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The Moatsu Mong Festival is celebrated from the first of May to the third of May. It is celebrated in Nagaland, India, which is the northeastern part of India. In particular, there is group of people called the Ao people, and they celebrate the Moatsu Mong Festival with much enthusiasm. The Moatsu Mong Festival is a festival conducted after a long harvest. Once the harvest is over, people relax and enjoy themselves with songs and dances. This is one of the tribal dances that is performed on the Moatsu Mong Festival:
There are several tasks to be completed before the Moatsu Mong Festival can begin. First the harvest has to be taken care of. All the reaping and ploughing of the fields must be finished before the Festival can start. Then the houses of the Elders must be repaired or constructed. The Elders are considered wise and are very much respected by the Ao people. Therefore, repairing the roofs of the Elders is considered a pious deed. Then public areas like the water wells must be cleaned. This is seen as an act that benefits the community.
The Moatsu Mong Festival is mainly a harvest festival, but there are connotations of fertility and how the fertility of the land is important for the harvest. There is a ritual called Sangpangtu, where a large bonfire is lit and men and women gather around the big fire. The men and women wear their best clothes, and are able to mingle about. It’s not unusual to have men and women get married, because there are lots of chances for men and women to meet. There is a dance that young men and women perform together, and it’s thought that the dancing of the men and women will please the gods. Here is a clip of this dance:
The Moatsu Mong Festival is also a time where the young men can have the opportunity to display their bravery and courage. In the past, before the Ao people converted to Christianity, they were a fierce warrior society. The Ao people still sing songs of praise and perform dances that honor this warrior tradition. You can see a clip of a tribal war dance below. In the clip, you’ll se that the young men carry spears and shields, much like their forefathers before the introduction of Christianity. In sum, the Moatsu Mong Festival is a wonderful display of the Ao people and their ancient traditions.