Namsu Namdimmei: Foundation of a Zeliangrong village

Dr Budha Kamei
From previous issue
It is believed that the nature of the spleen of a pig predicts the future; if the spleen bears blemish, it is a sign of bad omen, but if the spleen bears no blemish it is a sign of good omen. A healthy spleen is believed to have indicating prosperity in crops, livestock and population. After the rite, the internal organs (head, liver, lung and entrails) of the victim (Guak Babung) are buried at the same spot with ritual. It may be noted that the burial site is kept secret and nobody is known except the elder who performed it.
It was believed that if an enemy of the village can find some earth from the same spot the village would be in trouble in the hand of the enemy. The victim is consumed by the present members. This is followed by Roiphai Daan Jaomei, observation of cock’s legs; (Roi means cock, Phai means legs and Daan Jaomei, to observe). As per this custom, the priest would offer a big and beautiful cock to Tingkao Ragwang for wellbeing and prosperity of the village. By examining the movement of the legs of the dying cock the priest will predict the future prospect of the village; if the right leg fell on the left leg or left fell on the right is good, but it stops down lifelessly it is considered as a bad omen. A scholar writes, “The foundation of the village depended upon the prediction of the priest who could predict the question of fertility of land, prospect of security from enemies and prosperity, etc. People respected the priest’s prediction to determine the settlement of the village.” The above rites and rituals are concluded by libation of holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang, ancestors (Kairao) of the village and evil spirits (Rahshi-Rahrou) not to give trouble to men. Then, they would also locate a place which is suitable for the village gate (Kairong Raang) and a water point or pond as source of water (Duihkun Khundai).
Temporary shelter (Kaithi Kailong):
If the omen is good, then the new villagers would move to the new village site with all their movable properties and livestock. They would not enter the village site directly as they have to perform certain ritual procedures. Outside the village gate, they would build Bham Kai as temporary shelters (Kaithi Kairong), where they would live for one to two years until they get favorable time to inaugurate the new site. They would clear the jungle of the village site by cutting the woods and begin cultivation work there for the particular year. This is called Kaibu Laonaomei. In fact, it is a practical experiment to show that the new village site is fertile, productive and suitable for human settlement. After plentiful harvest, they would prepare the groundwork and start to build their houses by using the materials available in the forest. Houses are usually constructed after the construction of the chief’s house. After the construction of the houses, all the doors are closed from behind and returned to the temporary shelters or old village. When all the necessary preparation and arrangements have been completed, then they would fix a date to enter the new site. It is a custom and tradition to inaugurate a new village two or three months in advance of Gaan Ngai festival, which normally falls in the month of December or January every year. (To be contd)

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