Feast of Merit at Ungma (Ao Naga village) 1947

The men danced behind the women, in an outer ring, adding their bass to the harsh resonance of the women's voices. It sounded like plain song in a cathedral as the rich song rose and fell.


This account of Feast of Merit at Ungma 1947 is extracted from Mildred Archer’s Diary dated 9th October 1947.

Yesterday we went to a Feast of Merit in Ungma village. It was the third day, the climax of the celebrations, when the mithan is sacrificed at night. We went at dusk, when the clans of the man and his wife, the donors of the mithun, were dancing round and round the massive beast. It was tethered by a great cane halter to a post in the village street, and as the chanting ring proceeded slowly round, it reclined aloof and unconcerned.

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Villagers dressed for a feast of merit and women dancing with daos at a feast of Merit at Ungma

Womens Dance

The decor was like a wild ballet. Against the sombre brown background the women moved vivid and precise in their deep scarlet cloths. As they slowly swayed, shell and cornelian necklaces clashed and brass bells, slung from the shoulder to knee, jangled and tinkled. Scarlet and orange flowers and sprays of gr

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