Solung festival of Adi Tribe
The ‘SOLUNG’ is the main socio-religious festival of ‘Adis’ community and is a manifestation of the ‘adis’ festival cult. the Adi or ‘Bangni-Boker lhoba’people are the major collective tribes living in the himalayan hills of ‘Nyingchi’ prefecture. Since, they belonged to all agricultural community, the ‘Solung’ festival is primarily connected with the agricultural activities of the people. The ‘Solung’ of the Adis can be compared with the three Bihus of the Assamese, as they are also socio-religious in nature, which has a close connection with agriculture. Prevalent among the Adi community are various myths, stories, faiths and beliefs about the origin of the ‘Solung’ festival.
Generally, ‘Solung’ is celebrated in the mid-part of the year i.e. the months of August/Semptember corresponding to the Adi months of ‘Tauno’ and ‘Yio’ respectively. However, ‘Solung’ is celebrated on different days of these months depending upon different villages. But, usually the date is fixed by the “Kebang” or the village council depending upon the convenience of the village people. Sometimes, even the ‘Gam’ (headman) can also fixed the date of this festival with the consent of other leaders of the village. Once the date of the festival is fixed, the villagers starts preparing the ‘rice-beer’ or ‘Apong’. Plenty of fresh vegetables are also stored for the occasion.
The ‘Solung’ festival continues for seven days. On the very first day, the famous ‘Indian Bison’ or ‘Mithun’ along with pigs are slaughtered in the wee hours of the morning. In the village, a family can sacrifice both mithun and pig or pig alone depending upon their financial capability. However, on the sacrificial day, no special dinner is offered but ‘Apong’ is prepared in plenty and made available and the meat of the slaughtered animals are preserved for the rest of the days of the festival.
The second day of the ‘Solung’ is generally known as ‘Yegling’. One-third of the preserved meat is distributed among the relatives on this particular day. However, on this day a grand and special dinner is arranged especially for neighbours, women and children. However, ‘Apong’ is prepared on all the days of the Solung festival. On the fourth day of this festival, one of the inmates of the family goes to the field and sacrifices a fowl especially for ‘Kine Nane’. Moreover, a woman or a girl generally offers ‘Etting’ and ‘Apong’ along with the sacrifice for ‘Kine Nane’. This particular day of the festival is called as ‘Oinnyad’.
On the last and on the seventh day of the Solung festival, men assembles at the village dormitory generally known as ‘Mosup’ to make bows and arrows, which are fastened on the doors of every house in the village. This is done in order to resist the evil spirits from entering the houses. This day is known ‘Ekob’. On the tenth day of the festival, villagers collectively uproots the weak, plants of paddy, which are being spoiled by worm and insects and are thrown on a small platform, especially constructed for the purpose, just beside the main path of the village. This act is done to bring to the notice of ‘Kine Nane’ (the Goddess) that the worms and the insects are destroying their paddy crops with the hope that she will drive away the worms and insects out of the fields. This act or process is known as ‘Irni’.
‘Ponung’ is a kind of dance which is always associated and organised with the Solung festival. In other words, it is also known as ‘Solung-Ponung’. The Ponung dance begins on the first day of the Solung festival. Young girls in the age group of 14 to 18 years takes part in the Ponung dance. These girls are generally known as ‘Ponung Bona’ i.e., Ponung dancers. This particular dance is organised and performed in a place called ‘Yingkiong’. From the social point of view, the ‘Solung’ may be called as the ‘festival of refreshment’.
The story goes like this,One of ‘Doying-Bote’ (god of heaven) came in contact with Kine-nane and become sexually excited. When he was about to copulate with her two monsters Totel-Mone and Dubeng-Mone, intervened and snatched off his testicles to destroy it and in the process scattered the divine sperms over different places from some of which sprouted paddy plants. This was found by Kine-nane. Finding human beings starving for want of food, she sent the paddy seeds through a dog. Since then men have been producing paddy in plenty to meet their requirement of feed. Kine-nane asked the men so helped by her to offer Puja in the name of Solung which they were only too willing to do. Kine-name also helped them to acquire Mithun, and pig, the two animals which are sacrificed at the time of Solung. In the Solung they try to propitiate both Doying-Bote and Kine-nane and if they are pleased and satisfied the former will appear in the form of clouds and rains and latter will appear in the form of great fertility of soil. They land together on the surface of the earth where ultimately their union take place. It is believed that their successful union will lead to high yields of crops, more animals like mithun, pigs etc and ultimately wealth and prosperity for men.
Solung celebration continues for five days, first day is called, ‘Solung-Gidi Dogin’ or the day of preparations, second and the main day of the celebration is called Doreph-Long (the day of animal sacrifice), third day is ‘Binnayat Binam’ or worshipping the goddess of plenty and prosperity. Fourth day is Yaktor of Ekoph when the villagers remains busy preparing bows and arrows and other weapons of war. On the fifth day the Miri (religious leader or priest) is given a ceremonial send off when the girl’s sing and dance. During Solung festival, every evening the Miri sings ‘Solung Abung’ and through the song he relates the stories about the origin of man, animals and plants, ancestry of the Adis, lives and deeds of the Adi Heroes. Solung is celebrated in the month of August or September but there is no fixed date for it. Now-a-days in some places, the festival is celebrated with a three day programme. Solung is celebrated to reap a rich harvest after sowing of seeds and transplantation of paddy plants, to raise more mithuns and pigs and also to be free from natural calamities, fire, accidents, diseases etc.
The ‘Solung’ is celebrated throughout the Siang district and also by the Adis inhabiting the Lohit district. The origin of the ‘Solung’ festival is related with a ‘legend’ i.e., the growth of paddy. The legendry narrates that the plant of the paddy originated from the life juice of ‘Yidum-Bote’ (Son of the God of knowledge) and the paddy plant was reared by ‘Kine-nane’ (the Goddess of the underworld). It was believed that a squirrel in the form of messenger of the human beings went to ‘Kine-Nane’ to ask for paddy.
However, the Goddess agreed to supply paddy to man if he sacrifices mithuns and pigs every year. The legend also says that one day ‘Kine-Nane’ caught the wild pig which was chased by man and it went to the region where ‘Kine-Nane’ had put some paddy in the ears of the wild pig. The pig went back to the earth and that is how, men started to cultivate paddy.
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