Golaghat: Sisekpa Tongnam, a festival of the Limboo community which falls on the first day of Sawan (monsoon season), was celebrated across various locations in Assam, Sikkim, and North Bengal. Sisekpa Tongnam is one of the important and distinct festivals of the Limboos. The Limboos are recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in Sikkim and West Bengal. In Assam, the community enjoys OBC status.

Limboo Mahasabha, Assam, is the apex state-wide organisation of the Limboo community engaged in the preservation of their culture, literature and traditions along with ethnic practices. The community has been demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status on the lines of Limboos of Sikkim and Bengal.

Anil Limboo, Working President of Golaghat district, Limboo Mahasabha, Assam told EastMojo, “Sisekpa Tongnam is an important festival of the Limboos falls during the month of Sisekla (mid-July-August) in Yale Tongop (Limboo calendar) or the first day of Sawan month also known as Sawaney Sakranti. It is celebrated by Limboos as the day to end hardship and famine. The mythological connotations of this festival originate from a combination of soybean, maize, cucumber, pumpkin etc.”

The Limboos celebrate Sisekpa Tongnam every year in the belief that their gods visit every household with maize cobs, cucumber, pumpkin, soybean, etc. driving away hunger, hardship and welcoming the Kharif crop harvest season. They decorate the doors with freshly-harvested cucumbers, pumpkins, maize cobs, fruits, flower twigs and climbers, etc with a sling string at the main door or around the dwelling house.

In the evening, the Limboo tribes dance running around inside the house and around outside beating the winnowing basket and shouting ” Ayen ang tho sak yen payro, mangwa cha-thi chase nudhi tya ro” (the days of famine are gone and the days of a bumper harvest of crops have come). Then they pray to Goddess Tagera Niwaphuma through Yuma Sam at Mangdhan and to mythical Sigera Yekthuknama Sigera Yabungkekma for her contribution to agriculture and saving the descendants of Sawa Yethangs from famine, hunger and poverty.

Sawaney Sakranti is also celebrated among the Khas group of the Gorkhas. Man Bahadur Hangam, president of Limbu Language and Culture Development Board, Assam an adjutant organisation of Limboo Mahasabha Assam told EastMojo: “On this auspicious day, the Limboos of Assam wish all the communities a very happy Sisekpa Tongnam. May Tagera Niwaphu Mang take away all our hardship and bless us with abundant food, happiness, prosperity and peace.”

The Khas groups of the Gorkha community celebrate the same festival Sawaney Sakranti with special prayers to mother nature for prosperity. The author and Columnist Bogiram Gorka Bhandari researcher on the Khas community said, “On the Sawaney Sakranti, people take out a procession carrying fire torch with the local medicinal herb to ward off the animals and pests while crying out loud “Dang Dang Raati…Sakranti, Upia Ja Ja… Aija Aija Rupiya,” thus wishing for hardship to end and for prosperity to begin.”

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