SILCHAR, January 1: Zemis, Rongmeis and Longmais who together form a composite tribe of cultural and ethnic distinct identity in the remote mthanluang village in Lakhipur sub division of Cachar are proud of maintaining their ancestral faith despite all the provocations for proselytisation. The 250 year old village with a population of 300 has been known for traditiol religious rites and worships that gives them the strength to live and prosper, pointed out Pou Gaimai Rongmei. In keeping with the changing time, their thrust has been on education for boys and girls and that has brought about 70% literacy. Pou Gaimai is boastful of their own English medium school established in fond memory of their 120 year old gaon burah (village headman) Kalong Rongmei.
Being proud of their indigenous faith and culture, they celebrate the festival of Gaan–Ngai in winter season, added to say Pou Gamai. They have not missed to celebrate it this season also with all fanfare, pomp and gaiety. This is also the occasion to assert their unity and integrity when each of the villager, man and woman, commits to keep alive the tradition with an oblation to Holy wine to God.
It is a religious and cultural festival and this provides the platform to pay homage to the departed souls and giving ritual farewell. Pou Lungrai Pow Raimei added to say the graves are decorated, dances are performed in their honour as well as a feast is given to the community in honour of those who have left for their heavenly abode. The festival is also celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season and worship with gratefulness to God for all the bounty of ture. Importantly, to retain the colour and fervour of their rituals, the feasts being provided to the assembly on all the festival days are traditiol and is relished by one and all. It gives them the sheer joy of going back to their ancestral days.
In order to add gusto to the celebration, as Pou Lungrai said, besides rituals, folk song competition, games and sports among boys and girls are organised. The bonfire on the occasion is believed to kindle new fire and is taken as holy and sublime and each household shares it for their well being and welfare. Moreover, the coming together and forming a synthesis, villagers are in bond with one another to work for shared goal of ensuring peace and harmony in the society. From time immemorial, Gaan Ngai is celebrated between the months of November and December, following the Rongmei lur calendar.
Quite significantly, before the Gaan–Ngai celebration begins, villagers in their austerity and devotion worship their Gods known as Bishnu, Shiluan, Kuaidai, Chonchai, Karenguang, Banthi, Raguang, and Deamai . They have the images of all Gods, but not of Deamai who is worshipped as a God of earthquake. Deamai is worshipped with the belief that the possibility of a quake hitting the village can be averted.