Me-Dam-Me-Phi

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Me-Dam-Me-Phi
DamFi.jpg
Genre Folk
Dates January 31
Frequency annual
Location(s) Assam, India
Patron(s) Ahoms

Me-dam-me-phi is celebrated by the Ahom people on 31 January every year in memory of the departed. It is the manifestation of the concept of ancestor worship that the Ahoms share with other peoples originating from the Tai-Shan stock. It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society.

Etymology[edit]

Me-Dam-Me-Phi is one of the important festivals observed by the Ahoms from very ancient times. The word ‘Me’ means offerings. ‘Dam’ means ancestors and ‘Phi’ means gods. So the word ‘Me-Dam-Me-Phi’ means oblations offered to the dead and sacrifices to gods.

Origin[edit]

The Ahoms have their own tenets and faith. From the Ahom chronicles it can be known that when Lengdon, the God of heaven, sent two of his grandsons Khunlung and Khunlai to earth by a golden chain at that moment Gasingpha, the God of knowledge advised them to perform Umpha, Phuralong, Me-Dam-Me-Phi and Rikhan worships in different months of a year on different occasions. Since that day till now Me-Dam-Me-Phi has been observed by all the Ahoms.

History[edit]

There are several instances of performing this festival by the Ahom Kings. In the Ahom Buranji translated by G.C. Boruah it is mentioned that Suhungmung Dihingia Raja after defeating the Kacharis on the banks of the river Dhansiri in 1563 occupied the whole of the Dhansiri valley along with the northern portion of the Kolong river. As was the prevailing tradition king Suhungmung in order to commemorate this victory performed both the Me-Dam-Me-Phi and Rikhan festival in his capital desiring longevity of him and his subjects. Sukhampha alias Khura Raja realizing danger from the Koches made an alliance with the Koch king and after this successful alliance the king performed Me Dam Me Phi in his capital. King Pratap Singha thrice performed the Me Dam Me Phi festival. First it was performed in 1606 A.D. after the defeat of the Mughals at the confluence of the rivers Kapili and Mora Doiyang. Second time in 1615 A.D. after defeating the Mughals at Agia Bandha. He performed this festival for the third time in order to seek blessings from his ancestors after his defeat at the hands of the Mughals. King Chakradhwaj Singha performed Me Dam Me Phi because suspicion arose in his mind that during his reign the State faced many dangers including loss of many lives in the battles of Hajo and Kan’ at the hands of the Mughals because he did not offer worship to his deceased brother Surampha Bhagaraja.

During the reign of Lakhi Singha when a wooden beam of the royal court suddenly collapsed, astrologers suggested the king, to perform Me Dam Me Phi and the king also did accordingly. King Chandrakanta Singha after the cremation of his brother Kamaleswar Singha at Charaideo under a Nuni tree performed the Sraddha by donating gold and silver to the Brahmins and even performed the Me Dam Me Phi. Thus it is seen that the Ahom kings performed Me Dam Me Phi on many occasions for averting any imminent danger, commemorating victory and desiring longevity of life.

Ceremonies[edit]

When Me-Dam-Me-Phi is observed publicly worship is offered in the name of three gods and they are Me Dam Me Phi, Dam Changphi and Grihadam. God Dam Chao Phi is associated with the belief of some natural powers like creation and destruction, water, lightning and storm, sun, moon, learning, diseases, earth, etc. Worship is done by Ahom priests Deodhai and Bailung by chanting Tai mantras and following the codes (Bidhan) given in the puthis (books) like Phralung and Banfi, etc. God Dam Chang Phi is the ancestor God from sixth to fourteenth generation of a family. Grihadam is also the ancestor God up to fourth generation of a family. Worship to Grihadam is offered in the month of Kati at the time of harvesting new Ahu rice, in the month of Aghon at the time of harvesting new Sali Dhan and at the time of three Bihus.

On the day of Me-Dam Me Phi worship is offered only to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi because they are regarded as gods of heaven. Changphi and Grihadam are not worshipped on that day because they are regarded as earthly gods.

The Ahoms believe that a man after his death remains as ‘Dam’(ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes ‘Phi’ (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. So every Ahom family in order to worship the dead establish a pillar on the opposite side of the kitchen (Barghar) which is called ‘Damkhuta’ where they worship the dead with various offerings like homemade wine, mah-prasad, rice with various items of meat and fish.

Significance[edit]

Me-Dam-Me-Phi not only reflects the manners and customs of the Ahoms but also helps to create unity, feeling of brotherhood and mutual understanding among the new generation.

