Nagaland is a hilly state in the North East of India and is home to several tribes. There are officially 16 recognized tribes by the Nagaland Government. The ‘Sixteen (16) Recognised Scheduled Tribes of Nagaland’ includes the following —
Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger, Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang), Kuki and Kachari.
Each tribe has got their own customs and traditions that translate into a place for celebration almost year round. Nagas being animistic before the coming of Christianity, and their society being predominantly agriculture based, the festivals are mostly related to elements like the spirits that saunter the villages and forests; the fertility of soil; community bonding; sowing and harvesting of fields; and merry making after harvest.
Some Major Festivals of tribes of Nagaland (month wise):
Date: January 15
Among the many festivals of the Chakhesang tribe, Tsukhenye and Sükrünye are the primary festivals celebrated by the Chakesangs.
After the harvest, and with the beginning of the new year with the arrival of Spring, the Chakhesangs engaged in activities related to traditional sports and entertainment. These activities culminates with the Tsukhenye festival. The Tsukhenye festival lasts for four days. On the first morning of the Tsukhenye festival, the village elder sacrifices a rooster. The men folk also partake in purification ritual by bathing in designated river/stream/well early in the morning where no women are allowed.
Sükrünye festival is considered the most important festival of the Chakhesang tribe during which boys and girls are consecrated though religious ceremonies and rituals. The Sükrünye festival lasts for total eleven days.
Other popular festivals of Chakhesang Naga tribe includes:
- Thuni – 5 January, Post-harvest festival
- Ngunye – 1 February
- Tsukhenye – 24 April
- Khukhu – 17 August
Date: January 17
‘Mimkut’ is one of the major festival of the Kuki tribe. ‘Mimkut’ is a harvest festival which spans for a week from the 17th day of the Kuki month of Tolbol. It is believed that the ‘Mimkut’ festival started to be celebrated to appease the demon, Thilha. The festival used to involve series of rituals including sacrificing a fowl to appease the spirit of the demon-god.
Kuki’s are believed to have migrated to Nagaland from the South and were also known as ‘Aishen’ when they migrated from Manipur.
Other popular festival of the Kuki tribe:
- Chavang Kut (November 1).
Festival: Bushu or Bushu Jiba
Tribe: Dimasa Kachari
Date: Last week of January
‘Bushu’ or ‘Bushu Jiba’ is the primary festival of the Kachari tribe. It is a post harvest festival of the Kacharis. The festival is celebrated after the harvesting is over and the barns are filled. The festival does not have a fixed date but is celebrated around a full moon night considered to be auspicious around the last week of January.
Date: February 10-15
The Zeliangrong tribe is formed of three sub-tribes, namely – the ZEmei, the LIANGmei and the RONGmei. The ‘Hega festival is one of the primary festival of the Zeliang tribe which is a matrimonial festival. The festival is dedicated to the Almighty for protection, blessings and guidance. The festival highlights feasting and merrymaking. The Zeliangs consider this festive season to be auspicious for young couples to tie nuptial knot.
Other popular festivals of the Zeliang tribe:
- Mileinyi: 11 March
Chaga Gadi/Langsimnyi: 31 October
Date: February 25 to 27
‘Sekrenyi’ is the major festival of the Angami Naga tribe. Angamis are from Kohima district of Nagaland. The ‘Sekrenyi’ festival falls in the Angami month of ‘Kezei’. The ‘Sekrenyi’ festival is a celebration of purification accompanied with feasting and singing. The festival is celebrated for 10 days. The objective of the festival is to renew and “make holy” by cleansing the “body and the soul” of the village as a whole, and to bring forth unity. It also marks initiation of young people to adulthood.
Other popular festivals of the Angami tribe:
- Te-l Khukhu: 13 July
- Terhüni: 9 December
Date: April 1
Monyü festival is celebrated by the Phom tribe to celebrate the arrival of New Year. Phoms celebrate Monyü festival with the beating of log drums with distinct tune traditionally called “Lan Nyangshem”. One of the interesting feature of the Monyü festival is that the men folk shows respect to their married daughters or sisters with specially prepared food and rice beer. This tradition show the respect womenfolk have in the Phom households.
Other popular festivals of the Phom tribe:
- Holong Monglashi : 3 April
Festival: Aoleang or Aoleang Monyü
Date: April 1-2
Aoleang Monyü is the major festival of the Konyak Nagas. It is a Spring festival celebrated by the Konyaks in the first week of Aoleang lee (April). The festival is celebrated to mark the end of the old year and to welcome the new year beginning with Spring. The Konyaks wish for fruitful year and a bountiful harvest during Aoleang festival.
Other popular festivals of the Konyak tribe:
- Lao-Ong Mo : 28 September
Festival: Moatsü or Moatsü Mong
Date: May 1-3
Moatsü or Moatsü Mong is the major festival of the Ao Naga tribe. Moatsü festival is a binding festival celebrated after the sowing season is over. The festival is celebrated with singing and dancing both by the men and women folk of the community in traditional attires.
Other popular festival of the Ao tribe:
- Tsungrenmong : 1 to 2 August
Date: May 5
Khiamniungans celebrate the Miu festival during the time of sowing to offer players for good crop and harvest. The other purpose of the Miu festival is to build and reinforce relations between a maternal uncle and his nephews and nieces. The maternal uncle offers players to dieties for granting prosperity and power over enemies to his nephews and nieces.
