Rongker festival of Assam
Assam with its many communities is also a place for many festivals. The various communities celebrate different festivals and ceremonies. The main and the biggest festival in Assam is the Bihu and it is Assam's identity in front of the world. It is celebrated by the mainland Assamese people. Also there are many festivals which are celebrated by various communities. One such festival is the Rongker festival.
Rongker festival is celebrated by the Karbi people of Assam. It is a yearly festival and is celebrated to appease the local deities and to ward off evil from their community. It is usually celebrated in the first week of April but different villages may celebrate it in different times according to their convenience.
Various rituals performed during the Rongker festival
This festival is performed only by the men folk and the females are not allowed to take part in them or come near the place of ritual. Also every agricultural activity is stopped during this festival and no one is allowed to leave the village.
The 12 deities are kept in the eastern side of the site and earthen alters are placed along the deities. Although there are 12 deities, only 10 alters are installed as Hemphoo, Mukran and Rasingja are regarded as brothers and sisters.
It is a big festival and lasts for three days. The festival is sub divided into 4 parts- Sadi, Karkli, Rongphu-Rongling-Kangthin and Langhe Rongker.
During Sadi phase all the local deities are worshipped and invited through prayers to their village. Then the Karkli phase is started. The deities are then worshipped by offering food and betel leaves. The main task of worshipping is done by a priest 'Kurusar'. Water is sprinkled with the sacred basil leaves to purify. Sacrifices are made for various deities on the altar 'duwan' except for one deity 'Bamun' who is vegetarian.
The religious specialists 'thek- kere' predict the future of the village by examining the heart and intestines of the sacrificed animals.
On the night of the second day, the Rongphu-Rongling-Kangthin starts. The evil spirits are driven out by dancing and a chicken is sacrificed at the end. The festival ends by the Langhe Rongker part on the third day of the festival. A cock is sacrificed on the altar for appeasing the Gods to prevent tiger attacks.
Nowadays various events are performed during this festival and people from other communities and places come to see these events.