Chakaan Gaan-ngai: The Living Religious And Cultural Festival
By Chaoba Kamson
The Zeliangrong, an indigenous ethnic group of North East belongs to Tibeto- Burman family of Mongoloid stock. The population of this group is found mainly in Tamenglong District of Manipur. They are also found scattered in Manipur Valley of Imphal West District, Imphal East District, Thoubal District, Bishnupur District, Churachandpur District, Senapati District. Outside the state of Manipur, they are found settling in Nagaland in its Peren District, Dimapur District and Kohima District and in Assam in its Haflong District, Cachar District and Heilakandi District. The present article attempts to examine the Gaan-Ngai festival of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak people of North East.
The Zeliangrong people are rational and they do not easily give up their religion and culture because of profound values and spiritualism in their traditional belief as a result of this there are about thirty thousand devotees of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak in the three states [2011 census]. They celebrate eight to ten festivals in a year according to agricultural operation. Among the festivals, Gaan-Ngai is the greatest living festival of Zeliangrongs. It is a religious and cultural festival signifying a distinct identity of Zeliangrong people. The whole culture, religion and social life are interwoven in the performance of Gaan-Ngai. Gaan-Ngai is the backbone of Zeliangrong culture. Culture is a vehicle of religion. So, Gaan-Ngai is a unique cultural festival associated with religion and its philosophy.
Man inherited Gaan-Ngai from Tingpurengsonnang:
According to myth, Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God created a god named Tingpurengsonnang who was made the patriarch and his wife by the name Ragonlu the matriarch of a common dormitory of gods, men, animals and all creatures. They spoke a common language. The duty of Tingpurengsonnang was to teach man how to speak and sing song, how to behave a way of life etc. He also taught them the knowledge of cultivation, culture, mode of worship etc. In course of time, with the development of wisdom and intellect, man started collecting and storing of food grains. Then, man began to celebrate Gaan-Ngai festival merrily with the objective of praising to Tingkao Ragwang for good harvest, oblation of holy wine to Him, performance of religious, cultural and customary activities thus bringing peace and unity among men. As instructed by Tingpurengsonnang, man offered foods and drinks to Tingkao Ragwang invoking Him for longevity of life and prosperity for coming year. They also offered foods, drinks, eatables etc. on the grave as a tribute to the departed soul.
Gaan-Ngai festival Cheers people:
When spring season comes all young trees and plants sprout plentifully, when rainy season comes vegetables grow luxuriantly and flowers bloom abundantly like them, Zeliangrong people also feel happy when much awaited Gaan-Ngai festival approaches. People’s mind and their faces look cheerful.
Meaning of Chakan Gaan-Ngai:
Chakan Gaan-Ngai literally means the festival of winter season; [Chakan means season, Gaan means winter and Ngai festival]. This festival is also described as a New Year as it marks the end of the year and beginning of the New Year in Gregorian calendar. In fact, all the festivals of Zeliangrong are based on agricultural operations: pre-operations and post harvest. Therefore, Gaan-Ngai is also described as a post harvest festival as the farmers store enough food grains in their granaries. They are free from any kind of agricultural works and their mind turns towards festivity.
Gaan –Ngai is the Festival of the living and the dead:
Those who died in the previous year are given ritual farewell during the festival. Graves are beautified and decorated in order to offer the rich tributes. Farewell dances are also presented in honour to the departed souls. Feast is served to the community in his /her name. It is believed that those souls are with the living people till the festival is over. The deceased family offers foods and drinks on the graves both morning and evening before the living people eat or drink. In case the living people eat or drink first, then the soul does not eat nor drink. On the first day of festival [Ngaigangpuinei] male dormitory will give a big pig thigh as a farewell gift to the family. In return the family concerned also presents last gift in the form of steel or wooden almirah or generator etc. in his/her name to the dormitory for lasting memory of the deceased. This is the reason; Gaan-Ngai festival is regarded as for the living and the dead.
