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Tokhu Emong is a festival celebrated by the Lotha nagas. The Lothas are one of the major tribes in Nagaland. It is also called post harvest festival.
Tokhu means going out in groups from house to house, taking food and drinks. Emomg means the Halt on the appointed time. The people rejuvenate themselves after a tremendous hard work on the fields and celebrate this post harvesting festival by making merry and rejoicing. Tokhu Emong is celebrated in the first week of November every year and it lasts for 9 days.This festival is associated with the harvesting of crops.It is also accompanied by folk dances and singing of old folk songs. It is a festival enjoyed by both the young and the old, praising the God's 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.
Custom and Rituals
A proclamation of the starting of the festival to the villagers is done by the village priest. He goes from door-to door of the village with a basket for the collection of edibles that may consist of rice, vegetables, fruits, etc. and for this purpose Yingae or supporters accompany him. This collection is done prior to the festival as an offering to the Limha Potsow Ha Oyak Potsow that means God Earth and God Sky. The priest takes a small quantity of the contribution and after offering prayers he puts it into his basket. It is customary for the villagers to contribute liberally as it is believed that more contribution facilitates more crops during cultivation. A person is said to call a bad curse and expected to spend a beggar’s life if reluctant to do such contributions.
A fraction of this gathering is used to buy a pig and the rest is kept for making rice-beer. With the help of a bamboo spear a perforation is made on the pig’s heart and the abdomen is sliced open to interpret the prophecy. The destiny of the village is declared by the priest formally after a deep assessment. The pig is then cut into small portions and distributed to every house of the village.
If any stranger by chance visits the village before the beginning of the festival he is given two alternatives. Either he leaves the village prior to sunset or he stays until the time of culmination of the festival. He is entitled to get a nice treatment by the villagers.
Prayers are offered to the spirits of the people who had died in the respective year. It is customary for the family who lost any member during the year to stay in the village until the last rituals are performed.
Tokhu Emong signifies the end of any bitterness and settlement of all problems and is a festival of gratitude. Intimacy is observed by forming new ties. The people get properly dressed by wearing their conventional dresses. The wells of the villages are cleaned and the houses are repaired as well.
Marriages are arranged for young males and females after the festival who gets engaged during the year. Preparation of scrumptious dishes are done and shared by the people that are followed by dancing and singing. Exchange of gifts is also done.
Time To Celebrate
It was celebrated from the first of November till the 9th day. The date of the festival was not fixed earlier but later a common date for celebration was set by Wokha elders in order to strengthen unity among the community members. Every year the celebration of nine day long festival starts from November 7. Recently Nagaland Government has set a date on Nagaland Government calendar as restricted holidays for Lothas Tribe only on the 6th and 7th of November.
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