EVENING STAR (BIGGEST STAR IS JANGBERU’S MUKJI – MEANS EYES)
The following is the prophecy of our fore fathers. If the biggest star in heaven is seen just above our land, that particularly year there would be a plentiful and bountiful crop harvest and people won’t go hungry. But, if the biggest star was to be seen on the western side, then the prophecy was that others would reap better harvest and also that particular year people would experience a famine.
The reason for calling the biggest star as “Jangberu Mukji” (women of Jangberu clan) were physically tall, sturdy and beautiful women than women of other clans.
(KHIUNGPUH) – ie, the priest of the village would collect a basket called (KHI-DUH) of rice from every member of the village for purchasing a big male pig. The pig is then carried by selected male members to the spot where bridge is to be constructed. Two fire places would be set up for cooking the pig’s flesh and intestines separately. The cooked flesh is consumed by the villagers while the cooked intestines are eaten by the workers. While the pig’s flesh is being cooked the villagers would go to forest and cut down trees required for the construction of the bridge. After the feast only, the construction work begins. After completion of the construction, more trees are cut down and the route/way to the bridge is closed for traffic for other clans’ men and women except for women of Jangberu clan who were allowed to cross the bridge. Men and women of other clan were made to cross to the other side through the river.
The prophecy or belief to this is that by letting Jangberu women cross the bridge first would mean plentiful and bountiful crop harvest in the year and especially corns would bear long and bountiful corn for harvest. Therefore the prophecy of the evening star or the star of the Jangberu clan women were believed and accepted by our fore fathers since time immemorial.
The following methods were followed while planting millets (TANJI) by our fore fathers. The field was first cleaned of grass, shrub and weeds. After 9(nine) days from cleaning of the field, the seeding of millet or (TANJI) would begin sowing in the field. The field would then be cleaned from time to time of weeds, grass and shrubs till it is time for harvest. Normally not much time (many months) would be required to grow and harvest millets.
When harvest time approaches, (KHIUNGPUH) ie, the village priest would be the first to harvest the millets in small quantity and bring it to the village before any one does. If the saying or process were to be broken, it would be a Taboo for the people. The village priest would then announce to the whole village to observe Holiday- (AMU-KHI) on a particular day. On the Holiday- day- (AMU-NIMUNG) the village priest would first cook and consume the harvested millet and then announce once again that he had already dedicated the millet harvest so that the whole villagers can now begin full harvest of the millets from their fields.
This saying and procedure for planting and harvest of millets were observed by our fore fathers since time immemorial.
FISH TRAPPING: (KHEAP) – SAYINGS
Fish trapping (kheap) have been practiced by the Yimchungers since past ages. For this purpose, the whole village participate in case of small village/s. For large and big village/s, khels (kheang) or cluster of families, clan or group of people use to set traps for fishes. It is a traditional method of trapping fishes in the river/s. This practice is being followed by the community till today. A sort of strong fencing is constructed across the river by using freshly cut trees, bamboo and leaves of trees, banana and other plants. Many baskets are placed behind the fencing by tying it firmly for fishes to be trapped/caught. Some sort of ritual is followed if abundant fishes are to be caught. The following methods and procedure were followed while setting up fish traps (Kheap).
On the first day of setting up the fish trap, the trappers would go to the river spot where the trap is proposed to be set up. The wood, bamboo and vine rope materials required for construction is cut down and brought from the adjacent sites of the proposed fish trap/s. The above materials are never cut and brought from other places or spot. It is said that the knife strokes while cutting the woods and bamboo should be clean, even and sharp. It is believed that the trap should fetch abundant fishes. But, if the strokes are blunt and uneven, it is believed that the fish catch would not be much to the satisfaction. If one is satisfied for setting up the trap on a particular spot, then the process of the construction begin.
After the fish trap is completed, trappers would cut a boiled egg into three equal pieces and place it on a pole that is placed in the centre of the fish trap in the river. After three days the trappers would go to see the egg – whether it has disappeared or still hanging there on the pole. If the eggs had disappeared then it would be inferred that there would be a good catch of fishes in the trap; and if the eggs are still seen hanging then it would be presumed and mean that the catch/trapping would not be much.
It is said and believed that while going to the river for setting up of fish trap/s, trappers would maintain complete silence. No one should speak to each other nor say anything. Each one would go silently to the spot and even while construction is going on, speaking was ‘taboo”- complete and total silence was maintained. Even after completion of construction of fish trap/s, while returning to their respective homes, total silence was observed.
The first catch in the trap would be eaten along with green vegetables. Thereafter, in case of no further catch of fishes in the trap/s, the whole villagers would observe a certain ritual. The whole village would observe ‘day of rest’- (amu khi) in Yimchunger dialect. Total abstinence from doing any work, under take journey or even move out of village; forbid entry of guest/s into the village was practiced.
Next day early in the morning, at the first cock crow, two persons would go out of the village and proceed for the river towards the fish trap/s. After reaching the spot, whatever fishes are caught in the trap is collected and cut into two pieces each. The bottom halves are placed on a banana leave that is cut into three pieces which is then folded and further put into a fresh hollow bamboo. The folder containing the pieces of fish is then placed on ‘wuntsan’ – the front roof of the small hut constructed on the river bank where the fishes trapped are taken for storing/drying.
The upper halves of the fishes are mixed thoroughly by adding salt, chilly, ginger and then place it on banana leave. Two stone pieces are then tied to it and placed on the soil near the hut by uttering the word ‘khiu mok’. They then wait the whole day at the trap and leave for village after (kimtap) – means after the whole villagers have left for their homes in the village after the day’s work. The duo also leaves the spot for their village maintaining complete silence.
After completion of three days, they would again go to the fish trap to inspect whether fishes have been trapped. It is believed that if they have appeased the river gods and had received their favour (arung samdo), plenty of fishes would be caught. Whereas, if no fishes have been trapped, it would mean that they had not pleased and appeased the river gods (marung sam)
In case of plentiful fishes trapped, the trap setters would go early in the morning, bring the fishes to the village and then consume it; after which they would set out for their fields for work. This continued as long as fishes were caught in the traps. Once there would be no fishes in the trap/s for days together, the trap setters would discontinue thereafter and attend to other works. The same process and procedure would be adopted the succeeding year/s when the season for fish trapping arrives.