Time of celebration:
When farmers store enough food grains in the granaries, they are free from agricultural works, their attention is drawn to festive mood, the sky also looks clear and high, hornbill flies out from its nest, winter season sets in and cold winter wind blows, the spirits of the dead ancestor wait for the coming of Gaan-Ngai, the festival starts celebrating on the 13th day of the Manipur lunar month of Wakching which falls in December/January every year. The festival lasts for five to seven days depending on local variation. This festival is mainly celebrated by the devotees of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak [TRC] and Heraka living in the states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
Why is the festival celebrated?
Tingkao Ragwang created man to do some remarkable works in this world. However, he should not always confine to his work only. He should also work hard and at the same time, he needs rest after hard working. He performs rites, cultural activities as thanksgiving to Tingkao Ragwang for rich harvest. People worship and pray to Him for wellbeing in the days to come. Gaan-Ngai is the expression of rejoicing of the community with prayer to Tingkao Ragwang for plenty and welfare.
Zeliangrong people want to take part the celebration of Gaan-Ngai festival for one hundred times however it depends on the mercy of Tingkao Ragwang. Once man died he never revives except rebirth. Flowers once bloomed will one day bloom again in course of time. Though Gaan-Ngai festival once celebrated will recycle endlessly. Man also wants to be immortal like Gaan-Ngai festival.
The purpose of celebration of Gaan-Ngai is to sustain singing of folk songs, to beat drum and dance, to nurture cultural activities, to worship Tingkao Ragwang and other lower realm gods, to shout Hoi, to execute customary duties such as filling up the vacant post of village authority etc. to maintain peace, discipline and to pay rich tributes to those who died in the preceding year.
Gaan-Ngai makes people busy:
Gaan-Ngai festival makes everybody busy. Girls weave in haste for the festival while boys prepare headgear [Pikam] and make and repair traditional drums. Boys and girls are in practice of dance and learn folk songs for singing competition at girls’ dormitory. Boys are busy beautifying the village whereas girls also engage in their house decoration. Boys and girls pound wet rice for making rice-beer. Village elders and married women are also busy in preparation for the festival. Those who are in service and students studying outside the state return home for participation and enjoyment of the festival. So, everybody loves Gaan-Ngai and calls its name Chaakan Gaan-Ngai when Chaakan season comes. How is the Gaan-Ngai so powerful?
Heralding of Gaan-Ngai:
On the first day of Wakching month, a village old man will announce the coming of the festival as well as to make necessary arrangement for the same. The male dormitory will blow horn of cow or mithun inviting all gods for participation of the coming Gaan-Ngai festival. This is locally called Gaan-Shaanmei, heralding of Gaan-Ngai. Boys will dig Daanshaanpung, jumping ground on this day.
On the eve of Gaan-Ngai:
First, a village old man declares to the villagers to collect banana leaf and prepare other eatables for the festival. Early in the morning, at male and girls’ dormitories, an act of checking of firewood called Thingtinmei is carried out. Each and every member of male and girls’ dormitories will bring a Mailam, wisp [a faggot of firewood] which will be used during the festival. Thereafter, a Hoi procession [holding a stick of firewood each in their hands] starting from northern gate of the village will march on reaching the male and girls’ dormitories some firewood will be given for the dormitories in return the dormitories will bring out Tam [Chutney of vegetables] and an earthen jar of rice-beer [Zoulai]. It is followed by oblation of holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang. A little quantity of Tam and a glass of rice-beer [Zoungao/Joudui] will be given to the dormitories as a courtesy. Towards evening, boys will collect a ginger and an egg from every household of the village for ritual offering to northern and southern presiding deities.
The objective of Thing-Ngun Kadimei is to teach young boys to obey what the elders say, keep discipline among themselves and to execute the works assigned to them. Anyone who disobeys the orders of the elders will be punished by beating a whip as per custom. If the young boys make a request to senior youth [Gaanpi] by producing a bottle of wine as fine not to beat them with an assurance that they will certainly accomplish the works. If their assurance is quite satisfied then they may be exempted from this punishment. This wine is known as Jamlui Zou. The girl dormitory also will follow the same rule during the festival.
The First Day/Beginning of the Festival:
The first day of the festival is called Ngaigangmei. A small hour in the morning, a ritual will be performed at the abode of northern and southern village deities by an old man offering an egg and a piece of ginger invoking them not to happen any kind of untoward incidents during the festival. The old man after returning to male dormitory will offer holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang and lower realm gods. Thereafter, boys will beat drum which means starting of Gaan-Ngai festival.
