A FESTIVAL IN NAGALAND CELEBRATED BY THE LOTHAS IN NOVEMBER. THIS FESTIVAL IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE HARVESTING OF CROPS
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:
It is an important festival of the Lothas in Nagaland that is related to the harvesting of crops. It is a nine-day long festival that generally commences on the 7th day of the month of November every year. This particular day was fixed by some seniors of the tribe known as Wokha to build up a strong bond of harmony among the people.
The word ‘Tokhu’ means reaching door-to-door in clusters, taking food as well as drink. The term ‘Emong’ means stopping at a selected point of time.
The people rejuvenate themselves after a tremendous hard work on the fields and celebrate this post harvesting festival by making merry and rejoicing.
A proclamation of the starting of the festival to the villagers is done by the village priest. He goes from door-to door of the village with a basket for the collection of edibles that may consist of rice, vegetables, fruits, etc. and for this purpose ‘Yingae’ or supporters accompany him. This collection is done prior to the festival as an offering to the ‘Limha Potsow Ha Oyak Potsow’ that means God Earth and God Sky. The priest takes a small quantity of the contribution and after offering prayers he puts it into his basket. It is customary for the villagers to contribute liberally as it is believed that more contribution facilitates more crops during cultivation. A person is said to call a bad curse and expected to spend a beggar’s life if reluctant to do such contributions.
A fraction of this gathering is used to buy a pig and the rest is kept for making rice-beer. With the help of a bamboo spear a perforation is made on the pig’s heart and the abdomen is sliced open to interpret the prophecy. The destiny of the village is declared by the priest formally after a deep assessment. The pig is then cut into small portions and distributed to every house of the village.
If any stranger by chance visits the village before the beginning of the festival he is given two alternatives. Either he leaves the village prior to sunset or he stays until the time of culmination of the festival. He is entitled to get a nice treatment by the villagers.
Prayers are offered to the spirits of the people who had died in the respective year. It is customary for the family who lost any member during the year to stay in the village until the last rituals are performed.
Tokhu Emong signifies the end of any bitterness and settlement of all problems and is a festival of gratitude. Intimacy is observed by forming new ties. The people get properly dressed by wearing their conventional dresses. The wells of the villages are cleaned and the houses are repaired as well.
Marriages are arranged for young males and females after the festival who gets engaged during the year. Preparation of scrumptious dishes are done and shared by the people that are followed by dancing and singing. Exchange of gifts is also done.
A non-vegetarian food is eaten on this day that mainly consists of swine meat.