Thursday, 16 August 2012

Mongmong Festival in Nagaland.

Come September, the extreme eastern state of India – Nagaland would be the perfect place to visit as these agrarian mountain-folk whose lives revolve and depend on agriculture, celebrate the harvest festival – ‘Mongmong’ which in the local ‘Sangtam’ dialect means ‘togetherness forever’. Mongmong is celebrated week-long during the first week of September.

Mongmong Festival celebrates harvest and friendship that has kept these mountain tribes of Nagaland together always. The festival starts off with the village priest (beburu) announcing ‘Zangnyuo Mongmong Nung Eh-Lehe’ or the commencement of the festival with prayers and rituals at midnight.
·        On the first day – which is called ‘Singkithsa’, the oldest person of the area is asked to perform the festival rituals at the well. The villagers spend the day collecting millets, vegetables and firewood from the fields. Livestock (cows, pigs and mithuns) transactions are closed on this day.
·        On the second day, as the gathering of the firewood and the vegetables continues, meat for the festive delicacies is arranged.
·        On the third day which is called ‘MÜSÜYANGTAP’, people worship their three oven stones in belief that these stones represent God (Lijaba). Families eat food only after this worship is done. Local rice beer dancing, tug of war and other merry-making activities take over next.
·        On the fourth day which is called ‘KIKHA-LANGPI’, the Priest and the men-folk spruce up the village by clearing the weeds; clearing the roads and pathways leading to wells and fields and then head to the Priest’s home where a party awaits for all the men who toiled all day in trying to make the village look neat and nice.
·        On the fifth day which is called ‘SHILANG WUBA NYUMONG’, people visit their families and friends in the same village and in the neighbouring villages and exchange drinks and meat as gifts – pretty much like the Muslim custom of ‘Bakrid’.
·        From the sixth day onwards which is called ‘SHILANG WUBA NYUMONG’ the actual harvesting process begins in the fields. People invoke the blessings of God on their crops and their families and pray for a good harvest and good health.

Among a host of others, Nagaland folk songs, Millet harvesting shows, Paddy sowing shows, fire making, tug of war, war dances and archery competitions are showcased during the festivities. Thousands of people from Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh converge for the festival during these days.

It is a mélange of colourful cultural displays of 15 different tribes under one roof. Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger, Kuki and Zeliang being the largest Naga tribes in Nagaland, converge for this harvest festival Mongmong in Kohima – the State Capital of Nagaland.
Kohima is perched atop a ridge at 4200 feet above sea level (same as Kalimpong in WB) with 70% green cover, and is surrounded by lush green mountains and meadows covered endlessly with emerald hued wild grass and wild flowers. The scenic, serene and fresh environs, the salubrious climate and the lovely sunsets would have you anchored to this place for longer than you scheduled. Kohima is perfect for adventure sports such as mountain-treks; para-gliding; rock-climbing and camping. Mix all this with a cultural fiesta and you’ve got yourself a complete holiday package – the best that your money can buy!

The nearest airport to Kohima is in Dimapur in Nagaland at 74 kms northeast of Kohima. Regular flights from Guwahati in Assam and Imphal in Manipur connect Kohima. The nearest railhead to Kohima is in Dimapur. National Highway 39 connects Kohima to Dimapur on the north and Imphal on the south.
If you can’t make it to Kohima for Mongmong festival during the first week of September, then the next best time to visit Nagaland is during the first week of December for the Hornbill Festival.
Peace Out !

Pix courtesy: the hindu, photoblog.nbcnews, northeasttoday, demotix, govisitnagaland.


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