The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Account of the valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes' by Major W. McCulloch

caption: festivals
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Koupooee
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: Throughout the year the Koupooees have various festivals which they are very particular in observing, and celebrate with all their might; these are, first, the Enghan which happens in or about December. During the five days of its continuance, all the inhabitants of the village dressed in their best attire, keep up the dance and song interrupted only by short intervals of repose and breaks dedicated to feasting. Next, the Reengnai in or about January which lasts for three days. In one day during this festival, the men and women fetch separately the water for their own use. The men having killed pigs take a portion for themselves and give a portion to the women, and having cooked them separately, they eat them separately, the men in the house of the head of the family, the women each in her own house. An effigy of a man made of a plantain is hung on a tree, and at it they throw pointed bamboos or sticks. Should the javelin strike it in the head, the thrower, it is said, will kill an enemy, but if it lodges in the belly the thrower is to be blessed with plenty of food. This festival is said to be in honor of their ancestors, but the only visible sign of this is sprinkling their graves with their particular drink. On the termination of the Reengnai, they go through the ceremony of taking the omens in regard to their place of cultivation, but this seems to have descended to them merely as a ceremonial relic of former times, for the circle of cultivation is never broken, let the omens be what they may. I have omitted to state that after the Enghan, the fence or stockade around the village is put in order. It is then also customary to choose a man to go at mid-night to the outer entrance of the village, to take the omens regarding their welfare in the ensuing year. If whilst at the entrance he hears anything like (53) the dragging of wood, tigers will do mischief, if like the falling of leaves, there will be much sickness. On these occasions young men have been known to cause as Burn's describes Rab to have done "behint the muckle thorn" the omen-taker no small fright; but such pranks are considered sure to bring punishment on their performers, and not long ago a young man after having played the tiger, having died on his way to the valley, his death was universally attributed to his having incurred the anger of the deity on the occasion. In February there is a festival of three days continuance in which the ears of the children born after the last festival of this nature, are pierced. This festival loses its interest, for those who have frequently participated in it, and is looked forward to chiefly by those to whom it is new. These festivals over; the cutting of the jungle for cultivation is commenced, which, when finished, is crowned with the festival of " Oodooee yung " or drinking the juice of ginger. At a festival which occurs about July they clear the paths about their villages and leading to their fields of jungle, a most useful and necessary operation at that season of the year. One night of the month of August and one of September they dedicate to feasting. Besides these regular festivals, they have other occasions of rejoicing as when a person who has reaped a good harvest determines to treat the village and all comers. This, if done at all, is done in no stinted manner, and under the influence of plentiful potations, the dance and song are joyous.