Rites of Passage in North East India

Rites of Passage in North East IndiaBy K. Nipuni Mao

About the Book:
North East India has always been known as a land with diverse and rich cultures. These cultures though similar in many aspects also have their own distinct rites and rituals which are performed when an indigenous moves from one stage in life to another. Rites of passage are life-cycle rituals that are performed for individuals at the time of birth, naming of a child, the passage of an individual from the stage of adolescence to adulthood, marriage and death.

This volume is a study of the rites of passage of a few communities taken from all of the eight North Eastern states. Though most of the rites performed by these communities may be similar in certain aspects, they also have their own unique features and characteristics. Some communities engage priests to conduct these rites while others are performed by an elder member of the family. These rites usually involve propitiation of good and evil spirits which in most cases includes sacrificial offerings. These are sometimes followed by certain observations or restrictions that the concerned individuals or family needs to observe. There are also rituals that are performed as thanksgiving at the time of a patient’s recovery or a bountiful harvest. Apart from these rites of passage, certain agrarian based rituals are also performed by these communities at the time of selecting a plot for jhumming, sowing of seeds, transplanting or at the end of the harvest season. These rites and rituals vary from the ordinary to the extremely bizarre and sometimes end with festivity.

Though the North East may be a land of diverse and unique cultures many of these are soon disappearing due to the fact that most of these tribal cultures follow an oral tradition and do not have a written script to preserve their age old traditions. They have also faced the onslaught of globalisation, modernisation and materialism. The spread of Christianity among tribal communities of the region has also led to the decline of practitioners of indigenous culture and tradition.

The book is an attempt to document the ‘Rites of Passage’ of these traditional indigenous communities and to bring out the intricate details of these practices that are still followed by the tribes of the region. This volume will be useful to the students, researchers and other readers who have an interest in the subject. The author has made an attempt to bring to light the rites of passage in the tribal communities of this region. There are still many aspects which have not been touched and communities that have not been studies. Further research and comprehensive study is essential.

About the Author:
Mr. K. Nipuni Mao is the youngest son of Shr. H. Kaisi and Mrs. A Nina. He is a resident of Senapati, Manipur. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D in the Department of Cultural and Creative Studies, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Meghalaya.

ISBN: 81-85-408-00-51
Publisher: Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC)
Year: 2010
Pages: 260

Price: INR 210

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