A FESTIVAL IN NAGALAND CELEBRATED BY THE POCHURIS IN OCTOBER
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:
Being an important festival of the Pochuris in Nagaland it is celebrated generally on the fifth day of October every year, which is the final day of celebration. Generally this festival is actually celebrated at September’s end that continues to the first week of October.
It is a harvesting festival and people rejoice the fruit of their hard work as a bountiful of crops. No agricultural work is done before the completion of the festival and people take rest to get prepared for the next cultivation.
The village spokesperson proclaims the advent of Yemshe festival as the time of celebration comes close. The rituals are held to the subsequent day of this declaration. The festival of Yemshe has been further divided into Big Yemshe and Small Yemshe. Big Yemshe is observed on a large scale by the villagers collectively whereas small Yemshe is observed by the respective houses.
A refinement feast takes place by the affluent family and before that some requisites are to be fulfilled such as:
- Supplying of liquor to the villagers is done by the family unit hosting the refinement feast
- A dance festivity is organized by the family and for this purpose Males and Females of similar ages of the head of the family are invited. An extensive meal is provided to them that mainly consist of meat.
- New mugs are made from bamboo by the relatives of the host family. Liquor is to be taken in them. Old mugs are also gathered from every house and are kept by the host family.
- Distribution of paddy rice is done to the other families in the village. The rice after being cooked is recollected and again distributed. Maize or Millet is not used for these purposes.
- The relatives take a Gemini and a Chicken for the feast. The construction of a resting shed for the host of consecration is done. Hosting of a consecration feast is customary ritual.
- Frogs are reserved in three rivers and for this purpose one hatchet for each river is given to the villagers. A feast is provided to the seniors of the village. A proclamation that the frogs are reserved and no one is allowed to catch them from such rivers is done by the host.
- After the arrangement of food and liquor the host asks his villagers to bring pine-wood so that he can cook the meat. Males are to take six pieces of meat and on the hand females are allowed only five pieces.
- The relatives enjoy themselves by drinking and eating food and at the same time build bridges in the reserved rivers to facilitate the frog catchers to go there
- There is a ritual to keep a chicken within a cage in a particular tree at a place towards the field. A particular group goes to that very spot with dried frogs and a feast is organised there. This ritual is to be performed by even the poorest people in the village.
- Sacrifices of Geminis, Pigs and Chickens are to be done in order to increase the productivity of the land.
The gathering of vegetables and meat is done and six supervisors are selected by the host. Two of them are responsible for washing ginger and the other four are engaged in the supervision of the butchers. In absence of Geminis three Pigs are taken as a substitute. The females are busy in cooking while the males do the other complicated tasks. All the villagers gather by sunset for the extensive meal. A little food is offered to the souls as a compliment of the Yemshe festival.
The final and last day the refinement feast is observed and it is compulsory for the people to stay at home and enjoy it. After that the agricultural tasks begins from the next day.