Rel Kahoi : A festival of the Kharam tribe
- Part 2 -

Lempu Rangla aka Ted Mosby *

A cultural dance show of the Kharam Tribe
A cultural dance show of the Kharam Tribe :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao

On the second day morning Kataar's member will served drinks at laamtol again. And after each member from kalen nai, lomtaang nai, lapu nai, arrived Khongpu(drummer) will do the honour of (judan) where in he has to sip rice beer from a rice beer pot itself using a pipe made of bamboo(special type of bamboo and pretty small). And if the khongpu finished sipping the water pour at the first place more water will be poured until a certain limit as decided is reached.

And like the first day Khullakpa will be brought in a palanquin and make him sit on bertei again. And as the chief occupy his place dance will follow where every member present at that time will dance around the tree where the chief is made to sit, and different type of dance will be danced.

Which will be followed by sports session where sports like weight lifting, pistle lifting, wrestling etc will be competited and it is make sure that the kataar group is always in the finale. After all these events the Kataar's member will take the final call when to end the day, and the chief will be brought down and this will marked the end of the second day, and each group will at night time report to their respective leader's place for the gathering and merry making.

On the third day the same process followed till where Khullakpa is made to sit on bertei. But on the third day it consist mainly of dancing competition, and group dance like Bantang kei, Sala Ralle, where every member participating in the dance will join hand together and aren't suppose to drop, and they also will turn front and then back without dropping off their hand it is indeed something beautiful to watch and people from the audience will sing songs and cheers them and when any dancer slips his/her hand people enjoyed watching them.

At sunset, the chief will be brought down and will be dropped at his place and member celebration at their leader's place followed. On the fourth day the Kataar's members will serve drinks for all again but on this day the chief after brought in a palanquin wouldn't be made to sit on bertei but rather on the ground where he will occupy the same platform along with each members of the Kataar in a row and a feast will be held where the wife of each of the Kataar member will bring food made of one cock, plates to served and other extra special dish menu is welcome base on the condition of the household affordability, but one cock is like mandatory cause if you can't afford it, it is humiliating as almost every males and females groups will be watching you from outside waiting for their turn to be called. And tang ulen a man chosen to cut the rope in a tug of war game between the Kataar and others group will act as a volunteer and in this case more tang ulen will be selected and it is usually don by the kalen nai.

Here the Kataar's member wouldn't take meal to their heart content but rather it is just for formality, and when they are done Yar Bukheng will be announced after which all the males, females, and children waiting for their turn will rush to have a share in the remains of the said feast served, and it is said that they sometime ended in getting nothing where some manage to fill their stomach, it is solely base on your physique to push and pull and create a space of your own.

And the one who manage to have maximum will brag when they gather at night time at their respective leader's home for merry making and night gathering. And yes it needs to be noted that all the rushes is not because they are hungry but rather it is a part of the fest wherein people enjoyed watching the scene.

And laamsiem, lakhounoi etc which comprises of dances and singing will follow suit. At sunset people will go to their homes and each members of the above mention groups to their respective leader's place but Lapu who are incharge of a song among the male group will returned to laamtol and sing “theiwor laa “ a song dedicated to their seeds they have sowed or are about to sow, using a special leafs called bor, and after they are done singing they will throw this bor towards laamtol khoukham which is usually the lower part/beneath loisang which is also a special place of gathering for the kataar's member.

On the final day it is celebrated not in Laamtol but rather on the river which is closes to the host village. Rel tui Kabol which means bathing on Rel fest. Which will be spear headed by Kataar's member, lapu nai, lapi nai, lomtang nai. The water where they are going to have a mass bathing will be cleansed, on this very day fishing will be done where water will be made to change its course of flow by blocking it with stones and pebbles, and spreading clothes to further protect leakages, and sand and clay will be used to further improved the blocking.

And after water recede its level special bark from a specific tree(karu) will be brought and crush which will result in suffocating the fish and after the fishes is caught it will be equally divided among the groups again. And here Lapu group will sing Aikhur Kashun which literally means inserting/putting a stick or a spear inside a crab's hole. And when they returned home each members of the groups will gather their share and cooks at their leader's place and make merry the whole night. This will mark the end of the said festivals-Rel Kahoi.

NB : Lapu Laamrang-he is the leader of the male group who are suppose to compose songs, sings on various occasion, and if once you are member of lapu it is for your life time. And in case of women it is called Lapi laamrang. And a member in each of this groups are called as lapu nai, and lapi nai respectively.

Rothar: is a man when he attains the puberty but is still unmarried, and when he is the oldest among the unmarried man he eventually become the Rothar Upa, where he will housed the whole male groups under his guidance; and in case of woman it is called Nungak.

Kalen: it is based on clan and they followed dormitory system where they chose a house (opposite clan) which have a marriageable age group girls and sleeps in their house and help them on various occasion like cleaning the compound, clearing forest for cultivation etc, but it is not necessary that they must marry from the houses they slept, but if the girls from the house got married off, they have to choose another house which have marriageable girls.

Kataar: the collective body of the village council, it usually consist of 8 members, and the chief heads them, they are like the cabinet ministers in today's present administrative system. And one remarkable thing about them is that they have their respective pipe(made of bamboo) to sip beer(local rice beer) and it is very strict that no ordinary person can drink from the chief's pipe or the one below him, there is hierarchy among them as well.

Lomtaang : the whole village population is divided into two groups namely shakteng(upper) and thangkeng(lower) lomtaang groups and if once you are a member of this groups it is for lifetime, and they compete with each other like who has more members, know more songs, history etc, and they are the arch rival. And they try to increase their member by offering rice beer to the parents of the new born to make them one of them. And the member in it are known as lomtaang nai. The writer is at Tata Institute of Social Science Mumbai, MA in Development Studies.


* Lempu Rangla aka Ted Mosby wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is doing his MA in Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Science Mumbai
This article was webcasted on December 30, 2013.

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