Other popular festivals of Khiamniungan are:
- Khaozaosie-Hok-Ah : 20 January
- Biam : 7 August
- Tsokum : 5 October
Date: July 8
Tuluni is one of the main festivals of the Sumi tribe, which normally spans for three (3) days. Tuluni in Sumi means ‘rice beer‘. This festival is marked with feasts as the occasion occurs in the bountiful season of the year. Tuluni is also called “Anni” the word of which denotes the season of plentiful crops. This midyear festival is a time of communal harmony and merry-making for the Sumi community. Another feature of the festival is the exchange of gifts and hosting of meals between betrothed couples and their families.
Other popular festival of the Sumi tribe:
- Ahuna : 14 to 15 November – Post harvest festival of Sumi Tribe.
- Apikimti : 4 to 5 November
Date: July 31
Naknyulüm is one of the major festival of the Chang tribe. Naknyulüm is a festival of bonding and friendship where people engage in exchange of gifts and delicacies. The Changs also engage in traditional games during Naknyulüm festival such as – top spinning, tug-of-war, high jump, long jump, climbing pork-fat-oiled-bamboo poles and mouth-grabbing cooked meat hung high on poles.
During Naknyulüm festival, womenfolk also play the traditional instrument called ‘Kongkhim’.
Other popular festival of the Chang tribe:
- Poang Lüm : 13 January
- Kundaglün : 1 April
Tribe: Yimchungru / Yimkhiung
District: Tuensang, Kiphire
Date: August 4 – 8
Metemneo festival is celebrated by the Yimchungru tribe after the harvest of millet. During Metemneo festival, Yimchungru people also offers prayers for the departed ones. An elder known as Kheanpuru inaugrates the festival with prayers. The festival is speard over 5 days, each day distinctly known as – Shito, Zhinto, Zumto, Khehresuk and Sheresuk.
Other popular festivals of the Yimchungru tribe:
- Tsungkamneo : 16 January
- Wangtsunuo : 16 April
District: Tuensang, Kiphire
Date: September 3
Mongmong is one of the most important festival of the Sangtam tribe beside other festivals spread over the year. The main reasons to celebrate the festival is to worship the deity of the house and three cooking stones in the fire place.
Other popular festival of Sangtam tribe:
- Tsohsu : 12 March
- Hunapongpi : 18 August
Date: October 5
‘Yemshe’ is the major festival of the Pochury tribe. It is a pre-harvest festival for blessing the harvest. ‘Yemshe’ is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety anticipating a good harvest.
Other popular festivals of Pochury tribe are:
- Nazu : February – Celebrated for ten days in the month of February, just before sowing begins.
- Yemshe : 5 October
Festival: Tokhu Emong
Date: November 7
Tokhu Emong is the primary festival of the Lotha tribe. Tokhu Emong is a post harvest festival. Tokhu in Lotha means ‘feast’ and Emong means ‘rest day’. The festival is celebrated to celebrate the end of harvest season and the people rejuvenate themselves after a tremendous hard work on the fields and celebrate this post harvesting festival by making merry and rejoicing in song, dance and feasting.
Date: November 27-28
‘Ngada’ is the primary festival of the Rengma Naga tribe. It is a post harvest festival and is celebrated as a sign of thanksgiving and a time to rejoice, which also marks the end of the agricultural year. The village high priest also called Phensengu heralds the beginning of the festival.
Summary of Festivals of Nagaland:
|Poang Lüm||Chang||13||January||Premier festival of the Chang Nagas|
|Sükrünye||Chakhesang||15||January||Main Festival of Chakhesang Tribe. Boys and girls are sanctified through religious ceremonies and rituals.|
|Mimkut||Kuki||17||January||Post harvest festival of Kukis|
|Khaozaosie-Hok-Ah||Khiamniungan||20||January||Marks the end of all agricultural activities for the year, a time to rest and give thanks to god.|
|Bishu||Kachari||27||January||Post harvest festival|
|Sekrenyi||Angami||25||February||'sekre' meaning "sanctification" and 'thenyi' meaning "festival." "a "purification festival".|
|Hega||Zeliang||10 to 15||February||Biggest Festival of Zeliang Tribe. A festival invoking the Almighty's blessings|
|Nazu||Pochury||February||Celebrated for ten days in the month of February, just before sowing begins.|
|Aoleang Monyu||Konyak||1 to 2||April||Post sowing festival - to welcome new season and invoke divine blessings.|
|Phom Monyu||Phom||1 to 2||April||Biggest festival of Phom Naga. Post sowing festival to invoke divine blessings|
|Moatsu||Ao||2||May||Post sowing festival -|
|Tsungrenmong||Ao||1 to 2||August||Tsungremmong-The eve of harvest - seek blessing of God for good harvest.|
|Tsokum||Khiamniungan||5||October||festival of dedication to commence the harvest|
|Tokhu Emong||Lotha||06 to 07||November||Post-harvest festival of Lotha Tribe.|
|Ahuna||Sumi||14 to 15||November||Post harvest festival of Sumi Tribe.|
|Ngada||Rengma||27 to 28||November||The harvest festival of the Rengma tribe.|
|Apikimti||Sumi||4 to 5||November|
Quiz: Identify Naga Tribe