Hymns of Gucheng Phaimei:
“Oh! Kaipi Bambu, northern presiding deity, I [priest] on behalf of the village offer to you a golden ginger and a good egg not to cause any disturbances, injuries etc. in the village during the festival. Please prevent and protect us from evils”.
Production of fresh fire:
According to myth, sacred fire was first produced at Zoulumei ceremonial function of Amhang, a culture hero. In continuation of this practice, the new fire is produced by the wood and bamboos friction on the first day of the festival at the village jumping ground or several teams of youth visit the individual families to produce the new fire. This ritual is called Mailapmei. The villagers are informed by an elder to collect the new fire for cooking purposes. Accordingly, the villagers will come and collect the same. It is believed that man eats the foods cooked with the new fire there will be a long life and prosperity of the coming year. It also indicates that man will be strong as fire.
Sacrifice to Tingkao Ragwang:
A big pig will be sacrificed as offering to Tingkao Ragwang. After the sacrifice of the pig, the spleen of the victim will be observed to find out the future omen. The pig spleen will be given either to the first examiner or the oldest man of the village followed by offering of holy wine locally called Gakpai Zou to Tingkao Ragwang and other lower realm gods. Then, the grand Gaan-Ngai feast is prepared at male and girls’ dormitories. After having cooked, yelling Ho-Hoing locally known as Naplao-hoi will be performed for dinner and followed by oblation of holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang. All the members of male dormitory will first taste the curry of Zeigan [curry of pig’s internal organs cooked with blood] which is very important. Zeigan Tumei is equivalent to oath taking.
Shouting of Hoi:
Shouting Hoi is a form of worship to Tingkao Ragwang. The purpose of Hoi procession in the festival is to dispel evil spirits from the village. Cry Ho-Hoing is performed during the festival and in the special worship of Tingkao Ragwang such as Tarang Kai Sumei, construction of ornamented ritual house, Maku Bambu, performance of Feast of Merit, Bamjou Jangmei, promotional ritual, Ragaidai, ritual for welfare of mankind etc.
Source of Shot-put and Long Jump:
Tingkao Ragwang created Didimpu, a male god to look after the affairs of the world. One day, Didimpu called his seven nephews [sons of Charashinglangpui and Charashinglangpui is the younger sister of Didimpu] and told them that a trial would be held by way of physical competition [shot-put, long jump, wrestling, throwing of pounding pestle] to find out who was the strongest among the seven brothers. Further, he said that the strongest man would succeed his position. So, he advised them to come again at his place on the eighth day counting from that day and a competition of shot-put would be held on that day.
Seven days gone, on the eighth day, they came again as told by Didimpu. Charashinglangpui who loved very much her youngest son, Ragwang gave a Langdoi, thread- ball to him instead of heavy stone ball by her deceit. But she handed over heavy stones to her six sons. So, Ragwang won the competition.
After the shot put competition was over, Didimpu told them to come again on the eighth day to compete in wrestling and they went away. Accordingly they came again on the eighth day. The wrestling started. Charashinglangpui put a walking stick between her elder sons’ legs so they fell down. Ragwang won in the competition.
Javelin Throw competition:
On the eighth day, the seven brothers came for Javelin throw competition. For the competition, Charashinglangpui gave iron javelins to her elder sons but she gave a snake to Ragwang. So, Ragwang won the competition.
Throwing of pounding pestle competition (Mishum Phenkhemnamei):
In this competition also, the same mother handed over a heavy pounding pestle made of iron to all her sons except Ragwang. Ragwang was given a light pounding pestle made of wood so he won the game.
Out of this divine story, men used to imitate the games activities of divine. So, the games activities performed on the occasion of Gaan-Ngai are adopted from the divine seven brothers of Ragwang.
Objective of shot-put and long-jump:
“Ragwang Kaitho Keirui (Shamrui) Bambaokamei Napthu Gaimeitai Gang-Ngo.” Meaning of the hymns: please come on, come on, good paddy, the paddy emerges out of the heavenly broken granary.
