TODAY -

Chaakan Gaan-Ngai : Festivals among the Zeliangrongs
- Part 2 -

Dr. Heera Marangmei *

Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal :: 2011
Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal 2011 :: Dr. Heera Marangmei



Similar advices and warnings are also conducted at girls Dormitory (LUCHU) headed by Tuna Mhunshimei and Tunapi (senior most Girl/head of girls). It is said that no whipping with cane is done to the girls but twisted cloth is used and it is handled by Tunapi. On completion of this gathering and head of the boys (thingkhangloi kapi/makok) will delegate his juniors to inform/request the Banja for the early next day programme of offering of ritual prayer and offering of fine ginger and good egg to Keipi Bambu (God protecting the northern gate of the village) and Kaiba Bambu (God protecting the southern gate of the village).

This performance is called * Guulim dhan jaomei or Bambujang Lahmei* (Spliting of fine ginger by the knife and dropping it on the ground at the site of Northern and Southern Dieties of the Village). This ritual is performed to protect each and every person of the village,young and old and to prevent from untoward happenings by Kaipi Bambu and Kaiba Bambu.

In earlier days, boys headed by Khangbon, girls headed by Tuna Mhunshingmei slept in their respective dormitories anxiously waiting to welcome the Chakan Gaan-Ngai. Folk stories were told and folk songs were taught to the young boys and girls. It is quite difficult to say whether these activities are carried out or not.

Ngai Gongmei (First Day of Chakan Gaan-Ngai):- The boys sleeping in Khangchu on hearing the first cock crows of the day break (practiced before time piece was not commonly used) or crack of dawn, they beat the waking up drum or welcoming beat of Chakan Gaan-Ngai. This first Beating of -5- Drum in pleasant rhythm is signified the waking up of Supreme God, Haipou Ragwang, and beseech for opening of His Golden Gate and Greeting of Chakan Gaan-Ngai to Him. (The first beating of rhythmic drum, awakening Haipou Ragwang before Guu lim dhan Jaomei differs from one village to another, because some villages beat the drum after ritual. To make the significance clear of the former, every holy temple, church etc has a bell to ring before opening the door of the temple. In place of of bell, Zeliangrong People use a drum. To add to it, any visitor either ring the calling bell,knock the door or call the name before entering other house.).

The young boys will awake one of the members of Pei to perform traditional rite and ritual of 'Guu lim dhan jaomei or Bambujang Lamei.The elder Pei member will perform this ritual first to Keipi Bambu (Kaipi Shongpu) with the offering of ginger and an egg and to the Kaiba Bambu (Kaiba Shongpui) with the similar offers. This invokes the deities of Keipi Bambu and Keiba Bambu to protect the village people from any accident or unforeseen happenings during the festivity days.

Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal :: 2011
Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal 2011 :: Dr. Heera Marangmei



Offering prayer to Kaipi Bambu;

Kaipi Shongpu shu-re asheimu aalammei namthanmei katingkum gong-ganglana ashei
Gaan-Ngai guang lana anammei athenmei kakhum kagai lungkho kabu kachei mak-khang lat sha luhson maan mak-khang,
shunu naonen mak-khang shipuikam ding kok dinglailoupu-o che!
Alammei mathiu meigoiso athenmei ka-ngaibang khou gaina ngaichuina gaipuinide tue tei chamdin pat-tho,
mei guu lim hei phaicham lap-lap louthoche:
Kaipi Shongpu nanglhou lat than putungthe latdin chuilou-o che :


Same offering is made to Kaiba Shongpui, only to replace Kaiba Shongpui in place of Kaipi Shongpu. After returning from the ritual of Bambujang Lamei to Khangchu, the elder member of Pei will offer oblation with home brewed wine to Haipou Ragwang, Supreme God for His blessing and for prosperity of mankind. The young boys will beat the drum rhythmically around the village heralding and greeting the commencement of Chakan Gan-Ngai. Boys from Khangchu with the help of Mhai-gang extract fire at the Long jump plot of the village. This fire signifies a holy/sacred fire. The member of Pei will proclaim to collect the fire by every household. This is done in the morning and the individual family lit the kitchen fire with it.

A young boy of Khangchu who catches a boar in the morning is praised by the Pei Member and the boar is killed. The spleen is examined by village elders for sign of good and evil that is to come in the following year.Gokpai zou is offered to Haipour Ragwang after examination and study of boar's spleen. The boar meat is cooked with its blood and consumed by all the members of Khangchu including the Pei members. Before consumption of boar meat, Hoi is heralded invoking Haipou Ragwang. This boar meat cooked with its blood is called ' Jei-gan Tumei'.This jei-gan tumei is a vow that the village people will stand united at the times of happiness and sorrows. Headgears called Pikam, are made out of Guu, partly burnt bamboo, by the Gaanpi and Thingkhangloi for the afternoon procession of Hoi.In the afternoon, when the sun declines westward is the time for short put and long jump competition.

