Chakaan Gaan-Ngai : The living and biggest ritual festival
- Part 4 -
Chaoba Kamson *
Gaan-Ngai - A ritual festival of Zeliangrongs at Moirangkhom Kabui on January 06 2015 :: Pix - Daniel Chabungbam
Why was worship of all gods performed during the festival?
It was a common feature of quarrelling and killing between gods and men when Tingpurengsonnang was the patriarch of the common dormitory. Accordingly, Tingpurengsonnang made a judgement and allowed them to live separately. Gods repeatedly made request to Tingpurengsonnang to allow them to participate and enjoy the celebration of Gaan-Ngai with men.
At last, Tingpurengsonnang agreed on one condition that they should give good blessings to men on the last day of the festival. Gods also agreed with what Tingpurensonnang said. So, men blow horn of cow or mithun or buffalo inviting all the gods to participate in the Gaan-Ngai festival. Because of this reason, TRC people perform a ritual of Raren Loumei at northern village gate on the last day of the festival.
All the banjas will bring Rangpat Tamcha in the form of eatable, salt cake, material etc., which are equally distributed to them but Gaanchangs are not entitled to enjoy it.
Both the dormitories of Khangchu and Luchu will hand over puan meaning money as a scapegoat (pumlin) of boys and girls to the members of village authority.
A hanging pipe made of bamboo which was earlier distributed at every household to store the diseases of epidemic inside the pipe will be collected after pouring wine into the pipe and cover its mouth with cotton. This pipe will be thrown away beyond the village gate by the village elders.
Maru Zou (Longevity wine)
A Banja will declare to all the villagers to come and collect the Maru-zou. It is believed if drunken, it is good for health and will have longevity of life.
Filling up the Vacant post
If there is any vacancy in a village authority (Peikai) before the Gaan-Ngai festival, the said vacant post is filled up on this day of Rangpatmei by a suitable senior most person. It is formally declared by a Banja with an iron-hoe in the name of Tingkao Ragwang. Besides, any promotion from Khangbon to Gaanchang, Gaanchang to Banja, Banja to Khunbu or Khullak etc. from married woman to old woman is decided on this particular day. Prior invitation (Kaphaan Timei) is given to the proposed invitee (s) with a local salt-cake for the next year.
Bukaomei (Calling of Soul)
After the performance of Raren Loumei, the village elders will return to the village peikai where another ritual ceremony known as Bukaomei will be performed. A big cock will be sacrificed after chanting the hymns invoking Tingkao Ragwang to allow returning the soul (which temporarily escapes from the body because of startling news or action caused by incident) to its original place (human body). The cooked chicken will be eaten by the elders and pieces of the victim will also be distributed to every household.
The important works done during the Gaan-Ngai festival are as follows:
1 – Religious Activities
(a) Worship of Tingkao Ragwang to protect men from death or danger and to provide longevity of life, welfare and prosperity for the coming year.
(b) Worship of all gods of Zeliangrong pantheon on the last day of the festival.
(c) Performance of calling of paddy of goddess to restore the consumed and wasted rice during the festival.
(d) Worship of presiding deities in the early morning of the first day beseeching them not to cause any kind of disturbances during the festival.
(e) Farewell ritual to the departed souls who leave the house and go to the land of the dead (Taroiram) after the Gaan-Ngai festival.
(f) Calling of soul (Bukaomei) is performed at the peikai on the last day of the festival to restore the soul to the human body which goes of the human body because of startling news or actions.
2 – Cultural Activities
(i) Folk songs competition is carried out at the girls' dormitory.
(ii) Beating of traditional drum in different types, playing of harp is performed during the festival.
(iii) Performance of cultural dance, waving of sash, farewell dance in honour to the heads of males' dormitory is done.
(iv) Singing of village guarding songs throughout the night not to happen any unwanted incidents in the village is conducted.
3 – Customary Activities
(i) Admission of new members (boys and girls) to respective dormitories is done.
(ii) Promotion from minor to major (boys and girls) by giving a piece of pork piercing with a string is carried out.
(iii) Promotion from Khangbon to Gaanchang, Gaanchang to Banja, the vacant posts of khunbu, khullak, etc filled up.
(iv) Newly wedded women are formally admitted to women institution.
(v) Pig thighs are given to those members belongning to both dormitories who died before the festival and to any girl who is going to be married formally after the festival.
(vi) Those deceased families also offer last gifts to the dormitories in the name of the deceased.
4 – Games and Sports
Games and sports are carried out such as shot-put, long-jump, javelin throw, wrestling etc. on the jumping ground on the opening day of the festival.
Maintenance of discipline
Maintenance of discipline is strictly enforced by the village Ganpis to boys for having peace and understanding during the festival.
Unity and Love
In the morning of the first day, a pig is offered to Tingkao Ragwang and the pork curry mixed with blood with internal organs of the pig (Zeigan) is eaten by the members of khangchu. This is for preservation of unity, love and brotherhood of the community. It is a kind of oath-taking ceremony. Any kind of activities such as singing of song, dancing, chanting of huai, shouldering any burden, sharing of sorrow or joy, all kinds of work of the people, enjoy, eat and drink together. With this theme, Zeigan Tumei is carried out.
Lastly, I on behalf of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland extend my hearty greeting to all the Zeliangrong people to celebrate the Gaan-Ngai festival (which begins from 22nd January, 2016) with full enthusiasm and joy and also wish all a happy and prosperous life with the event of New Year, 2016.
* Chaoba Kamson wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is General Secretary, Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
This article was posted on February 03, 2016.
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