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
caption: sun-worship: brass discs worn on lengtas; white shell discs worn as necklaces
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Sangtam <Northern
date: 12.1947
person: Stonor/ C.R.
date: 1950
refnum: 'Anthropos', vol. XLV 1950
text: A remarkable feature of the ritual is the very strong element of sun worship. The lighting of the new fire, however, for preparation of a feast is an invariable accompaniment of many types of ritual among the Naga tribes, and may well have no further significance than that the old fire has become defield by indiscriminate use. As I have outlined above: (1) the night dance is accompanied by flaring torches lit at the new fire, (2) a sacred fire is lit at the place of sacrifice, (3) it is lit precisely at sunrise, (4) the mithan heads must be so orientated as to catch the first rays of the risen sun, (5) a little meat is put aside specifically for the sun and the moon, (6) beer is heated symbolically over the sacred fire, (7) I was told that the invocations before dancing and before feasting are addressed to the sun and the moon [ footnote: The large brass discs worn on their lengtas by men of several tribes of this region appear also to be solar symbols: large discs of bamboo sheath put up at one festival by the Chang Nagas were described to me as representing both the sun and the brass discs.] , and in the latter case the two celebrants had every appearance of addressing the sun (Plate III, Fig. 1