KUT: Celebration of nature’s gift
Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
The whole state of Manipur, wherever the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi brethren live gears up to celebrate the autumn paddy-harvest festival called ‘Chavang Kut’. This yearly festival of thanksgiving is a powerful expression of man’s total dependence on nature. It also invokes a sense of gratitude to God the Almighty for his abundance in sustaining humankind on this earth. A celebration of this sort is not just a social gathering but has a deep religious sense worthy of mention.
Thanksgiving to Nature
The presence of God is felt by each person in varied and unique modes. In the Kuki brethren’s indigenous ways, God’s extension of support to mankind is powerfully felt and expressed through nature’s gifts – trees, bamboos, rocks, rivers, streams, animals, birds, insects, etc.
His creation and sustenance continue in the growth and death of everything on earth. In this particular feast of Chavang Kut, the harvest of paddy is celebrated in the village or community level.
The ‘mithun’ (Bos frontalis), a semi-wild bovine is an indispensable partaker of the celebration. Both the items for celebration are nature’s gift to mankind. In an ecological sense, it is worthy to show respect and reverence to trees, bamboos, animals that give us oxygen and food for survival. Therefore, in the indigenous Kuki tradition, one does not boastfully speak in the forest bereft of respect to nature.
Human’s Gratitude to the Creator
Sometimes it’s difficult to connect oneself to others, still harder to connect with the unseen Creator God. But humans can feel God’s presence in the air we breathe every minute of our life. To connect oneself to God is through nature. That is one of the reasons people leave for lonely places in nature to reflect and meditate. Even if you have no chance to go to the Himalayas to meditate, you can do a lot here and now.
The celebration of Chavang Kut is primarily a thanksgiving ceremony for the good harvest of paddy – the staple food for many indigenous people of Asia. Therefore, Kut should begin with prayer of thanksgiving and end with gratitude. In the olden days, it was the Thempu (indigenous Kuki priest) who would pronounce the prayer of blessing and declare open the days of thanksgiving celebration.
Expanding Oxygen Production
You can do your bit and I should do the same. Let us not wait the Forest Department or the incumbent Government to plant trees or bamboos. We all know that both trees and bamboos produce oxygen for us to breath. Instead of planting Bombs in other’s gate we should plant bamboos in our own campus. They produce thirty percentage more oxygen than trees. They need no special care, and they grow almost in any type of climatic conditions.
Bamboos are healthy and friendly to mankind. They hold the earth through their complex root system. They are economically resourceful, human-friendly and germ-resistant than trees. Each time a child is born in a family, the number of oxygen consumers are increasing but we have failed to increase oxygen producers. I earnestly urge all families to plant a tree or bamboo each time a child is born. You are doing your social responsibility of expanding oxygen-producers for your child. Tell your child that this tree or bamboo has been planted on his or her birthday, he or she will nurture it with utmost care and gratitude. Don’t just speak to your children; show them how to do it. This is education. This is ecological parenting.
Each time you cut a tree, you are depriving yourself and others of oxygen. You are a criminal in an ecological sense. Let us do service to mankind than pose as a treat. Having mere fasting and prayer in religious houses for the sake of rain and good weather is meaningless unless you and your congregation have planted trees, bamboos and have stopped cutting them.
This is a pharisaic complex. It is like praying for rain but not taking umbrella with you.
Each function we celebrate in our own little homes, let us plant a tree or bamboo to mark that occasion.
This will be a sign of gratitude to Creator God and care for the coming generation. Seminars on ecology should ideally be held in the forest or once-upon-a-time forest places to be in touch with nature. It’s easy to talk about ecology in a hall but the effect will be less compared to experiencing nature in its tangible form.
Do not just read and do nothing. Get up. Buy a tree or bamboo sapling and plant it today. Then you are ensuring life on earth.
This is the true spirit of thanksgiving to God. This is cooperation with nature. I am sure, you are deciding to cooperate with nature.
We perform our task today or we will bear the brunt of our inaction now and the days to come by. Each Kut, plant a tree or a bamboo.