TODAY -

Chakaan Gaan-Ngai : Cultural Festival of Zelianglong people

Aphul Kamson *

Gaan-Ngai celebration at Ragailong , Imphal :: 17th January 2014
Gaan-Ngai celebration at Ragailong , Imphal on 17th January 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



Chakaan Gaan-Ngai is a nucleus of social, religious, customary and cultural festival of Zelianglong people who are nestled in the state of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland. The biggest and once in a year celebrated festival is meaningful and inseperable part of Zeliangrong people who have different faiths and beliefs. The significance and philosophy behind the celebration of Gaan-Ngai is important and its knowledge gives more aromas in the festival.

The literal meaning of Gaan-Ngai is a festival of winter season; (chakaan means name of winter season; Gaan means winter or dry season and Ngai means festival). It is also called a new year festival with a production of new fire (Maithan Lamei) by friction of maigang and mairu (either friction of wood and bamboo or extraction of fire by friction of the flint) called “MAIRAPMEI”.

Therefore,with the production of new fire, it is described as new year festival. Gaan-Ngai is also called the farewell festival of living and dead. According to tradition and belief,those who died after the festival of Gaan Ngai or before the beginning of Gaan Ngai, the departed soul is belief to be living with us till the end of festival.

In order to give honour and bid farewell to the departed soul,every share of community feast either from Boys dormitory (Khangchu) or Girls dormitory (Luchu) is given as a gesture of respect. The farewell dance (THEIKADIMAI) is performed if the family of the deceased so desire but it is not compulsory nowadays. When the day Gaan Ngai festival comes to an end, the departed soul is separated from the mundane world for heavenly abode or to the land of dead (TAROILAM) according to the deeds of the deceased person.

Categorically, Gaan Ngai is thus,a biggest farewell festival of living and dead in a dry season after a harvesting. The finest part of Gaan Ngai festival is to maintained discipline,hierarchical system which is not inferior to the military disciplinary system.

Major component parts of Gaan Ngai festival are:
o Worship- Oblation of holy wine, Hohoingand Ralenloumei.
o Extraction of new Fire- Maithanlamei/Mairapmei.
o Pledge -Zeigantumei.
o Ritual- Tamchanmeiand khupot.
o Census- Ganlengtimei.
o Enrolment- Janphoptimei. o Promotion-Ganchang to Banza, Khangbonto Ganchang (member of Village authority) and Shingkhangloipi to Ganpi, etc.
o Songs and Dances- Phakgwang lam, Khangbon-kadimei, Thei Kadimei, Lamleng and Pajeimei etc.

The people of Zeliangrong are so docile, discipline and obedient that they are easily mixed-up with any people because of training imparted in the male and girl dormitory system which is also called character building institution. Thus, Gaan Ngai is part and parcel and can be called greatest of the greatest’s festival of Zeliangrong.

Gaan Ngai festival is incomplete when rites, rituals and practices are not performed in a systematic order. In 1947, Gaan Ngai festival was fixed on 13th of Manipuri month of wakching based on lunar year by a resolution of kabuinaga Association. From that day onwards, the state of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland have been celebrating simultaneously on the same day and Government of Manipur during the tenure of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri W Nipamacha Singh declared as general holiday on 10th Jan 1998 and included in the tourism festival of India.


* Aphul Kamson wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The Writer can be reached at aphulkamson12345(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on Janaury 23, 2016.


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