Kohima, Sept. 4: The weeklong harvest festival of Mongmong was celebrated by the Sangtams of Nagaland for the second day today.
Mongmong means “togetherness forever”. The village priest (beburu) announces Zangnyuo Mongmong Nung Eh-Lehe or the beginning of the festival with prayers and rites at midnight when the crops are ready for harvesting. The next morning, another priest repeats the proclamation. Then the villagers begin preparations by arranging for food, firewood and special local rice beer.
On the first day, the oldest man of the village goes to the well to perform rituals and clean the well. All transactions relating to purchase of domestic animals like pigs, cows, mithuns are closed on this day. The villagers collect vegetables, millets, and firewood from the old fields. On the second day, Singkithsa, firewood is collected and stored. The third day, Musuuangdup, is devoted to the worship of cooking. The older women of the household place ball-shaped gum rice on top of three stones, which they hold to represent god or Lijaba, and pour a little wine on it.
On the fourth day, called Kikhalangbi, weeds and the paths leading to the fields and inter-village roads are cleared.
No one in the house is allowed to taste food till the rituals are completed. Even animals are not fed. The rituals usually takes a short time but great care is taken that domestic animals do not eat the food during the rituals as it is seen as misfortune or wrath of the evil.
The fifth day is called Shilang Wuba Nyumong. On this day villagers visit their relatives and friends and share meat, drink and exchange gifts.
On the last day of the festival, which is known as Akatisingkithsa, harvesting begins.
The Sangtams, mostly inhabit Kiphire and Tuensang districts, believe that if their god is pleased, they will be blessed with rich harvest and good health.
During the festivities, the Sangtams perform sacrifices that require eggs, chickens, pigs, dogs, bulls and mithuns to please god. Sangtam organisations hold special programmes and invite non-Sangtam communities as well.
Chief minister Neiphiu Rio greeted the people of Sangtam community.