Assam ethnic group celebrates seed sowing Ali Ai Ligang Festival
The ethnic group of Mishing in Assam celebrated a seed sowing festival in which devotees prayed to God Donyi-Polo (the god of Sun-Moon) for a great harvest.
Called 'Ali Ai Ligang', it is a spring festival associated with agriculture.
A participant said the festival marks the ceremonial start of the paddy sowing.
"The meaning of 'Ali Ai Ligang' is seed sowing festival. The Mishing community people is agrarian class and they depend upon agriculture for living. This is the first community which is welcoming the season," said Haneshwar Panging.
The Mishing community in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh pray to God Donyi-Polo for the development.
"We are praying to the God Donyi- Polo for the development of the society," added Panging.
During the festival celebrations, a small area of land is marked to resemble a cultivation field. The land is ploughed with spade and then seeds are sowed from a basket by the member of the community.
People dance, sing, and feast during the celebrations, and as a mark of honour people offer fish and eggs to the god. The famous traditional 'Gumrag' dance is also performed during the auspicious occasion by people of all ages within the community.
However, people within the community opined that 'Ali Ai Ligang' is slowly disappearing from their society due to impact of westernisation.
"Nowadays 'Ali Ai Ligang' is gradually fading away from the community due to impact of westernisation here. It is now such a situation that it has become difficult to preserve the culture," said a member of the community at the festival, Kanak Chandra Doley.
Being the largest tribal group found in the northeastern provinces of India, members of Mishing community reside in the districts of Dhemaji, North Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat.
(Posted on 21-02-2014)