NGADA festival is the greatest and most important festival of the Rengma Nagas. It is celebrated in the last part of November every year, when the year-long hard toiled crops are collected from field to the granaries. The village priest announces the dates to celebrated then the preparation begins for the festivities. The men folks will clean the village, Morung, footpaths, traditional wells; collect banana leaves to be used during the festival and also expose their traditional dresses and attires in the sun to be worn during the celebration of the festival. The women folks collect firewood, prepare rice beers, wash utensils and clothes and clean the house preparing it for celebration of the festival.
NGADA festival is a celebration of the post-harvest with thanksgiving to the God Almighty for His bountiful blessings.
NGA means festival and DA means series of celebrations. NGADA means a series of festival which is celebrated for 7 to 9 days which varies from village to village. During the NGADA festival, the rich and wealthy people offer feast to the whole village with sufficient food and drinks and the villagers enjoy such food and drinks by singing, dancing and merry-making praising the host, wishing them good luck and more prosperity, making them feel warmth and pride.
During the festival even the poorest families also kill chicken and prepare food to share with in laws.
On the last second day of the festival, the village men folks dress up in full traditional attire carrying various weapons to display to others by making procession through the whole village with singing and dancing, firing guns, visiting every household and they collect whatever the households offer to the procession party, bring them outside the Morung, cook and share with all the participants on that very day’s celebration which signifies that there is no ill feeling with each other in the community, whatever wrongs or misdeeds committed in the past are forgiven and forgotten.
The following day of the NGADA festival marks the end of the year and the new year begins with cutting of new fields selected for cultivation for the year ahead with observation of rituals for bountiful harvest and protection of crops.
Some significances of NGADA festival are:-
- Renewal of relationships: During the festival, sharing of food and drinks with relatives, friends and invitees/ guests shows that any misunderstandings, disassociations during the past years are reconciled, restored and renewed. It also marks the beginning of new relationships and peace treaties.
- Respect and remembrance of the death ones: Traditionally, the Rengmas believe that during the NGADA festival, the death souls visit the family and enjoy the celebration during the festival. Therefore as sign of respect and remembrance, the families clean the graveyards and offer a piece of meat and drinks to the graveyard during the festival.
3.The past misdeeds, forgiven and forgotten: While cultivating fields with groups, doing trade and business, hunting together with the community, if anyone has hurt another intentionally or unintentionally, it should be forgiven and forgotten; invoking a new spirit of goodwill and more understanding to welcome the new year.
Khinyi Woch, President, Rengma Public Organization, Kohima
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