Nii (Festival) is one of the important social activities for human beings since time immemorial. Festival is a time to celebrate together with the loved ones from far and near. There are some important religious festivals of Poumai Naga. All the festivals involve some religious rites and rituals. However in recent year, the Christians celebrate all kinds of festival without any traditional religious rites and ritual. Some of the important festivals of Poumai Naga tribe are Thounii, Laonii, Paonii, Rounii, Loukanii, Khiinii, Taithounii, Donii, Daonii, Duhnii etc. Most of the festivals are celebrated only in some villages except the Thounii, Laonii and Paonii and Donii, which are celebrated in all the Poumai villages or circles.
ThouniiThounii is one of the most important and biggest festivals of the Poumai Naga tribe. It is celebrate in all the Poumai villages. The word Thounii is probable derived from the word Thouthou that means new paddy. Nii means Feast. It is more appropriate to called as Harvesting festival or Newly harvesting festival. It also can be called as New Year festival since Thou means New and Thounii is celebrated in January. It cannot be called as Seed sowing festival as some of the writers write because seed sowing commence from February or March. The Poumai Masou Me (PMM), the apex body of Poumai community had fixed the 5th January to celebrate Thounii in all the village, town and places where Poumai Nagas are dwelling.18 The Poumai Thounii was first celebrated together from 4-7 January 2002. Around 20,000 Pix 4.5 Traditional Dance Troupe
Poumai Nagas came from different villages (Thounii Celebration 2002)
and towns of Manipur and Nagaland for Thounii celebration. In this Thounii, many cultural dances and folksongs were presented from different villages. Thounii is generally celebrated for five days. The above photos show the traditional dances during the Thounii Festival Celebration in 2002 at Liyai Khullen village. When Thounii is not celebrated coming together all the Poumais in one place, the villagers celebrated in their own villages. They killed buffaloes, cows, pigs, chicken etc and enjoyed with their family members and friends. Breads are also baked and exchanged with their relatives and friends. The young boys and girls go in groups from house to house to taste and collect bread. Lots of rice beers are made on this festival and all the villagers enjoy thoroughly with meat drinks and breads. The villagers made bonfire in the night and they drink, dance, sing, chat, narrated legends and folktale. People with new spirit enjoy the festival with new hope and dream in this festival.
As they enjoy and celebrate the festival, they also cautiously carry out all the religious rites and rituals during the Thounii festival. It is their belief that if they do not carry out the religious rites with reverend and sincerity in this religious festival, they will become poor in New Year. Thounii is the time to celebrate with joy and excitement also the time of religious rites performance to start the New Year and to have good crops in New Year. When the Thounii Festival is finished, the village chief first tills the soil and sow the seed for the heathens while the Christian Priest/Pastor pray and pronounce that all the villagers can starts tilling the soil and sow the seed. Generally, if the villagers want to have new settlement or village, it is after the Thounii they settle down after performing necessary religious rites and rituals.