(a) The objective of shot-put competition on the first day of Gaan-Ngai is supposed to break the heavenly granary’s door. The said granary is full of paddy. If the granary’s door is broken, the paddy will leak out and spread everywhere. If the said paddy is used as paddy seed for sowing then a plenty of paddy will be harvested.
(b) The aim of long-jump is to make the swelling earth kicked up by the landing force of long-jump which is believed to be a sign of distribution of paddy to mankind.
So the objective of shot-put and long-jump is for successful cultivation and good harvest.
Hymns of Shot-put:
“We have dispelled evil spirits from the village by shouting of Hoi and arrived now at jumping ground. We are about to carry out the act of shot-put. When we throw stone, Au Haipou Tingkao Ragwang, let us throw stone like Longdoi, thread ball”.
Hymns of long-jump:
“Today is the day of festival of our village, when the act of long-jump begins, Au Apou Tingkao Ragwang, let us jump like Kah, grasshopper”.
A group of village elders divided into two to three groups, they separately will pay a visit at every household greeting the members of each family to enjoy joyously and warn them not to quarrel nor speak ill words against each other during the festival. If there is any kind of quarrel or fighting, the village authority will take a stern action against the offenders. This message is called Shaopaak Thetmei in local dialect. Then boys and girls will spend dining together, indulge in merry-making, drinking, eating, dancing, cutting joke and arrange a programme of Pazeimei in the village.
The 2nd Day –The great festival [Tamchan-Ngai]:
All the members of both male and girls’ dormitories will bring their respective Tamchas; [Tamcha means gift/subscription in the form of meat, vegetable, etc. to their respective dormitories]. The deceased family also brings last presentation called Thei-Tamcha to the respective dormitories in the name of the person(s) who died in the previous year. Some quantity of Tamcha will be given to the owners of male and girls’ dormitories as a respect and custom. A Banja who acts as priest will perform chanting of Tamsuan [chutney] for two senior most Gaanpis and Zousuan [wine] for two Tunapis [two heads of girls’ dormitory]. After the lunch, the members of male dormitory will collect Tamsuan and Zousuan in the form of money shouting Rilai Hoi from the four persons mentioned above. This is known as Tamchan-Ngai.
In the evening, only girls will perform a dance in (i) the house of Pei [the village Authority], (ii) Kengjapui Kaibang [the house of old women], (iii) Gaanchang Kaibang [the house of village elders], and (iv) Napmu Kaibang [the ritual house of paddy]. This dance is known as Tamchan Laam; [Tam means chutney of vegetables, Chan means request and Laam dance].
Objective of Tamchanmei:
The objective of Tamchanmei is to go and offer prayer at the above mentioned four traditional institutions not to cause any kind of illness, diseases of hardship to be inflicted to boys and girls for coming year. The Zeliangrong people treat the four social institutions as holy places.
Hymns of Tamchan:
“Au Apou Tingkao Ragwang today we are celebrating the Gaan-Ngai festival with a happy mood and offer dried fish, holy wine, salt-cake, Puan (coins) to you. We present to the above four institutions in honour of as holy places. So we pray to you to give a lasting and prosperous institution in future”.
The 3rd Day-Tuna Gaan-Ngai:
The 3rd day is called Tuna Gaan-Ngai [Festival of the youth]. In the morning, two Khangbons [Heads of male dormitory] and two Tunapi [Heads of girls’ dormitory] will bring Tamcha to their respective dormitories. A priest will recite Tamsuan and Zousuan hymns.
After lunch, the male dormitory will shout Rilai Hoi holding a stick of fire wood in their hands and proceed to both houses of Khangbons and Tunapis and chant Tamsuam, Zousuan praising them for abundant gifts and wine. The male dormitory invokes to Tingkao Ragwang to give longevity of life and strength to both Khangbons and Tunapis.
In the evening, boys and girls perform Khangbon Kadimei Laam, a farewell dance in honour of both Khangbons who have been promoted to a higher post called Gaanchang.
