Post Mortem

Significance of lotha tokhu emong

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/6/2020 12:02:36 PM IST

 Like many Nagas, the Lothas practiced headhunting in the older days. But after the arrival of Christianity, they gave up this practice. Before Christianity came into our land, the Lothas worshipped the God of the Earth and the God of the Sky in the form of religious celebration, festival and feasts. In those days, all religious and cultural rituals were performed under the leadership of the Village Priest. A proclamation of the starting of the festival to the village was done by the village priest.

TOKHU EMONG and PIKHUCHAK are the main festival celebrated amidst much showiness and splendor. TOKHU means feast, taking food and drinks. EMONG means the halt on the appointed time.  The Tokhu Emong is celebrated in the 1st week of November every year and it stretches over to 9 days. It is the harvest festival of the Lothas. With the harvest done and the granaries full, the people now take a respite from the toils and sweat and settle down to enjoy the fruits of one’s hard labour. Prayers were offered to the spirits of the people who had died in the respective year.  And after the declaration of the festival, if a stranger visited the village before the beginning of the festival, he will be given two alternatives as per the traditional customs. Either he leave the village prior to sunset or he stay until the time of the culmination of the festival however, he will be treated with hospitality by the villagers if he decide to stay for the festival.

During this festival, the entire village takes part in the celebration. Every household have food and drinks prepared for the feast. Friends, Families’ neighbors are invited to each other’s house and this continues for 9 days.  The main features of the feast are community songs, dances, feast, fun and frolic. Everyone attire themselves in their beautiful traditional dresses and costumes according to their social status.There is an air of gaiety and light heartedness everywhere and gifts of food and drinks are exchanged during the festival. Among friends, the number of cooked meat given denotes the depth of friendship and ties. It is a festival enjoyed by both the young and the old, praising the gods for their abundant blessings. Tokhu Emong is also a celebration about brotherhood, forgiveness and oneness. It is celebrated through sharing of food, gifts, folklore narration and a sumptuous community feast.

The attributes of the festival does a candid exploration of the Lotha culture and heritage. Tokhu Emong signifies the end of any bitterness and settlement of all problems. It is also a festival of gratitude, sharing and reconciliation but the most beautiful aspect of this festival is that past hostility are forgiven and new ties are formed and bonds of closer intimacy are formed. After the festival, marriages were arranged for the young couples who were engaged during the year. People express the feeling of enthusiasm and exhilaration within them through a feasting that is extravagantly grand in nature. People treat themselves as well as others to this grand and beautiful occasion which is a perfect blend of religion, culture and entertainment.

Lotha Hoho Dimapur

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