Tutsa’s PONGTU Festival

Tutsa’s celebrate two major festivals : “Pongtu Kuh” and “Ronghun Kun”. The “Pongtu Kun” festival is an integral part of the socio cultural life of the Tutsa’s which is celebrated every year in the month of April to get blessings for the tender millet plants in the Jhoom field.

 

Mythological Background

The Tutsa people believe that in old days man and all the animals in the jungle could talk with each other. One day a few people when entered into the forest saw some monkeys(Wish) upon the tree. They were dancing beating a drum (Sam). The people overwhelmingly stared at the unique object and the sound coming out of the drum and at once they decided to snatch the object. It was the beginning of summer; wind was blowing fast. People decided to snatch the drum then and there to dance like the monkeys and to enjoy and they did. It was first snatch by “Kanglom”, the chief. Then they came dancing, beating the drum(they called the monkey drum as “Weihsam”). Since then they are celebrating the “Pongtu Kuh” (PONG-wind, TU-season, KUH-festival) at the same time when they snatched the “Weihsam” from the monkeys.

The date for celebration of the festival is fixed by the village elders. As soon as the date is fixed, villagers start preparation of rice beer, collection of pigs, fawls, purchase of cows, buffalos. The festival continues for ten days immediately after collection of festival materials.

The first day of the festival is called “Hawkjam Leijam”. On this day young boys start for the jungle for collecting firewood and leaves (Kawpatta). Girls may also accompany the boys and there is no any taboo. In the evening they assemble in the house and old people (tekang) perform some religious rites. The Tutsa people call this rite as “Romtam”. The rite is perform by pouring rice beer into the hearth (tongcho) and that particular rice beer should invariably be brewed from rice cultivated in their own field. After “Romtam” all goes to the Lowang’s (chief) house to dance and merry making.

The second day is called “Lomsingsa”. On this day villagers assemble in the chief’s (Lowang) house to perform rites. After the rites they take rice beer, meat, etc. and dance on the bamboo scaffold in front of the chief’s house. This tiime they put on their ceremonial dresses (Pongtu Chom). People who participate in the dance is called “Samwalong”. Just after the dance the Samwalong’s get down to the ground and fire in the air from their muzzle loaded guns. They dance six rounds clockwise on the ground and proceed towards the house of the second chief singing :

 

JA HOI LE

JA HOI LE

ARA WAN SOKTE YA

JA HOI LE

JA HOI LE

AJA HAI JA HOI

AJA HAI JA HOI

 

“We are proceeding in a harmonious way. We are keeping harmony in our feet also. We are proceeding and will proceed”

In the evening villager see omen on their village and agriculture. They see the omen at first in second chief (Yomue Lowang)’s House Omen is by cutting a fowl inside the house. The rite as called by the Tutsa people is “Walatachok”.

 

Then they proceed to the first Lowang’s (Chief) house and will see the same omen. After completion of seeing omen people will take rice beer, meat etc. and dance together for the whole night.

“ Lommat Sa” is the third day of the Tutsa Pongtu festival on which the young boys rushed to the forest early in the morning to collect “ Kikanglak”. (“Kikanglak” is a kind of branch of a jungle grove bearing sufficient inedible fruits). They collect that branch of the grove and bring to their respective houses and keep them carefully with the believe that their paddy will also yield the same bumper fruit like the “Kikanglak”.

During day time the “Samwalong” (dance party) again start dancing after taking meal. They dance nine rounds in the whole village till evening. Then they proceed towards the second Lowang’s house and come back dancing to the first Lowang’s house. By this time the headman of the “Samwalong” (dance party) again perform a rite on the road. He takes some rice powder with three.”Kawpatta” and keep in the middle of the road indicating that nobody is permitted to cross the road during that night.

 

The fourth day of the festival is called “Noktang”. This “Noktang” is the rest day during the festival. Only the villagers take their tamed cows and buffalos home.

 

The fifth day “ Selak Sa”. In this day people from each house will proceed to their agricultural field and collect three millet plants alongwith three numbers of tender arum plants. They carry them to their houses and will mix them with the hairs snatched from the tails of cows and buffalos. They keep all the four items together in the cane haversack where they use to keep their valuables with the believe that it will bring wealth to the house. This particulars rite is called “Romtak”. But it may be stated here that the household who is having fatal accident, thunder or fire accident in the house during the year- they do not perform this rite.

 

During this day people invite each other to have rice beer,meat etc. according to the availability of the articles.

 

The sixth of the festival is called “Lakrikhak Sa”. In this day the uncles tight a wild rope in the cuff of their cousins and bless them for their entire safety and progress. The cousins also rice beer, meat etc. to their uncles specially prepared for them. This rite continues for the whole day.

The seventh day is called “Sephophui Sa”. In this morning of ‘Sephophui Sa’ , after taking meal people proceed to their agricultural field and collect a few selective millet plants destroyed by the pest. They carry them to their respective houses and in the evening they burnt them down with the believe to destroy the entire pests.

The eight day is ‘Sattok Noktong’. During this day nobody is allowed to go out of their houses nor anybody is permitted to enter into the village. The Tutsa people believe that if anybody goes out of their house the number of pest will increase and the rites performed on previous evening ( by burning millet plants) will be in vain. Even the villagers can impose fine to the outgoing or incoming person/persons. The ninth day is called ‘Sukanghat Sa’. In this day villagers visit their agriculture fields and collect a particulars piece of wood (they call ‘Suntamlak’) and being to their house. At night they perform a religious rite on that piece of wood to ward off any natural calamity. If anybody from any household is staying outside their village, they would not perform this rite for fear of not coming back person/persons who are in outside.

 

The tenth day ‘Chamwi Sa’ is the last day of the festival. In this day every male members goes to their paddy field. ‘Phungnu’ is the person who goes at first to the field before sunrise to get blessings to reap bumper harvest by the whole village.

In the evening people come back with their smiling faces to their village and thus the ‘TUTSA-PONGTU-KUH’ COMES TO AN END.