Monyu Festival

Tuensang, Nagaland

Summer in Nagaland fetches no less joy and festivity. When pinching cold waves depart paving the way for the summer season festivity gathers momentum in the hilly north eastern state. The best place to visit during this period is Tuensang where the Phoms celebrate the much vaunted festival of Monyu.

The 12 day long annual event, in fact, marks the end of winter which comprises community feasting, dancing, singing apart from many social activities. But the dominating item here is rice beer. The advent of the seasonal event is marked by the sound of log drum, popularly known as Lan Nyangshem, when the women folk start preparing rice beer to be served to the near and dear ones as a mark of love and respect. The fate of the festival is predicted by the priests or the elders after the end of a slew of formalities.

The first day is Shongten-Laiphen meant for preparation. Households get busy with the collection of bamboos apart from steaming food items.

This is followed by Aiha Okshok the next day. This comprises brewing of rice beer, holding feast by sharing the kills. The third day is called Chingi Okshok where every family slaughters animal for the celebration. Then the fourth day comes. Known as Yenthiu, it marks the arrival of guests and friends. On the fifth day called Chingthem, the community celebration takes place with songs, dances, rice beer, log drums which keeps the festivities alive. The Yen-Yan falls on the sixth day marking an end to the event.

This event is a nice occasion for the married women to be honoured with gifts. They are invited and honoured by the parents to participate in the family feast. They are shared with the thighs of the slaughtered animal. The married daughters and  sisters prepare a special food items and serve to the elders of the clan as a mark of love and respect.  

According to what the Phoms believe, only Monyu festival leads the departed souls to their heavenly abode. Thus, they find it an occasion to bid farewell to the souls of the dear and near ones who died that year. Only in the summer season maximum number of death takes place in the community. Monyu, therefore, is a bridge between the dead and the livings. In the same breath, the event implies the time of romance for the young lovers. The young boys climb up lofty cliff, tall trees and swim across the water bodies looking for orchid, lily etc. to give to their sweethearts.