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Op-Ed

The significance of Chang Naknyulum

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By EMN Updated: Jul 31, 2014 10:21 pm
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Thungti Chang, IA Tuensang

Introduction
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]aknyulum is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chang Naga tribe. It falls in the month of July (Naklit) basing on the lunar Calendar of the Naga Yore. Now it is officially celebrated from 29th to 31st July every year.
The word Naknyulum has two meaning “Naknyu” meaning mother of Darkness and “lum” meaning Festival”. The period also coincides with the first harvest season of the year.
Hence it is taken as a religious ceremony to celebrate the Triumph of the good over evil as well as a Harvest festival.Origin of the Naknyulum
According to Chang mythology and Folk lore, in ancient times the world as suddenly enveloped by the darkness which lasted for six consecutive days and night. The people were confined to their homes for the whole period of darkness.
The people were perplexed and confused by this strange phenomenon. They lost all hopes of ever seeing light again. Those people those who were on the way from their fields and those happened to e in the jungle were left stranded, while some could return with their help of traditional lantern made out of bamboos. In these dark days and night all the fire wood of their homes got exhausted and the people were compelled to burn even the skulls of animals that were kept on display. After the six day, a man ventured out of his hearth in search of firewood saw a huge six tailed tiger sitting on the roof of his neighbour’ s house obstructing the light. He quickly went inside his house and took out his bow and arrow and shot at it. The arrow found its mark and the tiger fell off from the roof top with a loud shriek.
All the people came out of their house and cut of the tails of the tiger and from that moment on was light filtered into their land.
Significance
It was originally a religious ceremony to mark their deliverance from darkness. As such, it is a celebration to mark the triumph of the good over evil. The people in order to thwart the recurrence of such darkness interceded a deity (Shambule Muhgha) for protection by performing religious rituals and offerings. This ritualistic is ceremony now observed and celebrated as festival to remind them of this great even, during the night festival every Chang house lit huge fires which can be seen from afar. As this season coincides with the millet harvest, it a cause for double celebration.
Rituals
The religious rituals and ceremonies were strictly observed by the Chang of yore. The ritual begins by planting and decorating the morung with the herb “ngounam” which gives out a sweet fragrance. This ritual is performed by an elder preferably by the priest Ought Clan. He then performs other rituals to propitiates the deity and for protection.
After that all the villagers decorates their house with this herb. The ritual also consists of burning a particular nut called “VUI” in hot ash. If the nut burst then it is taken as good omen. No outsiders and guest are allowed to enter the village gate as it was feared that the evil spirit might harm them. The villagers collect fire from the morung and take it to the house and lit up their home. During the festival no one is allowed to venture out of their village gate.
Beliefs
The people faithfully observe all the rituals for fear of displeasing their deity. So, they tried their level best to pleased the deity so that in turn he will protect them from evil intentions of Usingkaklak (the devil). It was believed that if the herb is found wilting in any home then some calamity will happen in that house. The people also believed that if the nut does not burst then the family will suffer that year. According to the belief of the people their deity Shambule Muhgha pays a visit late at night during the time of ceremony to receive offerings of the people and such is the belief that are been following till day. During his visit the god takes away the soul of those people who are destined to die. So, the people pray that they be spared from death. The people beat log drum to drive away the devil from entering their village to deprive them of the light and other evil spells. They closed their villages’ gates during the time this ceremony to debar the devil from entering the village. It is also believed that the devil waits outside the village to harm any who goes out of the village. Hence, no one is allowed to go out for fear.
During this season, marriage or engagement is not allowed
Other activities
As this ceremony coincides with the millet harvest the women folks pounds millet into fine flour and make millet bread. Sharing of bread, meat and local brew is a common feature of this festival. The men folks keep themselves occupied by playing and competing with each other with a top known a “YAN” in Chang Dialect. Playing of special musical instrument called “kongkin” by the women folks is a main feature of the celebration. On the sixth day a mass social work is organized, that is cleaning of village, wells, clearing of footpaths to the field and other villages. It is also believed not to initiate the folks dances and the folks songs in this celebration.
Conclusion
Due to the advent and the spread of Christianity almost all the rituals and ceremonies are not in practiced but the festival being part of our culture is celebrated in all Chang Inhabitat area and in every home with great solemnity and with great fanfare as it a celebration to mark the victory of good over evil and also the first harvest season of the year.

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By EMN Updated: Jul 31, 2014 10:21:30 pm
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