Pfuchazunuo from Kohima village performing a folk song

Kohima: The Angami Nagas, on Friday, celebrated its premier festival–Sekrenyi, also known as ‘Phousanyi’, at the Angami Morung at Kisama Heritage village on Thursday. Sekrenyi is the festival of “purification and sanctification”.

Unlike previous years when the festival was celebrated with thousands in attendance, this year the festival was observed in a small-yet-grand manner. 

Organised by the Angami Youth Organization and its four regional youth units—Northern, Southern, Western and Chakhroma—the celebration was attended by leaders of the tribe’s frontal organisations.

Sekrenyi is the festival of “purification and sanctification” of the body, mind and soul. In the past, rituals would cleanse past wrongs and sins. They would also usher in greater aspirations and purpose in life. The festival also marks the initiation of the young into adulthood. Therefore, it is considered to be the identity hallmark of the Angamis.

Gracing the occasion, Zale Neikha, Adviser of Youth Resources and Sports, urged the need to preserve and protect the tribe’s culture and identity. For the sake of future generations, folk songs and dances must be taught to present generations. “If we do not pass it on, the younger generation will not be able to carry the culture forward,” he said. 

Zale Neikha, adviser YR&S, addressing the gathering. Photo: EastMojo

Despite Christianity, the rich heritage and cultural practices of the Angami Nagas must continue to live on, especially past practices, sid Neikha. He urged all Angamis to unite and encouraged people to uplift and support one another in all walks of life.

As Angami Nagas are blessed to predominantly reside in Kohima—the state’s capital—he challenged the youth to take up entrepreneurial and business activities, as one can no longer rely on government jobs due to the state’s unemployment crisis.

The short formal ceremony concluded with the mass signing of “Ara Kizivi”, a song often sung by the tribe during social and cultural gatherings [similar to an anthem]. Pfuchazünuo from Kohima village enthralled the gathering with a folk song, playing the traditional instrument ‘Tati’.

Speaking to reporters after the formal programme, Dr Vilhusa Seleyi said that with the advancement of civilisation and the advent of Christianity, Sekrenyi is celebrated from a socio-cultural perspective, doing away with the ancient practice of observing rituals.

The tribe must practise the purification and sanctification process. On the first two days of the festival, men must sacrifice a chicken each. The food prepared by men cannot be shared with any other members of the family. Men must also have no physical connection with women to maintain purity.

Like the adults, he said that the minor male members also make a sacrifice on the third day of the festival. On the culmination day of Sekrenyi, he said that the festival’s spirit is ignited, and the community feast begins. While women do not participate in sacrificial rituals, women also purify the body and soul and body during the festivity.

Although such rituals are no longer practised, the tradition of celebrating the festival continues. “Anyone who has no culture cannot prosper. That is one reason why we celebrate Sekrenyi,” he added.

Meanwhile, mini celebrations of the festival were also observed in parts of Kohima and Dimapur by the Angami Nagas.

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