|The festival rituals.|
One of the most important festivals of the Ahoms, the name itself is made up three references to different entities!
Me- means offerings, Dam- means ancestors and Phi-means Gods, when put together, it literally means, paying homage to the departed and to the gods.
This festival is celebrated every year on the 31st of January by the Ahoms of the Tai-Shan stock. It is a way of paying respects to their fore-fathers and acknowledge the contribution to the society.
The Ahom faith and tenets as chronicled, suggests that when Lengdon, the God of Heaven sent two of his grandsons, Khunlung and Khunlai to earth by a golden thread; Gasingpha, the God of knowledge advised them (the grandsons) to perform certain rites and rituals during different months of the year and on different occasions. Thus the Ahoms have Umpha, Phuralong, Me-Dam-Me-Phi and Rikhan as festivals that are celebrated on different occasions and during different months of the year.
Deeply entrenched in their customs, Me-Dam-Me-Phi, according to the Ahoms, assumes the most significance, as they believe that a man after his death remains as Dam (ancestor) only for a few days and soon becomes Phi (God). They also believe that the soul of a man, which is immortal unites with the supreme soul that possess the qualities of a spiritual being, and always blesses the family.
So in order to worship the dead, every Ahom family on this day, erects a pillar, called the Damkhuta, on the opposite side of the family kitchen or Borghar, where various offerings are made, like home made wine, ma-prasad, rice and different types of fish and meat preparations. The meat of choice being pork.
Me-Dam-Me-Phi not only reflects the manners an customs of the Ahoms, but also creates an atmosphere of brotherhood and understanding among the new generation.
My earlier post on the Rise and Fall of the Ahom Kingdom - in a nutshell of 10th December 2013, gives a brief account of the genesis and end of the Ahom kingdom, which will give a better understanding of this post!
Till next time!!