Zeliangrongs committed to their culture and religion
By Ng Thomas
IMPHAL | Jan 10
Unfettered by the problems created by economic blockade and demonetization, the Zeliangrong community remains steadfast in their commitment to preserve the age-old traditions and culture as the annual Gaan-ngai festival begins today.
Gaan-ngai is the post harvest festival of the Zeliangrong community which is spread across the states of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.
‘Zeliangrong’ is the combined name of three cognate tribes Zeme (Zemei), Liangmai and Rongmei otherwise known as Kabui in the state.
Puimei, another cognate tribe performs the same festival.
It is a post-harvest festival which occurs in December/January or Wakching in Manipuri calendar since thousands of years ago.
Literally it means the festival of winter season “Gaan” means winter and “Ngai” means festival.
The festival symbolizes the end of a year giving into a major cultural event of not only the Zeliangrong community but of other communities as well regardless of caste, creed or religion.
The festival continues for five consecutive days. The Kabui Nagas honor their ancestor through sacred rituals.
Various classical dances and melodious folk music as well as dances were performed by the men and women of the group in colourful attire for the audiences using classical instruments.
A grand feast is held for visiting relatives, close friends with varieties of delicious dishes like chicken, beef, pork along with their traditional wines.
During the festival, the youths perform several activities including sports events and also they compete in dance and music.
They also exchange gifts with their dear and near ones. The occasion gives a beautiful and enriching way to behold the religious background of the Zeliangrong tribe.
A resident of Keishamthong village said, the UNC economic blockade and demonetisation has caused them disadvantages not only in buying things but also on all the ritual events.
A Kakhulong resident said, most of the tribal communities are changing their religion into Christianity not only in the valley but also in all the remote areas of the hilly areas. Yet, the Zeliangrong tribe is trying to preserve its culture, traditions and religion.