Yimkhiung Community In Kohima Celebrates ‘Tsewlaknyi’ With Gusto - Eastern Mirror
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Kohima, Nagaland

Yimkhiung community in Kohima celebrates ‘Tsewlaknyi’ with gusto

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Oct 18, 2023 8:05 pm
Yimkhiung
Angopung cultural club performing a folk song during ‘Tsewlaknyi’ celebration at the State Academy Hall in Kohima on Wednesday. (EM Images)

KOHIMA — Yimkhiung Union Kohima (YUK) on Wednesday celebrated ‘Tsewlaknyi’ festival with traditional fervour at the State Academy Hall with the advisor of Fire and Emergency Services, Home Guards and Civil Defence, Relief and Rehabilitation, S Kisumew Yimkhiung, as the special guest on the theme “Fostering the cultural legacy.”

Speakers including Kiutsuthong Yimchunger, former YUK general secretary; Hanji, YTC vice president; and S Kiusumew Yimchunger, spoke on the occasion. They have emphasised the importance of ‘Tsewlaknyi’ by describing it as one of the most significant festivals of the Yimkhiung Naga people. It was informed that the festival is primarily celebrated annually by Makury dialect-speaking group of the Yimkhiung tribe.

The term ‘Tsewlaknyi’ originates from the Makury dialect, where ‘Tsew’ means ‘shield,’ while ‘lak’ represents sanctification and ‘nyi,’ signifies festival. It, therefore, symbolises the sanctification of shields, weapons and the purification of individuals, a tradition dating back to the era of headhunting.

‘Tsewlaknyi’ also serves as the pre-harvest festival, heralding the start of the harvest season. In essence, it is a festival dedicated to purifying one’s life, activities, and life-saving tools.

The celebration spans three days with its date determined by the lunar calendar announced by the village’s chief informer, Müzawpu.

The first announcement is made six days before the festival for preparations and the second announcement occurs three days prior to the festival. Presently, it is typically celebrated from October 17 to the 19th every year.

The main ritual involves sanctifying weapons on the seventh night following the first announcement by Müzawpu, marking the first day of the festival. During this time, groups of men, who are capable of handling weapons, select a host known as ‘Yeababu,’ based on their wealth, reputation, warrior skills, and hunting expertise.

The host prepares various items including a healthy red cock, firewood, rice beer, and wild leaves called ‘seodseodvü.’

The male groups gather at designated locations on the first evening, bringing their weapons such as guns, spears, bows, arrows, shields, daos, catapults, and traps. They also contribute their best wine, cooked rice, meat, chilies, ginger, and salt.

Traditionally, the rituals are exclusively performed by men to avoid bad luck, forbidding women from participating. The sanctification ritual commences after the villagers have gone to sleep.

The ritual involves casting lots to select a ritual leader called ‘Khulupu,’ responsible for chopping the sanctified cock and fetching clean water.

Fetching water at midnight from a clean source rather than from common well must avoid meeting anyone or encountering animals.

A temporary hearth is constructed for the night’s cooking, separate from the regular hearth. Weapons are hung on a tree in a row to be sanctified by an elderly ritual leader.

The main festival is celebrated on the second and third days, wherein various groups organise traditional games, folk dances, family gatherings, fostering joy and unity.

‘Tsewlaknyi’ is also a time for marriage proposals, engagement, and setting wedding dates. The festival promotes reconciliation among friends with an exchange of peace gifts such as dao and saltcake called ‘Müngongtuh.’

‘Tsewlaknyi’ holds significance in sanctifying shields, weapons, tools, and one’s life, while also seeking divine blessings for a bountiful harvest.

Laji Luyanba, advisor of Yimkhiung Tribal Council (YTC), and Obed Quinker, chairman of Honey Mission and general secretary of NDPP, underscored the importance of fostering greater unity and prosperity within the tribe. They stressed the significance of preserving their rich cultural heritage while embracing modern education for a positive impact on the broader society.

The Angopung Cultural Club along with Daniel Kiutsathong and his group mesmerized the audience with traditional folk songs.

The programme was chaired by K Asang, while A Akum, YUK president, delivered the welcome address. Wongtokiu, pastor of YBBK, invoked divine blessings upon the gathering.

The celebration concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by Sanglimew Moses and a benediction by Racheal, associate women pastor of YBBK.

Also read: KVIC organises national seminar at Pranabananda College

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Oct 18, 2023 8:05:47 pm
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