THE GRAND NEW YEAR FESTIVAL IN JOWAI
If there is one thing distinctive about Jowai town in West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya, it is the celebration of New Year, which is very unique and has an element of oneness of social life. The celebration is community based dated to hundred years back. As many as twenty five to thirty localities within the town, organized the celebration in their respective localities, which is participated by all the members of the community young and old alike.
It is this time of the year that those who are away, feel the sense of belonging to the place, do not want to miss the place and the celebration. It is the time of renewed connection and homecoming event each year. Shri K.L.Tariang a retired I.A.S. Officer who belongs to the place in his letter to the Editor published in The Shillong Times issue of 7th February 2014 under the caption ‘New Year Celebration Jowai Style’ mentioned “…….it has become almost like a tradition for me. So no matter how far away I am from Jowai, I have to be there for the celebration”.
The celebration starts with the New Year’s Eve Bonfire on the night of the 31st December. At evening, the members of the localities called ‘Dong’ or ‘Shnong’ leaving the warmth of their houses thronged in large number to the designated place in their Locality – mostly in the premises of their Community Hall, where the Bonfire is lit, followed by exchange of greetings, songs, dances and other events as programmed. This continues till mid night when some returned home for another session of celebration with family and friends, and planning for the bigger event the next day. Whereas, some linger on for a dose of music and dance till wee hours.
Early morning in the following day, members of the different localities are seen leaving their homes again for the designated place to help in the preparation for the mega Community Feast called ‘Bamboh Kutsnem’. Fund for the feast is raised through households or individual contributions by the members of the Community. The affluent contribute more, and the poorer according to their ability. However, the locality authorities make sure that even those members who are not in a position to contribute also take part in the feast. Late afternoon everyone in their best attires comes out from their houses to take part in the Feast with tasty Jaintia cuisines.
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