TODAY -

Graphic and plastic arts of the Zeliangrong of NE
- Part 2 -

Dr Budha Kamei *



At the closes by two girls dancing together in the centre of the circle; the step is the same, but they change about as in a quadrille, and great use is made of movements with the hands. This and all the dances end by the men meeting in a close circle, holding up their daos and giving vent, simultaneously, to a long drawn hoey, once repeated. Gaan Laam is a young men's dance.

In this dance only the married and unmarried men engage two and two abreast in a circle, which moves round at first all together; the step is a single step forward, followed by pause in the stooping position, a sort of goose step, every one shout ho, ho, ho. In the latter part of the dance the circle divides into two, and go round one within the other in opposite directions; the circle again forms as before, and they meet in the centre and indulge in hoi in quick time, finishing up with howls.

Festival dance : The festivals dances are also known as Chapa Laam. They are Khangbon Kadi Laam, farewell dance to Khangbon (leader of the Khangchiu), Thei Kadi Laam, dance in honor of the dead, Tamchan Laam, Tuna Kadimei Laam (farewell dance to a bride) etc. Nanu Laam is not a festival dance; it is more fertility dance. Dances like Laophun, Laoreo, Laotai, Laodi Laam etc demonstrate the movement of hand depicting the seed sowing, weeding, cutting of paddy plants and harvest are included in the Chapa Laam.

Man learns from nature the form of dancing based on the movements of birds, animals and insects. Dances of imitation of animals and insects are Gaa Laam, crab dance, Khoiguna Laam, bee mating dance, Kit Laam, cricket dance, Raengdai Laam, dance of hornbill, Goichei Bang Laam, the dance of movement of the horn of the bull, Apang Laam, huluk (monkey) dance of plucking fruits, Tareng Laam, spinning dance etc. All the festival and ritual dances are accompanied by relevant songs and musicals instruments like drum, cymbals, gong etc.

Dance techniques : There are four dance techniques developed by the people. They are Makhom Laam which is originated from Makhom village (Marangjing), Dinglen, standing in rows, Phaicheng Laam, dance movement from left to right feet and Pheigoumei Laam, waving dance cloths by standing. In Makhom Laam, the male dancer stands straight and jump with right step. The right hand will rise with the Baang Chakhiu with the rhythm of the drumbeat.

Musical instruments : The musical instruments of the Zeliangrong are Khong, drum made of hollow wood covered by the hide, Senmu, gong, Senkhiang, cymbal, Goichei, horn of the mithun, Nrah, harp etc. These musical instruments have cultural values.

Folk songs : The folk songs form the essence of the Zeliangrong culture. It is believed that song is divine origin. Men adopted the songs sung by gods. Their songs express their love, their hardship, hope, frustration, victory etc. Some of the important folk songs are as follows:

Work songs : Laophun Lu is a seed sowing song. The songs are sung to make the work more progress and goddess of paddy happy. It is believed that the goddess of paddy feels happy and blesses a bountiful harvest if the cultivators work in a happy mood. Lao Ruaih Lu, a song of weeding is sung to please goddess of paddy and to forget the trouble and pain during cultivation. The songs may be sung responsive-manner or lead and follow by two groups. No instrument is used as accompaniment of the songs, however an imaginary rhythm is always followed uniformity.

Ritual songs : Maku Luh is a song sung on the occasion of great ritual sacrifices like Banru, Taraang Kai etc. They are not sung at the common functions and festivals. Matui Lu is a song of the Thian, dormitories. These songs are sung to stimulate a sense of positive competitions among themselves for the wellbeing of the village. Kuan Lu is a song sung on different religious occasions and ceremonies. No one should commit mistake in singing the song. Hymns are recited by an elder of Pei as prayer song to Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God for wellbeing and prosperity.

Song of flour pounding : Jou Sou Lu is a song of rice pounding. A lot of rice-beer and breads are required in the celebration of special ritual ceremonies like Banru, Matui, Taraang Kai. And for the purpose, rice is pounded by the boys and girls of the village some days ahead of the ritual ceremonies. The song is accompanied by musical instruments like drum, gong, cymbal etc. Drum beating does synchronize the song with the thrashes of pestle and it continues till the flour is properly pounded.

Agricultural ritual song : Katu Lu is an agricultural ritual song sung by the members of Khangchiu on the festive occasion of Gudui or Maleg ngai by marching from one end of the village to another for plentiful harvest.

War song : In the distant past, Rih Lu, the war song was sung on the occasion of Kavoumei ritual when a warrior brought enemy's head or killed wild animals like tiger, bear or python. It is usually performed at the house of Ritu Kaibang.

Harvest songs : Maja Lu is a song of the paddy. These songs are sung on the occasions related to the harvest. It is a song sung praising of goddess of paddy for abundant harvest. Generally, the song is sung by a person inside the house; when the song is just ended, everyone who is present will shout Laogai, Laogai. Gong is accompanied as musical instrument. Maja Kaileng Pat Lu, a song of pre-harvest is sung to please goddess of paddy for good harvest. Kailaam Lu is also a pre-harvest song sung to please rice goddess for bountiful harvest.

Village guarding songs : Kairong Ron Lu is a song sung by the youth and warriors to give a sense of security to the villagers during night time. In short, it is a kind of guard song.

Festival songs : Festival songs are also known as Chapa Lu. It is a common song sung at the time of dance of the annual Gaan-Ngai festival.

(To be continued ....)


* Dr Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 11, 2017.



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