Chakaan Gaan-Ngai, the living ritual festival of Zeliangrongs

Chaoba Kamson
Contd from previous issue
The reason for celebration of Gaan-Ngai
Tingkao Ragwang  created man to do some important works in this world. But he should not always continue to his works only. He needs rest after hard working. He should perform rites and rituals, cary out cultural and sports activities as thanks-giving to Tingkao Ragwang for rich harvest. People worship and pray to Him for well-being and prosperity in the days to come. Gaan-Ngai is the expression of rejoicing of the community with prayer to Tingkao Ragwang for plenty and welfare.  TRC people want to take part the celebration of Gaan-Ngai festivals for one hundred times however it depends on the mercy of Tingkao Ragwang. Once man dies he never revives except rebirth. Flowers once bloomed will one day regain in course of time. Likewise, Gaan-Ngai festival once celebrated will recycle  endlessly.
The purpose for celebration of Gaan-Ngai is to sustain folk songs, to beat drum and dance, to nurture cultural activities, to worship Tingkao Ragwang and other lower realm gods, to shout huai, to execute customary duties suh as filling up the vacant post of village authority, males dormitory, the house of old women, the house of married women, admission of new members to boys and girls dormitories, newly married women admitted to women’s institution  as new members, married women to head women, head women to old women, promotion from boys to gaanpi, gaanpi to khangbon, khangbon to gaanchang, gaanchang to banja, banja to Nampou/Namgakpou/Napmupou etc.
Tributes paid to the departed souls
Those who died in the previous year are given ritual farewell during the festival. The graves are beautiful and decorated in order to offer the rich tributes. Farewell dances are also preseted in honour to the deported souls. Feast is served to the community in his/her name. It is believed that those souls are with the living people till the festival ends. The deceased family offers foods and drink on the graves both in morning and evening before the living people eat and drink. On the first day of festival, the males’ dormitory will give a big pig’s thigh as a farewell gift to the family. In reciprocation, the deceased family also presents farewell gift as desired by the family. The farewell dance in honour to the departed soul is also presented.
The males’ and girls’ dormitories offer curry to the deceased family in his/her name till the festival is over. That is why, the Gaan-Ngai festival is regarded as for the living and the dead. To be contd

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