The 4th Day- Longkumei [Hill Trekking]:
Longruimei or Longkumei means hill trekking. Boys and girls climb a nearby hill for sight seeing. In olden days, they select kings and queens and adorn their heads by Phaak leaves as crowns. They show their talents in singing song, drum beating, Rajaimei [playing of penna/string] etc. After performing these activities Gakting Tam [pork chutney], wine, boiled vegetables etc. are offered to all present there. They return to the village and perform a dance in honour of the boys and girls who have been chosen as kings and queens. This dance is known as Phaakgang Laam. The families of the Kings and Queens will offer Laam Baan in the form of money, drink, chutney and other eatables.
The 5th Day- Napchanmei:
The whole day is busy for preparation of cooking. In the evening, a ritual ceremony of calling of paddy [Napkaomei] with a big cock invoking to goddess of food grains in charge [Majapui] for good harvest and prosperity for the coming year is observed at both dormitories namely Khangchu and Luchu. The cooked liver of fowl, rice, and crushed ginger will be offered to the goddess, Kambuipui, Charaipui and Kairao [ancestors] who live in the form of hearth stones in the house. This ceremony is called Napchanmei. The objective of calling of paddy is to restore the wasted rice at the time of preparation of cooking, eating etc. during the festival.
Napsin Gansin Raomei:
Napsin Gansin Raomei means criticism made to the leaders of male dormitory particularly to its senior most Ganpis for not being served delicious dishes during the festival. This programme is carried out at the courtyard of male dormitory after the grand feast. Their unsatisfied voices are expressed through songs. These songs are known as Napchan Luh. They also sing songs criticizing the matriarch of the male dormitory for her activities. These songs are meant to ensure welfare and prosperity in coming year. Then the present members will move inside the dormitory singing song, wishing prosperity and welfare for the coming year.
All the members of male dormitory will again proceed to the girls’ dormitory for singing of song competition with the girls. On reaching at girls’ dormitory, a village elder offers holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang praying not to cause any unwanted incidents during the course of singing of song competition. First, a boy will sing and followed by a girl in rotation. The competition will continue till late night. If the act of singing competition is over, boys return to male dormitory shouting Rilai Hoi.
The 6th Day-Rangpatmei (Worship of all gods of Zeliangrong):
It is believed that all the gods of Zeliangrong pantheon also participate in the celebration of Gaan-Ngai. So Raren Loumei, the performance of the sacrifices to seven brother gods and the deities worshipped in a particular village is observed on the last day of the festival at the abode of northern village deity. It is carried out by a priest and its objective is to ward off any diseases, hardship, illness, death etc. Evil spirits are not worshipped but they are propitiated not to give trouble to men. This ritual is known as Raren Loumei. During the performance of the ritual, both the northern and southern village gates are closed and nobody is allowed to cross the gates. Violation of this restriction means evil consequences even death may happen. This is the reason behind any person is not allowed to go beyond the village gates. Another reason of closure of the village gates is to stop the evil spirits from entering the village. For this ritual, every household will give a fowl, a piece of ginger and a bundle of banana leaves to the village authority. The village old men and old women will eat the cooked chickens and some quantity of chickens will be distributed to minor children. It is also a ritual of send-off all the gods [Rata Ginsonmei] up to village northern gate.
It was a common feature of quarreling and killing between gods and men when Tingpurengsonnang was the patriarch of the common dormitory. Accordingly, Tingpurengsonnang made a judgment 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 [wellbeing and prosperity] to men on the last day of the festival. Gods also agreed with what Tingpurengsonnang said. So man blows horn of cow or mithun inviting all the gods to participate in the Gaan-Ngai festival. Because of this reason, TRC people perform Raren-Loumei at northern village gate on the last day of the festival.
