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YEMSHE - POCHURY TRIBE

October is the month of festivity which every Pochury anxiously awaits, every year to celebrate their greatest festival Yemshe. Yemshe is the festival of welcoming the new harvest and blessing. All the Pochuries, young and old, rich and poor, celebrate this festival with great pomp and gaiety anticipating a good harvest which they deserve after a year ‘shard labor under scorching sun and merciless rain. No one is allowed to harvest until the whole period of festival is over.

Originally, the festival commenced from the last part of September with different categories of observances till the final day which falls in the first week of October every year. Yemshe is observed only on the 5th October keeping in tune with the final days of the traditional observance of the festival.

When the time approaches, the Village Spokesman announces the arrival of Yemshe. The very next day the festivities begin with the observance of the first part of rituals.

Preparations are made. The Youth of the Village clean the whole village, footpaths, wells and fields and construct Basket making-cum-Resting Places. After that the head of the family performs all rituals. Necessary materials used in rituals are fastened to the main post of the front house. Engaged couples will renew their relationship with exchange of food or wine and eat together. Many young couples come to know each other and get engaged during this period. As such, this festival is important and enjoyable particularly to young people and farmers in general. This is known as the Big Yemshe.

The small Yemshe, like big Yemshe, is also celebrated with rituals. For sanctification of the House, a ritual feast has to be hosted by a rich family. All the villagers observe the period with great solemnity till the end of the period.

The family who host the Sanctification Feast has to fulfill the following conditions before the feast day:

•The family who host the Sanctification Feast will have to provide wine to all families of the village.

•The family will have to host a dance party of his (head of the family) age-group, men and women in the village and in Khel wise as well. Feast will be given to the dancers, and meat will be distributed to all his age-group friends.

•Cutting of Bamboo Mugs will be held twice. All the host's clansmen/nephews will make new bamboo mugs. They will take wine from these mugs which will be kept with the host. Also the old mugs will be collected from every house and kept in the host's family for drinking wine.

•Only paddy rice will be arranged (not millet, maize etc.) and distribute it to all the houses by the host and later the cooked rice will be again collected and redistributed to all the families in the village.

•All the clansmen will take one Mithun and a Chicken to a river on the, way to the jhum field and feast. They will construct a Resting Shed there for the host of the Sanctification Feast. It is believed that in the second life, those who have not hosted the Sanctification Feast cannot sigh with a deep breath as 'ewhi', but can only say 'Korowhi' and those who have not performed the Resting Shed Feast they can only say 'owhi'.

•For reserving of frogs, one axe each for three rivers is given to the villagers, as frogs in these three rivers are reserved. This will be followed by giving out a big feast to all the village elders. After that it will be announced in the village that frogs are reserved by the host of Sanctification or Yemshe Festival and no other should go to these rivers to catch it.

•After wine and food is arranged, the master of the festival will ask his villagers to fetch himpine-wood and he will give a big feast to his villagers. Men will take 6 pieces of meat while women will take only 5 pieces.

•All the clansmen will carry well-prepared food and wine and go to the reserved rivers and make bridges/ladders for frog catchers to enable them to go to any part of the river. At the same time, they shall eat and drink and enjoy themselves. This is a part of many games they play.

•A chicken will be kept in a cage on a selected tree on the way to the field. After that a selected group will go to that spot with dried frogs where chicken was kept and have a feast there. Every household have to perform this. Even the poorest family has to perform this ritual by roasting brinjal as the substitute of frogs and chicken.

•It is traditionally believed that the most fertile lands were under the control of devils. Sacrificial acts also therefore have to be performed according to the fertility of the land. For the most fertile land a Mithun has to be sacrificed, then a pig and for the less fertile land a chicken has to be sacrificed in the field. Two big gourds of wine will be carried, one for halfway and the other for sacrificial consumption. While coming back from their field a particular group will not mingle with another group. So, a Mithun group, Pig group and Chicken group shall come back separately. Likewise, wine also will be taken separately.

After all the arrangements like collection of green vegetables, meat etc. and performances of rituals are completed, the master will select six supervisors; two for washing ginger, four to supervise the butchers for preparation of the feast for the whole village. All young and old will come and help the host in preparation of the feast. In this feast, Mithun, Pigs and Chicken will be slaughtered. If there is no Mithun three pigs will substitute a Mithun. Womenfolk will pound rice and cook, while the men folk will be busy for cutting of the meat, and other difficult jobs. By sundown, all villagers, from youngest to the oldest, will come together to attend the great feast.

Few quantities of all sorts of foodstuff and rice grains shall be shared and offered to the dead souls as farewell gifts and greetings of the Yemshe Feast.

The last day of the feast will be impressively observed as the Feast Cleansing Day. All will remain at home and no one will do anything, neither goes on journey nor anywhere. From the very next day all types of harvest and collection of house construction materials etc. will begin as the happiest moment for the farmers has come with the blessings of God.