Celebration of Garo Traditional Festival Wangala 2019: a showcase of culture and heritage
The Wangala festival is a traditional carnival for the Garo community to thank the Almighty Misi Saljong as Pattigipa Ra’rongipa, the Sun God, for blessing the people with a rich harvest. Thousands of years ago, the Garos believed that fruits and roots collected from the jungle were their main food, as they did not have seeds to grow plants. One day they prayed to their God for seeds and the next day they found two types of paddy. They preserved those and started cultivating on the hills. After harvest, they used to thank God first and then consumed the rice and celebrated the occasion. Now, the Garos, who are converted Christians, used to thank Christ after the harvesting. Garo people are dependents of agro-economy and do not use any agricultural products before thanking God of fertility, Misi-Saaljong. People celebrate this festival with dancing, drinking chu, singing for three days & nights. The Wangala festival is a grand Carnival to celebrate the harvest season because after years the people find relief in seeing the golden harvest. Thus prayer is offered to the God for providing crops and sing and dance to offer worship to the great deity.
Wangala Festival signifies the beginning of winter and also marks the end of labor in fields ushering in a period of relaxation and merry making.
There are two basic stages to the Wangala festival: Chu-Rugala-The Pouring of rice beer, is the first stage and is done by the priest, known as “Kamal” and the Chachat Soa-Incense burning, is the second stage. At Rugala, an offering of the first-hand special rice beer, cooked rice and vegetables are offered to the Giver, Misi Saljong.
The Nokma or the village Chief performs the Chachat Soa ceremony (marked by burning of incense) at the central pillar of his house to mark the beginning of the Wangala Festival. This ceremony starts in the Nokma’s house where the sacred drum is kept. Rice is scattered all over the house symbolizing the rain and hail, the sowing season. Then incense is brunt and the smoke symbolizes the rain clouds. Throughout the ceremony drums and gongs (rang) are played. A meal is served followed by dancing in the Nokmas house which continues in the village throughout the night.
Dama Gogata, the dance with drums, flutes and assorted brass instruments by men and women in colourful dresses and proud headgear, a picture which is synonymous with visuals of Wangala – is performed on the last day of the three days-long celebration.
During Wangala, people young and old dress in their colourful garments (Dakmanda”, Daksari, or Gando) and feathered headgear (do’me) and dance to music played on long, oval-shaped drums (Dama).
They performed their traditional dances, including Gorirua, Grikka, Nanggory, Dellang Mangpina, Amak Balanga Malla, Serenging and Bi Sa Dimdima dances on the stage.
Rugala (lit. The Pouring of rice beer) and Cha·chat So·a (lit. Incense burning) are the rituals performed on the first day by the priest, who is known as “Kamal”. These rituals are performed inside the house of the Nokma (chieftain i.e. the husband of the woman who holds power over an a’king) of the village. Dama Gogata, the dance with drums, flutes and assorted brass instruments by men and women in colourful dresses and proud headgear – a picture which is synonymous with visuals of Wangala – is performed on the last day of the days-long celebration.
Katta Doka (talking in a singing style/traditional tribal rapping), Ajia, Dani Doka (describing Wangala by singing), Chambil Mesaa or the Pomelo Dance are performed during these days.