| A participant during the festival at Jaluki in Nagaland on Thursday. (AFP) |
Kohima, Nov. 1: The Zeliangrong community in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam today celebrated its principal festival, Chaga Gadi. The festival is not only associated with eating, drinking local brew and merrymaking but also revolves around agriculture.
The festival is celebrated to invoke the Almighty’s blessings, with pageantry of colours and feats of cultural showcase in all the villages, towns and cities where Zeliangrongs reside.
Several programmes were held across Nagaland on the occasion, but the main programme was organised at Jalukie town in Peren district where minister for forest and environment M.C. Konyak was the chief guest.
He urged people to remain united to usher in peace and development in the state. He also lauded the unity of the Zeliangrong community across the three states. Various cultural programmes, including Miss Peren contest, were held.
The festival also coincided with the Nagaland government-sponsored Youth Expo where youths from different fields showcased their talents. In Kohima, cultural programmes and a community feast were the main highlights of the celebration. The state government has already declared the state as the “Land of Festivals” to promote tourism.
Chaga Gadi is primarily a post-harvest festival.
It is believed that the celebration would bring bumper harvest, less war and fewer deaths in the villages. The villagers also pray for protection from enemies. Another element of the festival is reconciliation, peace and harmony, and these occupy the centre stage during the celebration.
Earlier, the festival was observed for 4-5 days when people waited anxiously at midnight to see the first new moon, which was believed to be a boon and blessing of God.
After the appearance of the moon, the priest of the village (Sungkupiu) made an announcement and the people took necessary preparations for celebration. After all the preparations were over, the priest made another announcement as a prelude to the festival.
On the last day of the festival, all the men gathered on the main ground of the village, also called the jumping pit, and various competitions like long jump, wrestling, cock fight, were held. Later, the high priest lifted all prohibitions.
The villagers were then free from all bindings and they started feasting and merrymaking to mark the end of the festival.