Elderly Angami men singing folk songs at the Sekrenyi celebrations of the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO), which was held at the Kezol forest, Khuzama on February 25. (Morung Photo)
Morung Express News
Kohima | February 25
“Sekrenyi is a celebration with our spirit and God. In this celebration, our thoughts need to be renewed, our health needs to improve and our relationship with our Creator needs to be strengthened,” stated Dr. Vilhousa Seleyi, President Angami Public Organisation (APO) during the Sekrenyi celebration of the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO), which was held at the Kezol forest, Khuzama on February 25.
Present at the celebration was 68 year old Medosato Thao from Jakhama village, a follower of Tsana or Krüna (Ancestor’s beliefs and rituals). Thao explained that the rituals of Sekrenyi practiced by the Krünas were very detailed. On the eve of Sekrenyi, a particular well is guarded so that it is untouched before the ritual. At dawn on the auspicious day, all the men in the village gather at the well, wash their hands and any item they possess. A small end of their shawl is also cleansed as part of the ritual. This ritual is known as Dzüseva in the Southern Angami dialect.
After the ritual, the Sekievü (sanctified rooster) is sacrificed with a prayer to the Creator. The Sekievü is one that is without any blemish and is squeezed to death, and predictions are made according to the movement of its legs. If the right leg turns over the left leg, it is a good omen that the New Year will bring good harvest and good health. If the left leg falls on top of the right leg, it is considered a bad omen.
Every single utensil or item used in the celebration has to be brand new. In Jakhama village, a specific tradition is followed, which includes the carving of new spoons for the festival. Although Sekrenyi rituals are almost the same in all Angami regions, each village or region has their own specific traditions.
The Phousazu, pure rice beer, specifically made for Sekrenyi is drunk during the festival. The Phousazu is poured in a cup made of banana leaves, which is sipped twice and kept in the rice-barn where a blessing is invoked for abundance in harvest. Another ritual called Chüsepe is performed, where two chunks of meat are kept in the leaves to give to the Creator. During this ritual, no one is allowed to enter their homes. It may also be noted that women do not partake in this festival.
At the Sekrenyi celebration at Kezol on February 25, Dr. Vilhousa Seleyi pointed out that in the past, Nagas worked hard to safeguard the lands and heritage for posterity. He added, “We need to do the same for the future descendents.”
The beauty of a village lies in its cultural heritage and traditions, and the Krünas are the carriers of our rich heritage and culture, asserted Mhokole Zashümo. He pointed out that in most Angami villages, people who follow their Ancestor’s beliefs have been reduced to single digits. There is also a growing apprehension of losing the indigenous practice of cultivation.
Medokul Sophie, former MLA during the Sekrenyi celebration urged the people to let the festival be a start for the “renewing of ourselves for our family, our community and our region.” Perhaps this urgency can best be understood in what Leso Phira, a former Krüna from Kigwema Village who recently converted to Christianity says. He states that Sekrenyi is the last festival celebrated among the Angamis and is celebrated after the crops are harvested, perhaps to commemorate the sense of completion and for a new beginning. “It is the cleansing of not just the physique but the soul,” asserts Leso, who also points out that during the festival, repentance is a precursor before the cleansing.
The program on February 25 was chaired by Zadeho Rikha, President, SAPO with Vilelie Khamo as the Chief host. Short speeches were delivered by Chatuo Paphino, President, SAGBU, Dr. Vilhousa Seleyi, President APO, Medokul Sophie.
Chatuo Paphino, President, SAGBU in his speech stated that the decision of whether to celebrate Sekrenyi late or early was often decided by the Japfüphimia (Southern Angamis). Paphino focused on safeguarding ancestral lands and concluded his speech with a blessing to the people and the land in the name of Sekrenyi.