This short put and long jump ground is known as Thianpung or Daan-pung.Every male member, young and old wear colourful shawls like phei-ngao, kharamphei, si-neiphei, masinphei,thiamphei, langthuphei and headgear made of Guu is put on and elder members hold the spears in their hand assemble at the Khangchu. Hoi is heralded and Holy wine is offered to Haipou Ragwang. Thingkhangloina dig the jumping ground (Daanshang pung) and short put stone is kept at the side, under the head of the daanshangpung by Gaanchang.

Young and old members of the village gather together at Khangchu in the afternoon and heralding Hoi. The elder member of Pei offers holy wine/rice beer and Chutney to Haipou Ragwang which is being given by the owner of Khangchu. From the Khangchu, Hoi is heralded and march towards to northern gate of the Village and ended Hoi there. Another Hoitan (New Hoi) is again heralded and march towards southern gate of the Village. Again Hoitan is again heralded and march towards northern gate.

Similar process is performed from southern gate to northern gate and halts at Thenpung (atheletic arena or jumping ground).The village headmen, Khunpu or Khullakpu will first throw the stone declaring the opening of the shot put competition .He is allowed to carry the stone at length and throw it. That point is marked so that no one can reached in short put throw by the competitors.Similary, long jump is also opened by either Khunpu of Khullapu and he is requested to jump on at the end point of the long jump pith with the loud cry of traditional sound of Ka-giat mei (manly able sound) and this point is also marked. It is believed that if any competitors over jumped and over shot the marks indicate bad sign for the village.

At the end of the competition, winner of shot-put and long jump are declared by elder Khangbon and younger khangbon respectively. This declaration of shot put is known as Tao-lan shuan and long jump is Daan-lan shuan.From the thianpung a long Hoitan is heralded and carry on the herald to Khangchu.In the past, the competitions include shot-put, long jump, wrestling, race,spear throw(javelin throw).At night hour boys and girls dine in Group (Nap tukaron-mei) visiting the participants' house, headed by Tuna-munshinmei ( male head of girls' dormitory).They visit the house singing traditional carol songs. They wish the family members a joyous Chakan Gaan-Ngai and prosperity life.

A group of Pei elders (Gaanchang) with Khangbon visit every house of the village by knocking at the door with the stick warning or cautioning that there should not be quarrel and not to speak evil or ill words during the festival. If the members fail to abide by the village head (Pei) will take appropriate action. This cautioning activity is known as Shaopat Danmei or Kaidap-mei.

On completion of visiting to the household, the elders return to the Ganchang Kaibang with heralding Rih lai Hoi procession. On this day of the evening, previous departed soul (dead person) of the family member is remembered and due honor is bestowed to him/her by offering a bowl of rice and curry, a glass of wine etc to the grave yard.

Oviously,the grave yard is beautified. This observation performed by the family member is called 'Thei meitei Ngai dongmei. (On this evening some villages of Zeliangrong observed Theikadimei and dance is presented in memory of departed soul to the bereaved family. But some villages observed it on different day during Chakaan Gaan Ngai).

Ngai-Dai ( or great Festival-the 2nd Day of Festival)

The second day of the festival is called Ngai-Dai, which means the Great Festival. But it is also known as Tamchan-Ngai. In the early morning Gaanpi Gandai (senior most male of Khangchu) and Tunapi Gandai (senior most female of Luchu) bring -7- their best presentation or contribution of eatable and home brewed rice beers (zou-ngao/zou dui) to Khangchu. This presentation of eatables and drinks are the generous contribution/subscription for the festival and is known as Tamcha.

On this day, parents or family members of bereaved family present the Last Tamcha in memory or in honor of deceased person of previous year. This presentation or contribution is known as Thei Tamcha. One of the Banja from Pei members pronounces the goodwill of the contributions presented by boys, girls and bereaved family members.

They pray to Almighty God, Haipou Ragwang for their prosperity and good health for the members who presented Tamcha. This appreciation proclaimed by Banja is known as Tamshuan. These presentations of vegetable or comestible are shared among the Khangchu, Luchu and Owners of the Dormitories (Khangchupei and Luchu Pei).

In the afternoon, elder members of Khangchu with the young boys go to every house of the boys and girls who brought Presentations (Tamcha) to Khangchu and pronounce appreciations and gratitude in the name of God on be half of Khangchu. Laamreng, a Traditional Dance programme is organized by girl folks only and presented to those families who presented Tamcha to Khangchu. Such dance is called Tamchan Laam.

Kairong Lonmei can be organized at night by the male folks on any day during Chakaan Gaan-Ngai, Rih-Ngai, Tun-Ngai etc. These days; we have not seen wearing war dresses called Rih-pheikao and spears in their hand while guarding the length and breadth of the village. These dresses are replaced by modern dresses; of course they put on Phei-ngao, traditional shawls. The male folks sing songs in praise of the might and courage of the people of the village throughout the night.

This is also termed as guarding the village for the whole night against any bad elements or enemies from attacking the village. The songs are so meaning full and heart touching that some families invite the group to visit their houses during silent night and offer drin! ks and eatable. The group while entering the house they sings a jesting song and crack jocks with the family. In this way they guard the village for the entire night singing guarding songs, some of the songs are to be sung at the particular hour of the night and early hour of the day.

See a Photo Gallery here

To be continued ....


* Dr. Heera Marangmei wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at heera4016(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on January 10, 2013



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