Festival of Tiwa Community
15th Feb 2011
These tribes are divided into two main sub-divisions: those who live in the hills and those who live on the plains. The difference is due to terrain and ecology. The Lalung or Tiwa Tribe belongs to a race known as the Bodo. Many legends are surrounding the history of the Lalung, making their origin rather uncertain. It is has been said that their ancestors immigrated from Tibet and followed the path of the Brahmaputra River south into the hills of Assam. Later, perhaps during the mid 1600's, they migrated to the plains.
Festivals constitute a significant part of the culture of the Tiwa people. There are many festivals of Tiwa tribes. Tiwa people celebrate several occasions and festivals. The main festivals of the Tiwa tribes are: Three Bisus (Bihus), Barat Utsava, Sagra Misawa, Wansua ,Jon Bil Mela.
Tiwas of different areas observe Bihu in different days of the week. Though there is similarity with other communities as the main agricultural festivals, in some dance form and rituals the Tiwas bihu is distinctive. Some of the distinctive Bihu features of Tiwas are Boka Nach, Jora Tola ceremony, Bheti Karha ceremony, Gosai Utiowa utsav etc.
Jon Bil Mela:
Jonbeel Mela is one of the most attractive festivals of Assam. Jonbeel Mela is held every year during the winter season at a historic place known as Dayang Belguri at Jonbeel. Jonbeel is like the crescent moon that is why the mela on the side of the bill is named as Jonbeel. Jon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively. It is a 3-day-long community fair held at the weekend of Magh Bihu. This is traditionally the Gobha Haat of barter exchange. On the Jonbeel Mela, a huge market or bazaar is held where the people of different tribes interchange their merchandise with the local people in barter system.
Before the mela takes place, an Agni Puja or fire worship is performed for the well-being of the mankind. The mela starts with community fishing in the Jonbeel wetland. People from the Tiwa community catching fish during the “Community Fishing”. The theme of the mela is harmony and goodwill among the various tribes and communities scattered in the Northeast India. During the mela, the king of the Tiwa tribes popularly known as Govaraja along with his courtiers visits the mela and collects taxes from his subjects. During this festival people from various tribes perform their traditional dance and music and makes the whole atmosphere joyful.
The word Barat originated from Sanskrit word Brata. The meaning of the word Brata is penance observed to satisfy the God. Barat utsav is a community utsav of Tiwa Tribes, which bears a traditional religious-cultural character. Brata festival is celebrated in the full moon day called Purnima of the month of Puha. The festival is observed to make the society free from pestilence, epidemic or aggression of wild animals.
In the beginning of the festival, young people from different villages even from distant areas come to the place of festival with decorated birds of wood and bamboo fixed to a long bamboo or read. Peerajuj is one special feature of the Barat utsav. It is observed in the end of the festival.
Sagra Misawa is a spring festival of Tiwa community. This festival is observed in the month of Fagun. In this festival mainly the bachelors participate. This festival is full of music and dance. It is known that the bachelor’s dormitory Samadai becomes the centre of this festival. This festival starts with worship of Langkhun and Mahadeo with sacrifices of goat, fowl and other birds.
Langkhun puja is devided into two parts. One is observed in Kati (October-November) and the other is observed in Fagun.
In the festivals the Tiwa communities sing two types of songs. These are: