ALI-AYE LIGANG: FOLK FESTIVAL OF ASSAM

Professor, D.C.B. Girls’ College, Jorhat, Assam

The Ali-aye Ligang is the most popular festival of the Misings. This festival has been celebrated by the Misings from time immemorial. This festival can be called an agricultural as well as cultural festival.

Ali-aye Ligang is derived from three words ‘Ali’ means seeds, ‘Aye’ means fruits and ‘Ligang’ means to sow. Thus it can be simply called the day when the seeds are sowed.


Fagun (February) is the most likeable month of the Misings. Probably this is the month when the nature is at her best. The Mising celebrate this festival on the first Wednesday of the month of Fagun. It is the time of the posowa breeze. Trees are adorned with new leaves. Even the lakes, ponds and rivers wake up to celebrate this festival. The singing of birds greets the people in this season. The winter birds adieu. The Aghon and Puh months pass by with a lot of busy activities in the fields. In these two months the Misings besides harvesting ‘Sali’ crops remain busy in reaping vegetables like potato, ginger etc and crops like lentils. Then comes the month of Magh with new routine and planning. In this month the cultivators and farmers come together to celebrate the Ligang festival. In this get-together they collect the necessary materials for cultivation.

After this get-together the people become busy in their own works. People get ready to sow ‘Ahu’ paddy in their fields. The Mising people go out for fishing and hunting for Ligang celebration. For the festival rice bear pooro apong is prepared in their houses. For Ligang purang apin the household members remain busy in collecting ampi rice, taling or kamro leaves and wild vegetables and leaves. The blossom of simolu brings to the younger folk a lot of enthusiasm. The gumrag dance, riibi gaseng, ege-gasor, gonro ugon, mibu galug, merpung and Murong okum are the symbols of their mirth and happiness.

The head of the family begins the Ligang festival before noon. He performs the rites by taking a spade, four pieces of piiro plant, a bit of paddy seeds, a little amount of cotton, ginger and pooro apong and sow either in a field or in a corner of his yard. After having sown these things on the soil he prays with all his heart with these words- ‘Oh the Ruune pine (creater), Ane Donyi (Mother Sun), Abu Polo (Father Moon), Pedong ane (Rain God),  Among Rutum (Mother Earth), Tapum-tari (insects and worms), Sine Mobo (souls of the dead persons) you all hear- after having remainded you all today. We are sowing our seeds. You all keep away the evil things and give us goodwishes so that we can harvest more than the preceding year. Even the Opan-kipan (poorest of the poor) should be given a handful. Let the coming days be cheerful and happy.’

After the prayer and sowing of seeds are completed Ligang is celebrated in the house. The person who performs the Ligang rites is respected and he is offered the Ligang apong with ngosan-dinsan. He prays for the souls of dead persons and poured apong in the four corners of the fireplace and the remaining apong is taken by him. It is often believed that the Kiine naane (Goddess of Wealth) feels bad when egg and fried things are used in this festival. Before performing these rites no item prepared for Ligang is taken.

There is a saying that by hearing the Gumrag drum and Ligang dance performed by the girls the Mother Earth wakes up. Even the clouds get-together in the sky. The trees and grass respond and give sweet breeze and bring new shoots. The tongi house in the field is also repaired. With this atmosphere the Misings celebrate Ligang from villages to village for five to twelve days.

The Ligang festival comes in time and again goes away. After this celebration the farmers and cultivators once again get busy in their fields. The young and the old people together work hard in their fields with dreams and hope so that the children and family can live happily.

With the change of time the Ali-aye Ligang festival has also undergone some changes. Nowadays hunting and group fishing are not done. Due to the standard of living and unavailability of resources people go to the market for fish and vegetables. We can often see that Ligang conferences and meeting in many places are organised with competitions on Ligang dance and songs. Ligang is celebrated now-a-days in pandals and auditoriums, instead of in the Murongokum.

After the rites, the Gumrag dance starts. The young boys and girls wear colourful dresses and start the Ligang Gumrag with the beats of dumdum (drum), luupi (cymbals) and leenong. There is no question of rich and poor, high and low. The people often forget the troubles and difficulties. They derive sublime happiness by celebrating the Ligang festival. For the Mising community Ali-aye Ligang is like a mirror, loved by everybody. It is hoped that this festival will remain as a symbol of cultural and social integration for all mankind.


About the author: He is a professor of D.C.B. Girls' College, Jorhat, Assam. He is the Ex-GS, Mising Agom Kebang and Editor of AJON, a bi-monthly Mising-Assamese-English magazine.[Read More]

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