A HARVEST FESTIVAL CELEBRATED BY THE GARO TRIBE, WHO LIVE IN MEGHALAYA AND ASSAM IN HONOUR OF SALJONG (SUNGOD)
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:
Wangala is an important winter harvesting festival of the Garo Tribes residing in Meghalaya and Assam. It is generally celebrated on the month of November. This festival is dedicated to ‘Misi Sanljong’ or ‘Pattigipa Ra’rongipa’ that means God Sun. The people show their gratitude to God Sun for blessing them with an affluent yield throughout the year.
Wangala is also known as ‘Wanna’ and ‘Wanna Rongchuwa’ that literally means ‘hundred drums’. The celebration of this festival takes about three days but in the Metropolitan cities it is being celebrated for only one day. Apart from Meghalaya and Assam it is also celebrated in the Greater Mymensingh in Bangladesh.
According to old sayings Wangala was actually a dance performed by the creatures residing in water bodies. Though human beings were also given invitations but they didn’t know how to dance. The crabs taught them the techniques of dancing on the land. The dancing activities are thereby influenced by the movements made by the crabs.
There is no image of the God and offerings are made in commemoration of the God Sun. The ‘Rugala’ and Sasat sowa rituals are held on the first day and Dama Gogata takes place on the final or last day of the festival. The celebration of Rugala generally takes place in the house of the head of the village called as ‘Nogma’ or a shed of Bamboo is constructed near the house.
A non-refined brew made of rice known as ‘Chu’ is offered to the God. An offering of cooked rice is made to God Sun and ‘Rokime’ known to be the mother of rice. Weaving of ‘Dokhmanda’ also takes place.
Ten groups of performers are selected and each group consists of ten drummers. Wangala got its very name because of such groups. The drummers wear feather fixed turbans known as ‘Kotips’ and scarves of cotton comprising of different colours known as ‘Pandras’. The drums played by them are generally four-sided and known as ‘Damas’. Wood is used for making the Damas that is obtained from a particular tree known as ‘Gambare Tree’.
The Nokma leads the respective groups with a ‘Milam’ that means dagger and a protecting shield. He performs a dance full of aggression with howling and shouting in order to enhance the spirit of the groups contributing in the celebration of the festival.
People of any age get beautifully attired by wearing vibrant dresses known as Daksari, Gando and Dakmanda. Head coverings attached with feathers known as ‘Dome’ are worn by them and dancing with the beating of drums takes place that is known as ‘Dama’.
‘Katta Doka’ meaning conversing in singing mode and ‘Ajea’ or ‘Dani Doka’ that means description of Wangala by singing is also observed. The people rejoice themselves by performing ‘Pomelo dance’ and ‘Chambil Mesa’.
Several sports such as climbing of oil-smeared bamboo poles are held and carrying of rocks is held. A fair is organized in which weaves are sold along with field products and wooden materials.