Sekrenyi – Looking beyond celebration

Morung Express news
Kohima | February 25

Many of the rituals and practices that accompany the ‘purification’ festival or Sekrenyi, also called Phousanyi of the Angami Nagas are fast ending gradually reducing the festival to mere occasions for feasts and an opportunity to adorn traditional attires.

The significance of the ‘purification’ festival as narrated by elders is however ‘solemn and ritualistic’ following a sequence of events. Dr Vilhusa Seleyi, Advisor, Angami Public Organization during the Sekrenyi 2021 celebration at Angami Ki, Kisama on February 25 narrated that an individual starts his life by ‘purifying’ his body and soul. 

“After 3, 5 or 7 days or any odd days after the birth of a new born, the family members sacrifice a chicken to mark the first Phousanyi or purification of the individual. During the mass Sekrenyi, the second Phousanyi of children who have attained the age of 1 year or little over a year are dedicated, purified and recognized as an individual commissioning their existence as a member of the society,” he stated.

Likewise, a series of rituals and practices to mark the beginning of the New Year are observed during the preliminary celebration and during the festival. For instance, anything which will be used with spoons, plates, meat etc are all purified and the food is cooked separately. 

Whoever celebrates the Sekrenyi solemnly does not physically touch any person nor shares food with any member of the family by entering the kitchen. Only on the second day can one join other family members and people in the community.

Apart from rituals and feasting on meat and rice-beer, another element of the festival throws light on the value and belief system that should be demonstrated in one’s family, social and political life. Dr Vilhusa said, “merry-making and indulgence needs to have a balance and limit” as propagated by elders in the past in one’s footsteps, the indulgence in food and interaction with people in the community. If one fails to balance our practices and beliefs, the blessing from God is lost, he said.

And as strictly abided, one is not to engage in rivalry or hate, the elder said adding that such acts on the festival remains an imprint throughout the year.  He further called for renewed blessing and to reinforce the value system of the Angamis.