KNOW YOUR NORTHEAST:Highlights of the Lui Ngai Ni festival,a harvest festival in Manipur!
Northeast India is a region comprising of rich diversities. Each state is unique and culturally rich in its own way. All the states are scarcely populated and are mainly full of tribal population. The people of these states are always on a celebration spree. The festivals are celebrated round the year with lots of dance and music. Some festivals celebrate the harvesting season and some are celebrated for worshipping the god.
Below is a highlight of one of the Major harvest festivals of the North East Region:
Lui Ngai Ni is the seed-sowing festival celebrated by the Naga tribes of Manipur,India.The festival heralds the season of seed sowing and marks the start of the year for the Nagas.The festival is celebrated annually on 14–15 February at the start of the spring season.
The word "Lui – Ngai – Ni" is coined from three different Naga languages. "Lui" comes from "Luiraphanit", a Tangkhul word for seed sowing festival, "Ngai" means festival in Rongmei language and "Ni" is a Mao word for the seed sowing festival.
In all there are about forty odd tribes that constitute the Naga society, and out of these about twenty of them are found in the state of Manipur alone.
They are, Anal, Mao, Maram, Poumai, Tangkhul, Zemei, Liangmai, Rongmei, Puimei, Moyon, Monshang, Maring, Tarao, Lamkanq, Chothe, Kharam, Chiru, Koireng, and Thangal tribes. Like any tribals of the North East India, the Nagas have rich and colorful culture.
The seed sowing festival is very important in Naga culture.Apart from the major Naga tribes in Manipur, other Naga tribes from Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh partake in the festivities as special guests and invitees.
The festival is a special occasion to honour and appease the gods of crop and to pray for the well being of the people. During this festival, the Gods of crops is invoked to shower his blessing on the seeds of their cultivation so that it grows to bear a fruitful harvest that the general well-being of the people is ensured.
The blessing of almighty is beseeched with expressions through dances, songs, and rituals. And it is this cultural continuity that we see some of the most delightful dances, songs and other customary rituals presented by Lui-Ngai-Ni every year.
Lui-Ngai-Ni is celebrated in all the Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, however, the main festivity is hosted alternately at the Naga inabited district headquarters namely Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Senapati and Chandel.After a great deal of studies by a cultural group of the Nagas, this festival was given a modern concept by naming this festival "Lui-Ngai-Ni" and its celebration given a collective shape in the year 1987, and in recognition of this zealous efforts of the Naga community, the Government of Manipur has declared a public holiday for the festival, and the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has also listed the festival of "Lui-Ngai-Ni" as one of the tourist festival of India.
The festival is one of the very important festivals of the Naga people.The rich cultural heritage of the nagas is imbibed throuh this festival."Lui- Ngai- Ni" is also considered to be an everlasting festival even in this globalized world.
(Compilation by Natasha Dkhar with inputs from internet sources)