The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Eight. The Harvest
caption: the great village feast at the start of harvest, Ouniebu
caption: killing of pigs at Ouniebu festival
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: These small private parties for the weeders are crowned by the great village feast at the beginning of the harvest, the Ouniebu. The Konyaks deem it far safer to propitiate the gods, collecting new strength by a few days of thorough eating and drinking, before they begin to reap, than to wait for the feasting until after the harvest.
text: On the first day after full moon the gaonbura surprised me with the information that the Ouniebu had already begun.
text: "We made a mistake in counting the days," they explained, "for how could we see the moon while it was raining night and day? But yesterday we caught a glimpse, and saw that the moon was full. Quickly we called together the old men and decided to start the Ouniebu today." (80) Had I known of their trouble I could have helped them with my calendar, and told them that the moon would be full on the 2nd of September. As it was, I had not realized on which day the Ouniebu should begin. Now, however, the situation was saved, for that morning Yongmek, of the founder's clan, had cut a few ears of each of the seven kinds of rice and hung them up in his house, and so the harvest could begin.
text: When I went to the village the calm of the morning was broken by the squeaking and grunting of pigs tied up to be slaughtered.
text: The men of the Thepong morung alone killed eighteen pigs and one mithan bought for thirty rupees by Shankok and some of his friends from Chui. The killing of pigs is not a pleasant sight. It is performed, not by the owner, but by the oldest man of his clan, who receives the heart and the kidneys as a reward. Two men hold the miserable squealing animal, as a pointed bamboo spike is driven into its breast. Small comfort to the luckless pig that the killer calms its last moments with the words : "We do not send you on a bad path, we send you on a good path; do not be angry with us."