Zeliang people to celebrate Mlei-ngyi festival
Dimapur, March 2 (EMN): A community group Jalukie Pumling Nko (JPN) has announced Mlei-ngyi festival, stated to be one of the most important festivals of the Zeliang people, and celebrated from March 9 onwards. A note from the organisation on Monday stated that the event marks “self purification and the advent of a new farming season seeking God’s blessings for health and productive farming year.”
The festival is a weeklong event involving various activities such as traditional fire-making, merry-making and games and sports, the updates stated.
The organisation explained some of the features of the festival.
‘The village high priest/harbinger conveying all good wishes to his community, proclaims the arrival of the festive season to enable preparation of the self, and food, drinks and dresses etc. All preparatory agricultural activities such as jungle-clearing for current jhum fields and millet harvesting cultivated in fallow jhum areas are completed well ahead of the commencement of the event,’ the JPN stated.
‘On the onset of the festival, all men folks take bath early in the morning from the ceremonious spring-well signifying self-cleansing and purification. Ahead of the festival, it involves traditional seed treatment so that seeds sown after the festival are vigorous and healthy.’
Preparation of local rice brew for consumption during the entire festivity period is done in advance, before the beginning of the festival, the organisation stated.
Further, traditional fire making activities mark the commencement of the Mlei-ngyi festival and is usually performed by the clan headman of each dormitory by using strands of bamboo and fine bamboo fibres and keep the flames burning until the culmination of the festival.
During the entire festive period, the clan headman will abstain from ‘having any indulgence with spouse,’ the press release explained.
The slaughter of animals meant to be had as food during the festival is done by persons having pure lineage among the villagers. The occasion witnesses engaged couples being invited to their respective in-laws for dinners and blessings. The dinner invitation by village folks usually continues during the entire festive period, the JPN stated.
The males, usually with their cup of beer and meat preparations from home, enter their dormitory declaring ‘Aoo…yieee… ketyei-kesak ngyi, kehing-kelia ngyi… aki, mlia pungla’ which means “Festival of food and drinks, festival of prosperity and longevity,” the organisation stated.
Further, early in the morning, matured male members from two major clans Heu and Hau, go to the jungles to make wooden totems for each clan. The plank is then brought to the village with each clan carrying their respective wooden totem to place it at a clean location, it was informed.
The JPN stated: ‘Then all male members in traditional attires gather to howl around the totem and proceed to play grounds for traditional games and sports like hedau (kicking the plank), heram (high jump), tsugi (shot put), hesim (long leap), hejo (long jump), hepo (wrestling) etc. This event usually witnesses wide participation and stiff competition from capable youngsters. The event marks the best athletes of the village for the year. The sporting event culminates with a traditional howl (nro) by male members congregated around a field (hejo).’
The next day, the updates explained, the families share festival food packages with sisters married outside the village. The evening hours have male members visiting female dormitories and calling them out by name and having conversations, the JPN stated.
Consecutively, during the preceding day, male members of different clans collect firewood and pile it up at a selected place for firewood filching (sic) in the evening by the women, the JPN stated.
‘At the fall of dusk, female dormitory members usually come singing soulful ballads and visit male dormitories and perform traditional events like finger identification, tug-of-war and filching (sic) firewood,’ the group stated.
On the final day of the festivities, the clan headman douses the festival fire. Members of the female dormitories cook sticky rice and share it with male dormitories as well as each female member including young girls, the JPN stated.
As for post-festival events, male members engaged in agricultural practices of burning jhum fields gift animals and birds that were killed or captured, to female dormitories, the press release stated.
‘Female members collect meat from their homes and cook in dormitories. Discarded pieces of meat and bones are collected by younger boys,’ the organisation stated.
Boys and girls together have recreation and merrymaking with would-be-brides and grooms by singing, the press release stated. The bride-to-be along with friends from her dormitory selects a married man to lead in traditional dancing and gives him a mouthful of salt and wine, the organisation stated.
The Jalukie Pumling Nko of Nagaland and chairmen of 14 villages in Jalukie covey Mlei-ngyi greetings to the people. They have requested everyone to ‘get prepared with traditional attires, foods and drinks for a cheerful and successful joint festivity,’ the press release stated.