Kohima: For the first time, residents of Kohima village celebrated ‘Kewhimia Sekrenyi’ collectively, unlike the previous years when each ‘khel’ or clan observed the traditional ‘festival of purification’ individually.
Clad in traditional attires, thousands of residents from Kohima came out to celebrate ‘Sekrenyi’ at Khouchiezie (Kohima local ground) on Saturday under the theme ‘Ramia Therhu’, which translates to ‘villagers’ pride’.
Sekrenyi, also known as ‘Phousanyi’, is the festival of purification and sanctification, celebrated by the Angami Nagas. Kewhimia is the term used to refer to the residents of Kohima village.
Speaking on behalf of all the four ‘khels’, Khruyie Pienyü, chairman of P Khel, mentioned about the purity of the celebration as it was a time to praise God. He asserted on how this festive gathering was organised to glorify, promote and preserve the rich cultural and traditional aspects of the Angami Nagas. He also emphasised on the significance of one’s vernacular language. ‘Tenyidie’ is the dialect spoken by the Angamis.
Dr Neiphi Kire, chairman, Kohima village Council (KVC), addressed on the issue of illegal immigrants seeking the cooperation of the citizens towards preserving one’s homeland. He further added that it was nice to be recognised as the second largest village in Asia but disheartening to be considered the second-most ‘unlivable’ city in India and, therefore, requested the congregation to be responsible and accountable citizens.
Kohima village, the second largest village in Asia, is an Angami Naga village under Kohima district. Locally, the village is known as ‘Bara Basti’, which literally translates to a ‘big village’ and is a conglomeration of four khels (clans) with a decentralised form of local administration under the Kohima Village Council. Located on a high hill, the village is towards the north of Kohima town.
Sekrenyi is the premier festival of the Angami Nagas and is celebrated annually. It is generally observed between the months of December and March and lasts for 10-15 days. It is marked by elaborate rituals and ceremonies.
Sekrenyi is the festival of purifying the body, mind and soul where rituals are performed to cleanse off the past wrongs and sins and further usher in the greater aspirations and purpose in life.
The festival also marks the initiation of the young into adulthood and, therefore, is considered to be the identity hallmark of the Angamis.
However, with the coming of Christianity, the old practices of performing rituals are no longer in practice but the ancestral believe of renewing oneself and one’s relationship with the kinsmen, village and community as a whole was fostered through the festival, which was one of the biggest social gatherings for the particular community.
Celebrated annually, Sekrenyi was earlier celebrated by the whole Angami Nagas on February 25 which also marked the first Sekrenyi Mini Hornbill festival, jointly organised by the Angami Public Organisation (APO) and the government of Nagaland which lasted for three days. Notably, both Sekrenyi Mini Hornbill Festival and Kewhimia Sekrenyi were celebrated in a green manner, adding to the efforts of the state government towards a plastic-free state.