Chakaan Gaan-Ngai, the living ritual festival of Zeliangrongs

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Chaoba Kamson
From previous issue

The 6th Day – Worship of all gods
It is believed that all the gods of Zeliangrong pantheon also participated in the celebration of Gaan-Ngai. So Raren Loumei, the performance of the sacrifices to seven Brother Gods and the deities worshipped by Zeliangrong people is observed on the last day of the festival at the abode of northern village deity. They are:-
1. Ragwang (Na-Ragwang), Ragwang Phaipa, Koubru
2. Bisnu (Manchanu/Buichanu/Bonchanu), Bhubon Hill, Cachar
3. Napsinmei (Laorang), Ganglon Namthan (Phoulungba)
4. Karangong, Puching (Kheba Ching)
5. Chonchai, Kashokbut, Taosang
6. Charakilongmei, Bena (Thongrang Akutpa)
7. Koklou, Pongringlong
It is carried out by a priest and its objective is to ward off any diseases, misfortune, hardship, illness, death etc. Evil spirits are not worshipped but they are propitiated not to give trouble to men, in another word, to dispel the evil spirits from mankind. This ritual is known as Raren Loumei. During the performance of the ritual both the northern and southern village gates are closed and nobody is allowed to cross the gates. Violation of this restriction may invite evil consequence, even death may happen. this is the reason behind any person is not allowed to go beyond the village gates. Another reason of closure of the village gates is to stop the evil spirits from entering to the village. For this ritual every household will give a fowl, a piece of fresh ginger and a bundle of banana leaves  to the village authority. The village old men and old women will eat the cooked chickens and some quantity of chickens will be distributed to minor children. It is also a ritual of send-off all the gods (Ra Ginsonmei) upto the  village northern gate.

Worship during the festival. It was a common feature of quarelling and killing between gods and men when Tingpurengsonnang was the patriarch of the common dormitory. Accordingly, Tingpurengsonnang made a judgement and allowed them to live separately. Gods repeatedly, made requests to Tingpurengsonnang to allow them to participate and enjoy the celebration of Gaan-Ngai with men. At last, Tingpurengsonnang agreed on one condition that they should give good blessings to men on the last day of the festival. Gods also agreed with what Tingpurengsonnang said. So men blow horn of cow or mithun or buffalo inviting all the gods to participate in the Gaan-Ngai festival. Because of this reason, TRC people perform a ritual of Raren Loumei at the northern village gate on the last day of the festival.

Rangpat Tamcha
All the Banjas will bring Rangpat Tamcha in the form of eatable, salt-cake, material etc. which are equally distributed to them but Ganchangs are not entitled to enjoy it.

Rangpat Puan
Both the Dormitories of Males and Girls  will hand over puan (coin) as a scapegoat (pumlin) of boys and girls to the members of village authority.

Khupot Laitatmei
A hanging pipe made of bamboo which was earlier distributed at every household to store the diseases of epidemic  inside the pipe will be collected after pouring wine into the pipe and cover its mouth with cotton. This pipe will be thrown away beyond the village gate by the village elders.

Longevity wine (Maru zou)
A Banja will declare to all the villages to come and collect the Maru Zou. It is believed if drunken, it is  good for health and will have longevity of life.
Filling up the vacant posts
The lying vacant post of village authority (Peikai) before the Gaan-Ngai festival, the same is filled up on the day of Rangpatmei by a suitable seniormost person. It is formally declared by a Banja with an iron-hoe in the name of Tingkao Ragwang. Besides, any promotion from Khangbon to Ganchang, Ganchang to Banja, Banja to Khunbu or Khullak etc, from married woman to old woman is decided on this particular day. Prior invitation (Kaphaan Timei) is given to the proposed invitee (s) with a local salt-cake for the next year.

Calling of souls (Bukaomei)
After the performance of Raren Loumei, the village elders will return to the village peikai where another ritual ceremony known as Bukaomei will be performed. A big cock will be sacrificed after chanting the hymns invoking Tingkao Ragwang to allow to return the soul to its original place (human body). The cooked chicken will be eaten by the elders and pieces of the chicken will also be distributed to every household.

Conclusion
There is a conducive atmosphere with good term while celebrating the festival. Those who do not talk on personal grudge or enmity before the celebration of Gaan-Ngai talk during the festival.
Therefore, the festival brings love, peace, understanding, respect, unity among the people. Even the marriage is postponed due to attraction of the festival. Boys and girls continue to remember the happiness and merry making of the festival even after its celebration. That is why the Gaan-Ngai is an unforgettable one in the mind of Zeliangrong people.
Lastly, I on behalf of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland send my hearty greetings on  the occasion of Gaan-Ngai to all Zeliangrong people to enjoy the festival joyously and happily beginning from 10th January, 2017.

(Chaoba Kamson)
General Secretary
Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom
Assam, Manipur and Nagaland
# 8794627273

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