The seven brother gods and unhatched god are given below:
Name Power and functions
1. Ragwang The King of the Gods of the earth [Lower Realm] also known as Na-Ragwang/ Anbaan Ragwang
2. Bisnu [Manchanu/
Buichanu/Bonchanu] The most powerful god on earth who looks after the affairs of men, nature and animals and communicates with men through the medium of priest
[Laorangmei] The god in charge of food grains
4. Chonchai Adverse to wine, he looks after the health of men
5. Charakilongmei The god who keeps peace and ward off disturbance on earth
6. Koklou The Peipou, the owner of the office of gods’ court
7. Karangong The god who is a teaser of unruly and misbehaved persons particularly youth. Healer of man suffering from dizziness
8. Dimei The deity who could not hatch and remains under the earth
The abodes of the divine brothers are as follows:
(i) Ragwang [Anbaan Ragwang/Na-Ragwang] took residence at Mt. Koubru
(ii) Bisnu’s abode is at holy cave, Bhuvan Hills
(iii) Napsinmei’s abode is at the peak of Napsinmei Hill, Ganglon Namthan in the old Cachar Road
(iv) Chonchai resides at the Mt. Kasokbut, Taosang Khullen village in Tamenglong District
(v) Charakilongmei lives at a mountain peak of Bena village [Thonglang] at the Western spur of Koubru mountain
(vi) Koklou resides at the peak over the Pongringlong village in the Koubru mountain
(vii) Dimei remains under the earth
Banjas will bring Rangpat Tamcha in the form of eatable, slat-cake, material etc. which are equally distributed to all Banjas but Gaanchangs are not entitled to enjoy it.
Both the dormitories Khangchu and Luchu will hand over Puan meaning money as a scapegoat [Pumlin] of boys and girls to the members of village authority.
The 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 vacant post in a village authority [Peikai] before the Gaan-Ngai festival, the said vacant post is filled up on this day of Raangpatmei by a suitable senior most person. It is formally declared by a Banja with an iron-hoe in his hand 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 Ralen Loumei, the village elders will return to the village Pei 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 accident] to its original place, human body. The cooked chicken will be eaten by the elders and pieces of the meat will also be distributed to every household.
The important works done during the Gaan –Ngai festival are as follows:
1- Religious Activities:
(a) Worship to Tingkao Ragwang to protect men from death or danger and to provide longevity of life, welfare and prosperity for the coming years.
(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 to presiding deities in the early morning of the first day invoking 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.
2- Cultural Activities
(a) Singing of folk songs competition between boys and girls at girls’ dormitory
(b) Beating of traditional drum in different types, playing of Rah-Jaimei
(c) Performance of cultural dance, Pazeimei, farewell dance in honour to the heads of male dormitory
(d) Youth sing village guarding songs throughout the night guarding against any unwanted incidents in the village [Kailong Lonmei]
3- Customary Activities:
(a) Admission of new members [boys and girls] to respective dormitories
(b) Promotion from minor to major [boys and girls] by giving a piece of pork, piercing with a string
(c) Promotion from Khangbon to Gaanchang, Gaanchang to Banja, filling up of vacant post of Khunbu, Khunlak etc.
(d) Newly wedded women are formally admitted to women institution
(e) Pig thighs are given away to those members belonging to both dormitories who died before the festival
(f) Those deceased families also offer last gifts to the dormitories in the name of the deceased.
4- Games and Sports Activities:
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.
5- Maintenance of Discipline:
(a) Teaching of discipline is strictly enforced by the village Ganpis to boys and girls to maintain peace and understanding during the festival.
(b) An act of issuance of whip [Thing-ngun Kadimei] is performed at male dormitory. The objective of issuance of whip is to teach boys to obey what the elders say, to carry out the works assigned to them. As a customary practice, an arrangement is made to beat the boys nominally exhorting to pay much attention to works. The young boys request to the elders producing a bottle of wine not to beat them. If the request is accepted, they may be exempted from beating. The girls’ dormitory also follows the same rule. In case the boys are to be beaten, a youngest Gaanpi will handle the whip whereas at the girls’ dormitory, Tunapi [one of the heads of girls] will handle the twisted cloth and beat all the girls.
6- Unity and Love:
In the morning, of the first day, a pig is offered to Tingkao Ragwang and the pork curry mixed with blood called Jeigan 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 Hoi, shouldering any burden, sharing of sorrow or joy, all kinds of work of the people, enjoy, eat and drink together. In this theme, Zeigan Tumei is performed.
Therefore, Gaan-Ngai festival brings unity, love, peace and brotherhood with each other.
Lastly, I on behalf of the Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur and Ngaland greet the people of Zeliangrong to enjoy the Gaan-Ngai festival joyously and heartily. Further, I wish all a happy and prosperous life with the coming of New Year, 2012.
Chaoba Kamson, General Secretary, Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland
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