This festival also marks the arrival of spring and is a great time for couples to get married. This three day event is carried out with great enthusiasm by the entire tribe and is marked by their traditional songs and dance.
Significance of Moatsu Festival The main purpose of the Moastsu Festival is to invoke the blessings of the Almighty after completing a variety of strenuous work. These activities include the repairs and construction of houses by elders of the ‘Putu Mendon’ or village council, marriages in spring, ploughing of old and new ‘jhum kheti’ and lastly, cleaning up the water wells or ‘tsubu’.
Customs of Moatsu Ritual
During the ancient times, the men of the tribe practised competing in making the best rice beer and rearing the best possible pigs and cows to be slaughtered during the Moatsu festival. And the women were tasked with weaving the best traditional garments and adorn themselves with all their finery.
During this festival one of the symbolic celebrations is ‘Sangpangtu’, during this a great bonfire is lit and men and women sit around it. The Ao tribal men and women dress themselves in their best traditional attire and the womenfolk of the community serve the wine and other food items.
Every man is required to wear a new belt, for hanging his ‘dao’. While married men receive this from their wives, the bachelors are presented the belts by their female companions. This is an occasion, when restrictions relating to dress and ornaments are relaxed. Prior to the festival, the ‘Morung’ or the traditional communal house has to be repaired and the dancing drums are also put to order. On the first day of the festival, the younger boys would go to the jungle and collect 6 bundles of paired bamboo strips each, which in turn are handed over to the Morung elders.
On the second day, all the male members engage in clearing the village. On the same night, the cows and pigs are slaughtered for the festival. On the third day the meat is distributed among the boys of the Morung and some portion is kept in order to be given as presents. The boys eat the meat outside the Morung, the elders come into the Morung and are entertained with oriental alcoholic beverage.
The Moatsu festival is one of the popular festivals of Nagaland and is celebrated with much enthusiasm and fervour among the tribal people of Ao.