CULTURE - FESTIVALS CELEBRATED IN THE RIVER ISLAND OF MAJULI
ALI AI LIGANG (MISHING)
Among the most widely popular festivals of the Mishings having both religious and secular tone is the one called by them as Ali-Aye-Lrigang, the spring festival observed on the first Wednesday of the month of Phagun at the beginning of the spring season. It is the national festival of the Mishings to be equated with the Bohag Bihu of the others. The term Ali-Aye-Lrigang means the festival of sowing seeds; ali means paddy, seed or root called alu; aye means fruit, and Lrigang means the day of sowing seeds. The entire term means the day of sowing seeds.
On the first Wednesday, the Mishing perform religious ceremonies related to agriculture. Early in the morning the members of a Mishing family go to the field under the leadership of the mother or the head woman of a family who transplants some rice according to their hill practices at the corner of the field. After this they offer their prayers to "guingsomin", "donyi-polo" and then commence cultivation. The festival is celebrated by consuming and offering fish, meat and cake made of bara rice. For that purpose, a fish and meat collection drive is undertaken collectively by the whole village using knifes and other iron and bamboo implements.
Ali Aye Lrigang is popularly called by the non- Mishings as Mishing Bihu. And gumrag, the most distinguished of the dance forms of the Mishings which depicts the various activities in their daily life dominates the whole festival. The movements in this dance enhance the text they accompany.