Significance of Medümnio festival of Yimchungrü Naga



L. Chuba
Kohima Town



It is one of the most important and premier festival of Yimchungrü community celebrated from 1st to 8th August, of which, 6th to 8th August are regarded as the cynosure of the festival marked by multifarious rites and rituals, songs and dances, merriments and friendship, etc which knows no ends. The forerunner known as Kiulongzhirü or Chochorü announces the festival five days ahead of the celebration. Thus, prior to the festival, the days are called by different names such as Shito (Tomorrow), Zhito (Day after tomorrow), Zümto (The next day), Khihresuk (The next day), Shiresuk (The next day), and Zümresuk (The next day) respectively. As such, the celebration begins on the sixth day known as Zümresuk. If he fails to announce the same, it is believed that certain calamities shall befall upon him and the children born in the current year may happen to become dumb and numb.



The festival has the following significances:


a. Children born in the previous year and in the current year before the festival are purified by slaughtering an animal or at least buying some chunk of flesh from the neighbors for the purpose which is mandatory. The parents would prepare six pieces of cooked meat for the son and five for the girl indicating that the male have six souls and female five souls. Towards the end of the day, those pieces of meat are offered to the elderly people of the locality.


b. In this festival, newly harvested millet is cooked and consumed as the first fruit of the year. The millet is cooked and placed in a basket with an axe, machete and a scrap of metals. And a handful of millet is placed above the hearth reverently. Thereafter, driblets of local beer are spilled over the hearth with an utterance, “We offer you first in order that you may eat and drink first”. Following the act, the cinders and residuum are swept off from the hearth as a sign of welcoming newly harvested grains.


c. A branch of a particular tree known as Mükdung Sang, and six pieces of banana leaves, of which three are packed with slices of ginger and sour powder (thümühsan) and other three containing ritualistic meat, are pierced at the entrance of every households with an utterance calling for a bountiful blessing from every possible directions and from every aspects. Thereafter, driblets of rice beer are spilled over the rituals stuffs. The young boys may collect those stuffs from each household and kept at one place and simultaneously set out to cleanse the path of the village’s well. The absentees are obliged to contribute a plateful of rice and a piece of meat. The party would enjoy singing and dancing throughout the night with the contributed provisions.


d. In this festival the young boys and girls associate freely with one another. The young lovers may also exchange gifts to each other. Mostly, marriage betrothal is made during the festival when the parents of the intending lovers can fix a day for their marriage.


e. It is a day when the friends, relatives, brothers and sisters are invited and treated with drinks and meat. It is a time of love and consolidation of friendship and a day of declaration the hosting of the feast of merit.


f. It is a day of inculcating a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. The married sisters present a seasoned local beer, agricultural products and other gifts to their brothers. In return their brothers present a chunk of meat to them.


g. It is also a day of honouring the souls of the death. It is strongly believed that during the festival, the dead souls of the relatives visits each households of their living relatives and while going back to their land, the soul of those living who are to die the current year, too, are lead away. Therefore, special pieces of meat and rice are laid over the fender for the dead souls who are expected to arrive at being fully hungry and exhausted. In the morning, if a plate or package of food served for the soul appeared to be littered or eaten, it is postulated that the dead soul had consumed them. However, if such arrangement is failed, it is said that they would arrive at the house and utterly censure and curse the living relatives. Hence, it is pertinent that some amount of rice and meat should be preserved for the souls.


During the period of observation, it is forbidden for anyone to set out to one’s field or wood for the purpose of hunting, collecting firewood and the like. It is believed that the field of a person who acted in defiance of the customary rule may be devastated by the storms and other unnatural aspects. It is also forbidden for a person to wander around the village all alone owing to the belief that a malevolent spirit is always seeking for an opportune time to either devour of cause infliction to a person. Therefore, it is expedient that a person should be accompanied by one or more friends to avert the impending belief.


As mentioned above, one of the most interesting aspects of the festival is that there is no single house without meat and drinks. Even the pauper of the village manages to maintain some quantity of rice, meat and drinks for the festival. The rice, meat, rice beer, firewood and water are stored in advance enough for the whole period of celebration. The influence of festive mood is so great that even the oldest and the toddlers of the village join hands in singing and dancing day and night. There is no grief and regret in merrymaking.