Significance of Gaan Ngai festival

Budha Kamei
Contd from previous issue
Maintenance of good behavior:
Discipline is sternly enforced by the elders for young boys and girls. An act of issuance of whip locally called Thingngun Kadimei is performed at the Khangchiu. The objective of issuance of whip is to teach boys to obey what the elders say, to accomplish the works assigned to them.
As a customary practice, an arrangement is made to beat the boys nominally exhorting to pay much attention to work. The young boys request the elders producing a bottle of wine not to beat them.
If the request is accepted, they may be exempted from beating. The girls’ dormitory also follows the same rule. In case the boys are to be beaten, a junior Gaanpi will handle the whip’ whereas at the girls’ dormitory, the twisted cloth called Pheilaak is handled by Tunapi. It clearly indicates the authority that the elders have in community and the respect that needs to be given to the elders.
Peace and harmony:
Worship of Tingkao Ragwang and communal meal (Jeigantumei) is performed in the festival to preserve and promote unity, love and brotherhood of the community. Unity of the community is recognized as a key element in festival participation. By tradition, participatory actions during Gaan-ngai festival are main platforms through which the Zeliangrong express and shape their ideas about identity, religion, social relations, and belonging.
Conclusion:
Culture is the way of life of a social group; the group’s total man-made environment, including all the material and non-material products of group life that are transmitted from one generation to the next.  Gaan-ngai is an extension of the religious beliefs and practices – rites and rituals for the whole village community.
The system of worship of Tingkao Ragwang, Zeliangrong pantheon gods, village presiding deities, goddess of paddy and ancestors are reflected in the festival. In other words, it is a unique cultural phenomenon, a form of aesthetic expression of the Zeliangrong antique religion and philosophy. As a multifaceted cultural phenomenon, Gaan-ngai is the time of expression of artistic talents, physical strength through martial arts, dance and music. Socially, Gaan-ngai promotes peace and unity within the family system and the society as a whole.
By participating in the festival, people settle disputes and misunderstandings. Thus, Gaan-ngai festival serves as an institution through which the Zeliangrong religion and culture is sustained.


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