Tokhu Emong festival is one among many popular festivals of Nagaland. It is a very famous harvest festival. Tokhu Emong is the post-harvest festival of the Lotha Nagas. The Lotha tribe is a major and pre-dominant tribe in Nagaland. The festivities are therefore prestigious and no short of grand. It is practiced in parts forming North East India. The attributes of the festival does a candid exploration and exhibition of the Lotha culture and heritage. From a tourism vantage point this color filled festival stands out and grabs hold of visitor’s attention. ‘Tohku’, meaning moving from house to house to collect token and gifts in form of naturals resources and food. However, the meaning of Emong is to put a stop. The prayers of praise are granted to God for his ever-humble blessings. People halt after articulating hard work in their vast lands and fields. This halt comprises of relaxation and pomp. Unified together, people relive the stories of their ancestors in the form of old songs, folk music composed long stretched ages ago and through their traditional style of dancing. The festival have strong tied knots of association with harvest. The festival makes for an interesting tourism destination for holidays during its ongoing feat. It is widely celebrated in Wokha, a village in India.
History of the Festival
Tokhu Emong is the post-harvest festival adhering to the Lotha tribe. The people rejoice during the juncture of the festival and repose after long hours of work splayed in their fields. They celebrate their fortunate harvest. They express the feeling of zeal and exhilaration within them through a feasting that is extravagantly grand in nature. They often offer prayers to God to bring them, their families and land immense joy and prosperity. The festival is also an opportunity for the people to express their gratitude towards each other for dedicating themselves towards hard work every single day in the fields and look after the stable growth of their crops. It is through their combined efforts that they achieve a great harvest. They hence treat themselves as well as others to this grand and beautiful occasion. It is a perfect blend of religion, culture and entertainment.
Duration of the Festival
The time of the festival varied considerably in the earlier days and was not static. Hence, in an approach to build a sense of unity amidst the people a specific date was later affirmed. The 7th of November is celebrated as the start of Tokhu Emong festival. The festival is celebrated for as about long as several nine days. The festival is celebrated every year.
Highlights/ Important Rituals of the Festival
- The village priest goes from door to door collecting tokens of appreciation from each household, other young men follow him. This is usually done before the festival.
- Gracious offerings are made to the Sky God and Earth God who bless their land with favorable winds and make their fields fertile.
- People make generous contributions to ensure a sufficient harvest.
- Any person who fails to contribute is further deemed a beggar.
- Part of the contribution is kept aside for buying a pig and the rest is for preparing rice wine for the entire tribe.
- Visitors to the village are treated with hospitality.
- Prayers are offered to the resting souls belonging to people that have passed away. People who have lost a relative are expected to stay within the premise of the village until the festival ends.
- Wedding ties are forged.
- People feast, dance and sing.
- Any discord among the people is settled and bitterness is vanquished.