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Tiwa tribe and Wanchuwa festival

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    17th May, 2019

Recently, Tiwa tribesmen took part in a dance during the Wanchuwa festival in Karbi Anglong district of Assam.

Context

Recently, Tiwa tribesmen took part in a dance during the Wanchuwa festival in Karbi Anglong district of Assam.

About

Tiwa tribe:

  • Tiwa also known as Lalung is indigenous community inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya and are also found in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
  • They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the state of Assam. But they still do not benefit the ST status in the state of Meghalaya.
  • They are divided into 2 sub-groups- Hill Tiwa and Plains Tiwa which have contrasting cultural features:
    • Hill Tiwa: They live in the westernmost areas of Karbi Anglong district. They speak a Tibeto-Burman language. In most cases, the husband goes to live in her wife's family settlement (matrilocality), and their children are included in their mother's clan. One-half of them follow their traditional religion. It is based on the worship of local deities. The other half has been converted to Christianity since the 1950s.
    • Plains Tiwa: They live on the flatlands of the Southern bank of the Brahmaputra valley. The vast majority speak Assamese as their mother tongue. Their descent system is patrilineal. Their religion shares many elements with Assamese Hinduism but remains specific.
  • They practice Jhum or shifting cultivation, where the land is first cleared of any vegetation that is later set on fire (slash-and-burn). The result is a more fertile soil that is freshly enriched with potash, all the more useful for a bountiful crop.
  • The main festivals of the Tiwa tribes are: Three Pisu (Bihu), Borot utsav, Sogra phuja, Wanchuwa, Jonbeel Mela, Kabla, Langkhon Phuja and Yangli Phuja.
  • Pig is a staple part of their diet and their culture.

Wanchuwa festival:

  • This festival is celebrated by Tiwa tribesmen to mark their good harvest.
  • It comes with songs, dances, a bunch of rituals and people clad in their native attires.
  • The people of Tiwa tribe associate the bountiful harvest with the higher power from nature. This takes the form of pigs' skulls and bones which act as deities and are preserved through many generations.
  • People do plenty of make up in the form of paste made of rice powder. They participate in dance with this make up.
  • With bamboo sticks in hand, the people proceed to rhythmically beat the rice powder, and occasionally pause to move around the circle.
  • Tiwas pray for a bountiful harvest as well as protection from pests and natural calamities.

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