The month of May sees a lot to festivals being played out in different parts the country. One such is the Moatsu Festival, celebrated by the Ao tribe of Nagaland. It’s a 7-day festival, starting from May 1 where the people of the state celebrated the harvest, after the sowing is over.
The tribal people decorate their homes especially for this occasion and come out in large numbers to gather around outdoor fires, to perform traditional songs and dances. The performances are meant to express gratitude to god for helping the crops grow healthy. The custom of setting the big fire is known as Sangpangtu, and there’s loads of authentic food preparations and rice-beer to accompany the celebrations.
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The festival is celebrated in the town of Mokokchung, about 150km away from Kohima. Interestingly, Moatsu Festival starts only after the village gates have been locked so that nobody but the Ao people attend the festival, making it an extra intimate affair. The men and women show their physical prowess by also taking part in a tug of war, whilst singing warrior songs.
The idea behind the celebration is also that it gives the people of the tribe some scope for entertainment after the distressing work of clearing fields, burning jungles or wildernesses and sowing seeds. The highlight of the festival is when the men and women lounge around Sangpangtu – the big fire, adorned in fineries. In fact, the women take extra care to adorn themselves with traditional garments and traditional jewellery. Wine and meat is served while the dancing and merry-making takes place. Additionally, other interesting aspects of this festival are that the marriages that are supposed to take place in the spring season are discussed and a lot of stories are shared by young boys as well as brave and fearless warriors of their ancestors.