Me Dam Me Phi and its significance[edit]

Me Dam Me Phi is one of the important festivals observed by the Ahoms from very ancient times. The word ‘Me’ means offerings. ‘Dam’ means ancestors and ‘Phi’ means gods. So the word ‘Me Dam Me Phi’ means oblations offered to the dead and sacrifices to gods. This festival is observed individually by a family and publicly by a king and the general people. Nowadays this festival is observed so extensively by all the people of Assam that it can better be termed as a festival rather than worship.[2]

The Ahoms perform this worship annually in honour of their ancestors. They believe that a man after his death remains as ‘Dam’(ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes ‘Phi’ (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal Unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family.

So every Ahom family in order to worship the dead establish a pillar on the opposite side of the kitchen (Barghar) which is called ‘Damkhuta’ where they worship the dead with various offerings like homemade wine, mah-prasad, rice with various items of meat and fish. The Ahom kings performed this worship after victory in wars and to ward off any imminent danger of the State.

The Ahoms had their own tenets and faith. From the Ahom chronicles it can be known that when Lengdan (Indra), the God of heaven, sent two of his grandsons Khunlung and Khunlai to earth by a golden chain at that moment Gasingpha, the God of knowledge advised them to perform Umpha, Phuralong, Medam Me Phi and Rikhan worships in different months of a year on different occasions. Since that day till now Me Dam Me Phi has been observed by all the Ahoms.

When Me Dam Me Phi is observed publicly worship is offered in the name of three gods and they are Me Dam Me Phi, Dam Changphi and Grihadam. God Dam Chao Phi is associated with the belief of some natural powers like creation and destruction, water, lightning and storm, sun, moon, learning, diseases, earth, etc.

Worship is done by Ahom priests Deodhai and Bailung by chanting Tai mantras and following the codes (Bidhan) given in the puthis (books) like Phralung and Banfi, etc. God Dam Chang Phi is the ancestor God from sixth to fourteenth generation of a family. Grihadam is also the ancestor God up to fourth generation of a family. Worship to Grihadam is offered in the month of Kati at the time of harvesting new Ahu rice, in the month of Aghon at the time of harvesting new Sali Dhan and at the time of three Bihus.

On the day of Me Dam Me Phi worship is offered only to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi because they are regarded as gods of heaven. Changphi and Grihadam are not worshipped on that day because they are regarded as earthly gods.

There are several instances of performing this festival by the Ahom kings. In the Ahom Buranji translated by G.C. Boruah it is mentioned that Suhungmung Dihingia Raja after defeating the Kacharis on the banks of the river Dhansiri in 1563 occupied the whole of the Dhansiri valley along with the northern portion of the Kolong river.

As was the prevailing tradition king Suhungmung in order to commemorate this victory performed both the Me Dam Me Phi and Rikhan festival in his capital desiring longevity of him and his subjects. Sukhampha alias Khura Raja realizing danger from the Koches made an alliance with the Koch king and after this successful alliance the king performed Me Dam Me Phi in his capital.

King Pratap Singha thrice performed the Me Dam Me Phi festival. First it was performed in 1606 A.D. after the defeat of the Muslims at the confluence of the rivers Kapili and Mora Doiyang. Second time in 1615 A.D. after defeating the Muslims at Agia Bandha. He performed this festival for the third time in order to seek blessings from his ancestors after his defeat at the hands of the Mughals.

King Chakradhaj Singha performed Me Dani Me Phi because suspicion arose in his mind that during his reign the State faced many dangers including loss of many lives in the battles of Hajo and Kan’ at the hands of the Mughals because he did not offer worship to his deceased brother Surampha Bhagaraja.

During the reign of Lakhi Singha when a wooden beam of the royal court suddenly collapsed, astrologers suggested the king, to perform Me Dam Me Phi and the king also did accordingly.

King Chandrakanta Singha after the cremation of his brother Kamaleswar Singha at Charaideo under a Nuni tree per-formed the Sraddha by donating gold and silver to the Brahmins and even performed the Me Dam Me Phi.

Thus it is seen that the Ahom kings performed Me Dam Me Phi on many occasions for averting any imminent danger, commemorating victory and desiring longevity of life. This festival not only reflects the manners and customs of the Ahoms but also helps to create unity, feeling of brotherhood and mutual understanding among the new generation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Meet the Axomiya Sikhs". The Tribune. Chandigarh. 24 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Me-Dam-Me-Phi celebrated by Ahom people". AssamClicks.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04. 

External links[edit]