Ali Ai Ligang
The Ali Ai Ligang Festival, also known as Ali-Aye-Ligang is celebrated in Assam, India. Most of the tribal festivals celebrated in Assam, are springtime festivals, related to the cultivation or harvest. The Festival of Ali Ai Ligang in Assam is a spring festival celebrated by the Mishing Tribe of people. It especially began with Ahu paddy cultivation. The festival name comprises three terms – Ali, Ai, and Ligang. Let’s know more about it in the account that follows. The state of Assam is a land of fairs and festivals, the majority of which are celebrated with the flavor of brotherhood and harmony.
HISTORY OF ALI AI LIGANG FESTIVAL
The Ali ai Ligang Festival is the most vibrant festival of the Mishing people. The name Ali Ai Ligang is quite meaningful. “Ali” means root and seed, “ai” means fruit, and “Ligang” means to sow. This is the reason why the onset of sowing seeds was marked on this day.
DURATION OF ALI AI LIGANG FESTIVAL
The Ali ai Ligang Festival in Assam is held every year on the first Wednesday of the month of ‘Gimur Polo’ or February (Gregorian calendar). As per the Assamese calendar, it occurs in Fagun month on the first Wednesday. The Ali ai Ligang Festival in Assam is celebrated for 5 consecutive days.
People indulge in sowing paddy as a ceremony. However, activities such as plowing, burning jungles, cutting trees, and fishing are prohibited.
THE TRIBAL DANCE - MOVEMENTS AND STYLE
After the paddy is sown, the festival is marked by Gumraag Soman, a tribal dance performed by youngsters of the community. They groove to the melodious 'oi: nitom' and folk songs. Rapid stepping, hands fluttering, and flinging on the instrumental beats set the festive celebrations on high. The dance rule also demands swinging of hips which reflect the vernal passion and procreative urge along with enjoyment. The dance pays tribute to mother earth for her bounty.
Encircling the house courtyards, the festive dance starts from the village’s easternmost house and proceeds to the field and then to the river.
SONGS AND MUSIC
The songs and music of the festival are enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of age. Song themes are varied that include a man’s life, his life’s sufferings, and eventually death. Love and affection with joy and sorrow are other song themes. Usually, the songs are expressions of everyday experiences of the Misings. Music for these songs as well as beats for the dance are composed by instruments such as cymbal, gungang (gagana), sifung (flutes), gong, and drums.
THE FESTIVE FEAST
The food menu of the festival includes treats like ‘Poro Aapong’ or rice beer, dried fish and Pork is a must. ‘Purang Apin’ (packed boiled rice) is specially prepared by the Misings only for the festival.
Lilen is the last day of the festival, which is celebrated with a lavish community banquet. Several delicacies, especially those cooked with pork meat are savored with homemade Rice wine (Nogin Apong or Poro Apong). A special treat is ‘Purang Apin’ (packed boiled rice), which is cooked with special leaves. This dish is prepared exclusively during this festival.