: ‘Tulai taka ka lungtup dang umlo, Thi mel
muna’n thangvan dawng nuaminge’
inherit him (Heirless).
The Song: (1) Kumsing
(2) Mi’n ti luai luai e, Thai chuailo intha
a kia hi aw...
festivals and function and in any other
Song: ‘Sialkal bungpilon nuai ah aw,Ka ngai lungnem Pumkhai Ni
The Song : ‘I chung sawltha a man leh, Si al lai thangvan
tuanglam Lo sul ang ngui e.....’
Song for the occasion of Buaih and Gaal aih festivals
The Song: ‘A kum chin tumpui zika, Thi ang lang e, Lal dinga
Khuan ei siam e....’
The Song: ‘Saang ka kaap ding vaitui piau e, A tuap ga zaal aw
occasion of ‘Nau Zu Neek’ function (Swasti Puja).
The Song: ‘Ka ding dung aw pigaw ding dung aw, Lal
chang ten la ngai e,Ka thaw lama ngawi li
bang ting e....’
The Song: ‘Ka peng hukin deng ing e,Zawl lai ann sawl e, Nui hiau
The Song: ‘Suangbeem te, Bem khawte lal sum lu tawk ,Khawmual
sial ang suak e.....’
The Song: ‘Minva tui bang khata piang ka hi ei mawh,
Chun sun suangpi lai zawn; Selh ka hi ei
The Song: ‘Sial a lian Sial a lian aw e, Bual
jaang te sial a lian aw e.....’
from the above songs ‘Chong ngo La, Khiang chawi La, Zaamang La,
Zama diai La’ are equally popular songs of the Vaipheis.
Traditional Games and Traditional Sports of the Vaipheis
Vaipheis, likes other hill tribes have their own traditional games
and sports. Of the many, the following items are common and worth
A games similar to that of Kabadi & kho-kho.
Running the Race.
Putting the shots.
Sukkhaw/Chei Cha khaw:
Kikung mui chun:
kawi kaap/Ki kaang kaap:
Playing with one rounded shell nut.
Tug of War.
Traditional Sports are usually played and engaged in the evening
times and in the moonlit nights by children and young stars of lower
age group. The collective term of such Traditional Sports and social
pass time is known; in the local dialect as ‘Kitual Thaw’ of
many such items of various tastes the following are more common and
usually played traditional sports.
kuk a: Hide & seek.
aw leilawn, leilawn.
aw him, him.
sawng bawk bawk.
lawng lawng a.
Nungak ê Tangval ê ki eng pim pem.
aw sial aw ki than sak.
keng keng vansam ken.
sut (A major sports for grown-ups)
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