The main Tikhir festival is “Tsonglaknyi” celebrated from 9th-12th October every year. The word ‘Tsong’ means ‘Shield’ and ‘Lak’ means ‘Sanctify’. So Tsonglaknyi means Festival of Sanctifying of the Shield. It is also for sanctifying all the weapons and purification of the men folk so that they can be successful in their headhunting (in the earlier days). This festival is observed just before the onset of the harvest.
When almost all the field work has been completed and the Villagers are ready for the harvest by clearing the footh-paths to the fields etc,the Village Chief announces the celebration of the festival three days ahead. In the first two days everyone will go to the field as usual and hurry up with the completion of the harvest preparation. In the evenings, the villagers would gather at the Morung and the young boys as well as the old men would dance and make merry.
On the third day the villagers would go to the fields as usual. The ritual of sanctifying of weapons and purification of the men folk takes place on this night. This evening all the men folk sing and dance continously the whole night. The women folk and children are made to stay back in their houses. At midnight, some warriors are selected and they go to the village water hole or spring for bringing the water. First they select a good bamboo, and one warrior climbs up to the top of this bamboo and bends it down. The others on the ground hold it and another warrior cuts it with a single stroke of his Dao. It is believed that if he doesn’t cut it with a single stroke of his Dao, he will die soon. Three pieces of this bamboo is taken and filled with the water from the spring. These warriors wash their face and hands at this spring. This water is brought to the Morung and tied to the main pillar. Then a cock which crows the best is brought to the Morung. Care is taken that the cock is brought only from a warrior’s house. The cock is then killed by an old warrior by wringing its neck. The dying cock’s spasm is keenly observed. If the cock dies with its last spasm in its left leg or its left leg over its right leg, it is considered to be a bad omen. But if it dies with its last spasm in its right leg or its right leg over its left leg, it is considered a good omen.
The head of the cock is then cut off and its blood collected in a conical shaped banana leaf. ... Every male then dips his right index finger in the blood of the cock. Their finger is then washed with water from the Bamboo. The heart and liver is taken out, mashed and then mixed with the remaining blood of the cock along with the rice of the local rice beer. This mixture is then thrown by the old warrior at the cleaned and lined up shields and spears of all the men folk outside the Morung. If any morsel of this mixture gets stuck to any of the spear, it is believed that the owner of that spear will get an enemy head or kill a big wild animal within that year. ... Then the cock is cooked in the water brought from the spring and the cooked meat is sliced into small pieces and mixed with rice and a handful each is served to all the males in the Morung.
Then on rotational basis all the males go singing to a particular selected house. Rice beer is served and the males drink. A cock is killed and the head of this house sanctifies all his remaining weapons in the house. The cock’s meat is cooked and sliced into small pieces and mixed with rice and a handful each is served to all the gathered males by the head of this house. During this time the females and the children have to stay on their beds. Then they go singing to the next house where the same procedure is followed. This procedure is followed till they visit all the houses in their khel or till morning arrives. The fourth day is observed as a day of rest and feasting. Mithuns and pigs are killed and a great feast is observed at the Morung. On this day all the women and children are allowed to join in the feasting. The whole day is spent in dancing and singing.
From the next day the harvesting starts. For this harvesting period, two warriors in each khel are chosen for guarding the village. These two warriors (each khel) guard the village whereas the villagers go for harvesting their crops. During the whole period of harvesting the villagers give, each day, a slice of meat and basketful of grain to the guards. Only after the others have completed their harvesting, the two guards will harvest their fields with the help of one member each from each house of their khel.
The Tikhir Tribal Council (TTC) and the Tikhir Students’ Union (TSU) jointly calls upon all the Tikhir federating units and villages to observe the festival in the true spirit and invoke God’s Blessing. May this also be a time for all to renew our spirit and open up more friendship with our fellow Naga tribes.
Wishing one and all a “Happy Tsonglaknyi”.
R.Joseph, Vice President (Tikhir Tribal Council),
S.Kiusumong, Literary Secy. (Tikhir Students’ Union).