There is no questioning the nature of popular festivals of Nagaland. They are effortlessly exuberant and inertly extravagant. And Naknyulum falls no short of these factors. Naknyulum is accountably the most important festival celebrated by the Chang Naga tribe, in Nagaland. It is in North East India, where the festival has garnered honourable recognition. The originality and theme of the festival are closely shaped and inspired by the history of native Nagaland. It was originally a religious ceremony to celebrate their deliverance from darkness. As so, it stands today un-wavered as ever as a ceremony that applauds victory of good over evil. It is a symbolic tribute that exercises customary beliefs with regards to their history.
The ancient Chang culture believed that, there were three heavenly gods, each god empowered with their own gifts and blessings. During this festival, people offer prayers and invoke god’s blessings with special rituals.
History of the Festival
The semblance on which the festival has acquired a strong foothold is the history that shapes it.
Per Chang mythology, in ancient times, the world was engulfed by darkness for six consecutive days and nights. People were confined in their own homes as the darkness spread all over them. They burnt everything they had to suffice themselves with light to help in their resolve against darkness. But eventually they ran out of material fuel to keep the fire alight and so they burned the horns of cows, buffaloes and other animals that were hung outside their houses. After the sixth day, a man named ‘Namo Molo’ killed a six-tailed wielding tiger (or in some sources double-tailed tiger) who had been obstructing the light. Despite the engulfing darkness Namo Molo, dauntingly shot down the beast with his bow and arrow.
And in that moment, the void filled darkness burst into daylight.
Duration of the Festival
The Naknyulum festival is celebrated every eleventh month of Chang calendar which is at the end of July. Now, it is officially celebrated on 29th, 30th and 31stJuly.
The period coincides with the first harvest of the season for the year. This specific duration is unequalled and wondrous for flourishingtourism and holidays in Nagaland.
Highlights/ Important Rituals of the Festival
- The first day of the festival is known as ‘Wenshi’. On this day particular, animals such as mithuns and pigs are slaughtered for the feast. Women make steamed biscuits from rice and flour. As a traditional practice, in the Chang Naga Tribe, the priest and aged male members of the village engage themselves in making Yan’s (tops) and Kongkin (mouth flute).
- The second day of this amazing festival is called ‘Youchem’. This day is filled with many games amassing competitions and activities that livens the playful spirit.
- It is believed that the gods during this festival come down to earth to collect yans (tops) and Wei and hence, one pieces each of ‘Wei’ and ‘Yan’ is placed at the entrances of each house for the gods at night.
- The third day of the festival is called ‘Nakseng’. On this final day men beat log drums from dawn till sunrise which indicates their victory against darkness. Old men sit in silence and listen to the chirping birds that bring good omen.
- If it is the aoumeishou -A small bird with blue spots to chirp first, it is considered a good omen.
- During the time of festival, if a guest happens to accidentally visit the home, he/she is expected to come the following year for the Naknyu festival so as to avert ill omens.