Different harvest festivals are the means of tourism in North East India. Hence many people from across the world and parts of the country choose to spend their holidays in Nagaland and bask in the cultural and natural beauty of Nagaland. The Hornbill festival is one of the grandest festivals celebrated in Nagaland followed by Aoling festival in terms of importance and grandiosity. The Hornbill festival celebrates the cultures of all the seventeen tribes in Nagaland. However, Aoling is celebrated by a single tribe of Nagaland. The festival is celebrated by the Konyak people. The Konyak tribe is the largest of the seventeen tribes dwelling in Nagaland.
The Aoling festival is the biggest festival celebrated in the district of Mon. It signifies the culture of the Konyaks. The festival is celebrated during the first week of April. It also coincides with the start of Konak New Year. It is a harvest festival celebrated by the Konyak Nagas. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring season and the people pray for a good outcome of upcoming harvest. People make sacrifices of animals to appease the Almighty. Aoling is largely celebrated in the Mon district where there is a higher concentration of Konyak people.
History of the Festival
Aoling festival stands among the most popular festivals of Nagaland. The culture of the Konyak tribe differs in many ways. They were known as one of the deadliest head hunters in ancient times. But all the people of the tribe gather together on this very auspicious occasion of Aoling festival as they pray for good upcoming harvest. They have very firm belief on their prayers and consider this festival as a mandatory act. The main purpose of the festival is to forgive each other so that everyone can work together and welcome the oncoming season of spring. Aoling is a time to offer sincere prayers to divine spirits for a good harvest. The people firmly believe in the generosity of the divine spirits who in turn blesses the people and their land. People also make small sacrifices of domestic animals for the respective purpose.
Duration of the Festival
The Aoling festival is celebrated during the first week of April every year. The festival consists of a total of six days. Every day has its own specific name crowned to it.
The period coincides with the New Konyak year. However, dates of each are adjusted so that both the festivals can be celebrated with attentiveness.
Highlights/ Important Rituals of the Festival
- The first three days of the festival are known as Hoi Lah Nyih, Yin Mok Pho Nyih and Mok Shek Nyih. The first three days are very important. People engage in the preparations required for the festival on the first three days. Women weave colourful traditional clothes and animals are sacrificed and delicious meals are prepared for the feast.
- The fourth day of the festival is known as Lingyu Nyih. This is the most important day of the festival. On this very day, people of the tribe wear colourful clothes which symbolize their dedication towards the festival. Women put on their jewelleries and are engaged in entertainment for rest of the day. This day is considered very significant and has grave importance. People dance eagerly. They also sing folk songs with enthusiasm on this day.
- The final two days are known as Lingha Nyih and Lingshan Nyih. These two days are basically spent with the family members of the house and the village is accounted for cleaning.
- Colourful clothes are the main highlight of Aoling festival.
- Dance engages the use of spears and guns and while tribal women dance, men play log drums.
- Many animals such as chickens and other domestic animals are sacrificed for the festival.