From a Correspondent
Haflong, Jan 11: The people belonging to Biate community of Dima Hasao celebrated Nulding Kut, the festival of renewal of life, throughout the district with traditional fervour and gaiety on Wednesday.
At Fiangpui near Haflong, the Biate Cultural Organization organized a day-long programme at Fiangpui playground, where T. Ngamlai, Primary Education Officer, NC Hills Autonomous Council, attended as the chief guest while LC Nampui, a retired government official, was the ‘Kut Pa’.
Nulding Kut is one of the many festivals of the Biate tribe which had been celebrated since time immemorial. The important and significant aspect of this festival is that it is regarded as the ‘Festivals of Renewal of Life’ by the Biate people. In the olden days the ancestors used to celebrate this prestigious festival during the early part of January every year on different dates in different villages. The ancient people considered this festival as a symbol for the beginning of a new year. The people observed this remarkable day by offering religious rites followed by social function like performance of cultural dances, singing of folk songs, drinking of liquor (Zu) and merry-making.
People of all ages, especially the women, dress themselves in their colourful customary attire (Nampuan). People also indulge in playing games and sports all day long. People are supposed to forgive and forget their shortcomings, sorrows and discontentment arising out of their past deeds. Hence, the occasion is also regarded as a day of forgiveness (Ngaidamna ni).
Another important feature of this festival is that it was celebrated as a day of prayer led by the village priest (Thiampu). People assemble in one place and pray to God (Puihitm) for forgiveness of their past sins and errors (Siia! neh sin ichai). They also seek blessings from God for prosperity in the coming year. In this way people renew their faith and commitment before God on that day.
Yet another interesting feature of this festival is that the elderly people meet together in the house of the village chief (Siar Kalim) and hold a village durbar meeting (Devan). They sit around a pitcher full of homemade liquor (Zu). They drink the liquor one after another sharing a single bamboo pipe (Thlongthli) while they discuss about their agricultural activities, fishing, art of hunting and the administration of the village. Similarly, the youth of the village also had a field day during this festival. Young men and women are sent outdoors by their parents because of the various programmes and as a result the youths are able to mix-up together and avail a rare opportunity to choose their life partners (Nupui/Pasal).
The day’s programme also included traditional dance, ramp show and showcasing traditional art craft of the Biate community and was followed by a grand feast wherein all the people, irrespective of caste, creed and status, took part. Preservation, conservation and development of tradition and culture were also stressed in the programme.