TODAY -

Chothe Achui Lin festival
- Part 2 -

Dr Cheithou Charles Yuhlung *

 Chothe Dance at the Festival of Tribal Dance :: March 26 2012
Chothe Dance at the Festival of Tribal Dance on March 26 2012 :: Pix - Bullu Raj



Some socio-cultural significances observed between the Innampei and Achui Lin/ Rhin with regards to this evening session is that; the womenfolk initiates the choir of singing using drums, unlike in the Innampeilin where the men folks initiate the choir.

Secondly, an elderly person (should) introduce this evening sword dance Chamtun lam with the damsels as part of rehersal, where the young boys are refrained from participating, but left them to admire the maidens.

Later by mid-night,the host performed his closing prayer, signifying the end of Tuituk festival and everyone retires. Later, the youth escorted the three chiefs to their respective homes.

Day 4 (Thursday) :

Since, there is no strict formal ritual and ceremony the village elders discussed certain village issues while they ate the dog meat (Muthidang) and drink.

Initiation of the youth or promotion ceremony of Matured-adult, if any, is carried out at this session. Besides, the village council resolves any public petition and grievances brought to them. They said any petitions submitted to the village council on this very day the decisions are lenient and merciful, since the chiefs/ leaders are in good festive spirits.

This day also mark the beginning of the main Achui (Chultuk/Tuituk) festival. Therefore,a common meal is usually organised by the village council, where they invite special guests and friends from far and near. After the common meal, they spent the rest of the day visiting other families to taste their rice-beers and indigenous breads (Butoi).

However, by 5 pm after the dinner, all the village council members assembled inside the festive house to begin the main celebration of Achuilin festival. The host performed the opening prayer Tongkaipa, followed by Zurum. After which,as they began to sing the Achuilaa songs, some youth leaders began the jubilant war dance (Chamtun lam) encircling the house pillar as part of the customary introduction.

After completing three songs, the dancing team first went outside the house, followed by drummer and elders. Here, the young boys and girls including the children who await outside eagerly joins the party. Soon, two lines were form: boys (on right/ outer side) and girls (on left/ inner side) led by senior youth leaders who dance encircling the big courtyard/Laman (supposed to be with bonfire under full moon).

This Chothe jubilant war dance (Chamtun lam) appeared similar with the Kachin (Poi/Pong/Shan) war dance. They performed the same jubilant war dance, songs after songs. According to the type of songs, the drumbeats are changed to suit the enthusiastic mood of the dancer and the audience. There wasa break after three-five songs each, followed by Zurums.

Often, experienced dancers replaced the dance leaders when they got tired during the breaks. Before they conclude this evening session, there is along break where some youth entertained the audience with their expertise performing skits and dramas, jokes, western dances, singing competition and other entertaining items.

After this main break, they continued for a while singing and dancing. Then, when all participants got tired then, only senior dancing boys went inside the house dancing followed by the drummers and eldersto wind up the session. They dance inside the house till the song ends. After a short chit-chat the host performed the closing prayer Tongkaipa, followed by the Zurum and all retired home.

Day 5-6 (Friday-Saturday) :

No ceremonies are performed on Friday and Saturday morning and afternoon, except for the dancing session in the evening. Therefore, people go visiting houses by this time to taste their indigenous bread and sticky rice-beer (Zu-ngou).

However, after dinner by 5-6 pm all villagers gathered at the festive house to see the youths’ dance like Thursday evening. The same procedure was carried out untill mid-night on Friday and Saturday evenings. This means three days of youth dancing was organised, except on Saturday. However, from last year they have cancelled these two days because of socio-economic reasons.

Traditionally, to conclude on the last day, the youth performed the ceremonies of Tongthi-lashukpa (lit. removing the wine pipes) and Thoukeipa ceremony.

And in the past, (L) H. Gulapsing said, ”In earlier days, on Saturday afternoon the youth units’ made formal report (Nungak-luthei Sikan Ongpa) ceremony where Pakhanglakpa and Tangsha would punished the disobedient youth by thrashing with canestick (Sikan) and imposed a bottle of wine as fine”.

It may be noted that training, education and morality were taught even during the festive season especially youths who were enrolled in the dormitory of youth’s unit or bachelor’s house.

Day 7 (Sunday) :

To conclude, in the morning, the village head priest (Theimpu) and his associates performed thevaledictory ceremony Konjaijaichepahongpa(lit. the gathering of crystal ball divination) at their sacred-grove for the Achuilin festival by paying homage, making thanking giving offerings and finally consulting divination to their deities.

Then the head priest return to the village chief’s house and reported the divination prophesies to the village chief and other village council members present by offering simple prayer.

Traditionally, after all the important ceremonies and formalities were completed, the village organises‘Indigenous Youth Games and Sports’ like- shot-put throw (Tanghunglungthong), javelin throw, hunting, race, longjump and others. The winners were adjudged as the strongest man and women for the year. Finally, when all the games were completed the village chief made his conclusion prayer (Tongkaipa) inside his house, thus, winding the celebration.

Conclusion:

From the above description, it is observe that all the Chothe festivals began on Monday on or after (10 days) of the Full/ New Moon of the lunar calendar. The festivals signifies the Post-harvest (Achuilin/Rhin) and Pre-seed sowing (Innampeilin/ Rhin) feastivals to express their thanksgiving to their Almighty Heavenly Supreme Gods Thangvan Rengpa, Pu Lungchungpa (Pakhangpa) and Pi Leima the elementary cosmic Gods.

Three basic forms of worship in their daily practical life is witness. First, they adore, revere, and worship the above three Gods. Secondly, they revere and honour their ancestors with respect and gratitude, and thirdly, they offered appeasement rituals to the lower gods orother deities to be on safer side in their daily interaction.

This is clearly visible from many of their rites and rituals performed in the benediction, valedictory rituals and in many parts of their socio-religious ceremonial offerings.

The second most important aspect is the different types of divinations performed in all major rituals as prescribed accordingly.

The third significant aspect is that anysimple prayer (Tongkaipa) followed by Zurum was performed at the same place to signifies the beginning and end of each session. For example, in the Innkulin, Fho-parakpa, Chamtun lam and Thoukeipa ceremonies it all indicates that it end where it started. All these ceremonial aspects show that the Chothes in the past had well established socio-cultural system swith well defined structures.


Concluded....

Note: This year the ChotheAchui Lin festival will commence from 9th-12th September 2019.


* Dr Cheithou Charles Yuhlung wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 09 2019.



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