Young Mising girls participating in a ‘Gumrag’ dance at Murong Okum in Japorigog area of Guwahati in Assam
Young Mising girls participating in a ‘Gumrag’ dance at Murong Okum in Japorigog area of Guwahati in Assam|EastMojo image
ASSAM

Ali Aye Ligang: Spring festival of song, dance & feasting in Assam

During Ali Aye Ligang, the Mising community of the state celebrates the onset of seed sowing by organising community feasts, singing ‘oi nitoms’ & dancing to ‘gumrag’

Mehzabin Sultana

Guwahati: Ali Aye Ligang, the spring festival of the Mising community of Assam, is being celebrated all over the state on Wednesday. Held on the first Wednesday of the Assamese month of 'Fagun', the festival marks the onset of seed sowing, especially the beginning of the 'Ahu' paddy cultivation.

Earlier, it was celebrated on different days depending on the season. To ensure uniformity, the first Wednesday of ‘Fagun’ month was done. The festival starts with the ‘Juri’ ritual through which the community calls upon the ancestors for a good harvest.

In Guwahati, the nerve centre of Assam's polity and economy, the festival was organised at the 'Murong Okum' (community house) in Japorigog area by the All Guwahati Mising Kebang, a socio-cultural organisation of the community in the city.

The festival is marked by organising a grand community feast with various traditional dishes, especially made with with pork, 'purang apin' (boiled rice wrapped in special leaves, also called ‘tupula bhaat’ in Assamese) and 'poro apong' or 'nogin apong' (types of home-made rice beer unique to the community).

Various pork dishes being prepared at the Murong Okum in Guwahati as part of Ali Aye Ligang festival of the Mising community in Assam
Various pork dishes being prepared at the Murong Okum in Guwahati as part of Ali Aye Ligang festival of the Mising community in Assam EastMojo image
 Community feasting is an integral part of Ali Aye Ligang festival of the Mising community of Assam
Community feasting is an integral part of Ali Aye Ligang festival of the Mising community of Assam EastMojo image

Speaking with EastMojo, Rina Doley, executive member of the All Guwahati Mising Kebang, said, "Every year, we celebrate this festival in the first week of the Assamese month of 'Fagun'. We start our agricultural season only after organising this festival.”

‘Poro Apong’, a unique type of rice beer, being prepared
‘Poro Apong’, a unique type of rice beer, being prepared EastMojo image
‘Poro Apong’ (a type of rice beer) being served to people attending the festival
‘Poro Apong’ (a type of rice beer) being served to people attending the festival EastMojo image

Young and old alike also participate in 'Gumrag Soman' and dance to the tune of folk songs called 'oi nitoms'.

Mising women in their traditional attire performing a ‘Gumrag’ dance
Mising women in their traditional attire performing a ‘Gumrag’ dance EastMojo image

Dr Ruby Doley, a member of the Mising community who attended the festival in Guwahati, said, "Since we are an indigenous community, all our traditions are based on the festival. Ali Aye Ligang is a spring festival which starts with the sowing of the paddy, especially the Ahu variety."

"We are an agricultural community, so we celebrate our festival according to that. And today, we started off the festival with sowing the seeds and a traditional dance of the community," she added.

Ali Aye Ligang is made up of three words -- Ali, meaning legumes; Aye, meaning seed; and Ligang, meaning to sow
Ali Aye Ligang is made up of three words -- Ali, meaning legumes; Aye, meaning seed; and Ligang, meaning to sow EastMojo image

Women belonging to the tribe performed their traditional dance wearing beautiful, hand-woven and colourful Mising 'ege gasor' during the festival. Cultural programmes were also held as part of the festivities.

The name Ali Aye Ligang is made up of three words -- Ali, meaning legumes; Aye, meaning seed; and Ligang, meaning to sow.

Meanwhile, Mising organisations in Assam have been demanding for Ali Aye Ligang to be declared a gazetted holiday in the state.

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