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Ketholeno Neihu
Date of Publish: 2017-07-18

Kerunyi - a festival of the Angamis to mark the beginning of paddy transplantation

The Angamis have many colourful festivals associated with their agricultural practices. Kerunyi is one such colourful festival of the tribe to mark the beginning of paddy transplantations. An extravagant feast, singing, dancing and traditional games mark the festivity that lasts for three to four days. In April this year, the Merama khel of Phesama village in Kohima district of Nagaland organised Kerunyi for upholding the values of traditional practices. In the Angami villages, there are more than two khels which is a sub-division. It is also called ‘thino’ where different clans live in close quarters and affinity. The Angamis have many colourful festivals associated with their agricultural practices. Kerunyi is one such colourful festival of the tribe to mark the beginning of paddy transplantations. An extravagant feast, singing, dancing and tradtional games mark the festivity that lasts for three to four days. In April this year, the Merama khel of Phesama village in Kohima district of Nagaland organised Kerunyi for upholding the values of tradtional practices. In the Angami villages, there are more than two khels which is a sub-division. It is also called ‘thino’ where different clans live in close quarters and affinity.

Organized and initiated by the khel’s youth organization, they observed the need for reviving and understanding the conceptual uniqueness and our own traditional practices. As an entity, the leaders urged the youths to live the life well, through hard work and sincerity bridging oneself from immoral activities and corruption which has become rampant today.

Among many other festivals and feasting of the Angami tribe, ‘Kerunyi’ which falls in the month of May coincides with the transplanting of paddy in the field. It marks the beginning of paddy transplantation. While rice plantation is labour intensive, the festival continues for three to four days until the rice beer and other meat items are left.

“Different ‘Pelikro’ or ‘age-sets’ relishes the days with meat curry, rice beer, singing traditional songs, dancing and competing through traditional games. During rice plantation seasons, young boys and girls in the same ‘Peli’ make rounds in every different field.” Zathole, the eldest attendee shared.

All vibrantly dressed in traditional attire, seventeen “Pelikro” or peer groups or age-sets from the khel of both male and female alike, about 370 of them participated in the festival.

The peer attendees aged from 15- 60 years. A variety of indigenous food items as pork, duck, snail, chutney etc were prepared. The feeling of oneness and unity was rightly accomplished.

The festival marked its conclusion with a walk of about 2 kilometers from the field till the village Morung with women in the order of the ascending age sets leading the line followed by men enchanting songs or ‘kewhu’.

In the return from the fields, women carry an alder leaf or small branch of it on their baskets.

On reaching the village ‘Morung’ men continues to enchant the “khewu” rounding a playground several times which concludes after loud cries of enchanting or “khewu”

[As an agrarian society, the Angami Nagas also celebrates many other festivals or “nyi” throughout the year. “Terhunyi” falls in the month of December as a thanksgiving to God for good harvest and health. Next comes the “Sekrenyi” which is significantly celebrated to ask blessings for the year and also a “festival of purification”. “Ngonyi” falls in the month of April to mark the completion on the newly prepared jhum fields. Then comes the “Kerunyi”. In the month of August, “Tsiinyi” or millet festival is celebrated to mark the completion of millet harvest. “Liekhwenyi” or field-guarding festival is celebrated in the month of September or October. “Liede” is the festival beginning the mark of rice harvesting which falls in the month of November and at the end of November “Tiekede” or “Kevakete” celebrates the completion of harvest. (source: Zetsuvi, S Ketholesie., Traditional culture of the Angami Nagas, HPH books, Dimapur, 2014, First Edition)]

Ketholeno Neihu

( Ketholeno Neihu is a student of M.A. ( Second Semester) at the Centre for Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication, Dibrugarh University. She is currently doing her Summer Internship at NEZINE. )

Photographs used in this feature were taken by Ketholeno Neihu

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