The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

'The Feast of Merit among the Northern Sangtam Tribe of Assam', by C.R. Stonor, 1950

caption: details of the ritual
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Sangtam <Northern
date: 12.1947
person: Stonor/ C.R.
date: 1950
refnum: 'Anthropos', vol. XLV 1950
text: III. Details of the ritual.
text: The date for a feast is fixed at the convenience of the giver, and may be any time between the gathering of the harvest, and the next sowing season. In practice they are always held between December and March.
text: The following account is for the combined Anitz and Tchar Tsu feasts, when the most elaborate ceremonial is performed.
text: 1. Preliminaries.
text: Six days before the sacrifice, the fire in the giver's house is allowed to die out and the hearth is cleaned. One of the two village priests, known as peypurr, who seem to correspond very closely to the puthi of the Lhota Nagas (footnote: J. P. Mills, The Lhota Nagas (1922), p. 121.), is called in: he fetches a little earth from outside on the blade of his dao. This he spreads sybolically on the site of the hearth. A new fire is lit on the site of the hearth by one of the two ritual friends of the feaster or shyangrr myangrr, who uses a fire-thong for the purpose.
text: The next six days are devoted to the preparation, by ritual pounding, of jobs tears and rice by the women of the household, and the brewing of beer. All grain used for beer must be cooked over the new fire, which must on no account be allowed to go out.
text: News is spread abroad that the feast is about to take place: the relatives and friends from other villages are invited; and the fellow-clansmen look over their ceremonial dress, if need be sending out to neighbouring villages to borrow any articles they may be short of.
text: Two great forked posts, ten or twelve feet high, are cut from the jungle, and are brought in by fellow-clansmen (Plate II, Fig.1): They are put up in the nearest open space to the feaster's house, and alongside others still standing from previous feasts.
text: The two mithan are caught and tethered.