The Festivals of Phom Tribe

   The Phoms have four major festivals each having unique significance. They are MONYU, MOHA, BONGVUM and PAANGMO.

                                                MONYU

    Monyu, the most popular and biggest festival falls in the month of April every year soon after the sowing season. The festival is celebrated for six days beginning from 1st to 6th April every year. It also marks the end of winter and the beginning of summer or monsoon. A day or two prior to the festival the green signals of the dawn of festival is made by beating log drums with a distinct tune synchronise purposely for the event, traditionally named "LAN NYANGSHEM".

 

      The Priests or the village elders performed a ritual and predicts what the forthcoming festival would be, a blessing or a curse. In case the prediction shows a sign of dangers, the villagers are warned to be careful during the festivity. Monyu is the time to bid farewell to the on going year and heralds the dawn of the new year. It is also the time of prayers and dedication for the sprouting crops that are already sowed. The main feature of the Monyu is the occasion when the male members of the family shows love and renewal of affectionate feelings towards their married daughters or sisters by presenting them the purest of the rice beer and specially prepared food. Such conduct reflects the general status of the Phom women that "they are respected and honoured". Planning and decision relating to community welfare to be implemented throughout the years are also decided during the festival.

     The six days long festival follows a circle of ritual and activities which may be categorised day-wise as the following.

     The first day is the day for over all preparation. Besides preparing of domestic chores every household go to collect wrapping leaves and bamboo’s, which is called "SHONGTEN-LAIPHEN’.

      The second day is for compulsory brewing of all kinds of rice beer.

     The third day is meant for the varying age-group from oldest down to the youngest. They gather together and feast amidst dancing, merry making etc. Thus the day is named "AIHA OKSHOK".

     The fourth day is coined as "CHINGI OKSHOK" which practically means general festivity and also the day of arrival of guests from neighbouring villages.

     On the fifth day parties of young and old men and women wear their respective colourful costumes, keep themselves busy, eating, drinking, dancing, inviting friends, kit and kin… making each moment of the day memorable and joyous, which is called "paangmohah".

      The sixth day and the last day is another remarkable day. The elderly people feast by exchanging a jug of purest rice beer and meat etc. The younger ones both boys and girls stroll out of the outskirts of the village and feast together. The most common game played during the last day of the festival is "Swing" made out of wild rope locally called "SHAKOK VU". It is to be noted that the whole process is carried in a ritualistic manner.

MOHA

      Moha is the one day festival in the month of May to pray for the better growing of seeds/plants. The new crop plants of various kind are taken to village by the elders or the Priests of the village and put in a ritual place or an alter called "Moidu" invoking blessing by Priests called "Ngongpathu" for the better growth of the seeds.

BONGVUM

      The Bongvum festival generally falls in the month of October every year after the major harvest and is observed only for a day. This festival may be best interpreted as the festival of Thanksgiving to the unseen Almighty God for whatever have yielded during the preceding months. On this occasion not any other animals but chicken is killed and sprinkled its hot blood against the outer surface of the bamboo pail for storing grains.

      The other ritual associated with the Bongvum festival is the preparation of sticky rice. The meat is cooked with Prawns and Crabs mixed with dried bamboo shoots and ginger. This prepared food is put into the leaves carefully and tied to the main posts of the house. Both these rituals are performed as a token of giving thanks to the unseen Almighty for the blessings they are bestowed with, so that they may be blessed more in the next harvest. Also predicting the future of the family by taking out the chicken’s intestine performed by the father who is the head of the family forms another part of ritual during the festival.

PAANGMO

     The festival called Paangmo is another important events of the Phoms. It is celebrated in the month of November which stretches over three days. At this festival, the whole surroundings of the village is cleaned. Wells and homes are repaired and decorated. Every household and varying age-group brew special rice beer called YU" and kill animals. Parents present gifts commonly meat and prepared food to their daughters already married (DOIDAIBU YUKHA) who also reciprocate in the like manner with ardent "Love and Respect".

 

NATIONAL INFORMATICS CENTRE, TUENSANG DISTRICT UNIT : NAGALAND

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