SEKRENYI is the premier festival of the Angami tribe and is generally celebrated in the month of February with great pomp and gaiety. “Sekre” literally means “sanctification” while “nyi” stands for festival.
Also called “Phousanyi”, the festival of purification follows a series of rituals that lasts for 10 long days. It begins with ‘Kezie’ rite which means ‘sanctification’ and involves cleansing the house after which, men folk from the oldest to the youngest who is able to understand participates in ‘Sekre’ ritual.
During this period, menfolk go to the village water source to bathe themselves while women were not allowed to draw water from the well set aside for Sekrenyi rites. They also make a new hearth and cook their own food, all untouched by women.
Young men put on two new shawls called ‘Mhoushü’ in white colour and the black ‘Lohe’. They sprinkle water on their breast, knees and on their right arm, the process of which is called "Dzuseva" meaning touching the sleeping water and signifying that all their troubles and misfortunes have been purified by water.
The ceremony of ‘Sekre’ is performed for the main purpose of obtaining strength during war as well as to solicit good fortune during hunting, to gain wisdom and be victorious in Games and to ensure good health for the oncoming year.
Then, begins the ritual of ‘Geizie’ which requires an unblemished rooster with well formed legs, wings and comb. Every male in the household are given roosters of different sizes according to their age and consequently, the roosters are sacrificed.
Related: Thuni: Festival of New Harvest
The third day after ‘Sekre’ comes ‘Theprunhie’ where spears, shields and shawls worn during the ‘Sekre’ period are taken outside the village gate and shaken off as a sign of doing away with any illness and misfortune. This particular ritual completes the act of purification after which the festival is marked by singing and feasting.
‘Thekra hie’, they say is the best part because it involves the young people of the village sitting together, tuning themselves to old folk tunes and feasting on local brew and sumptuous meat.
The men-folk go hunting on the seventh day and is thereafter marked by a more significant ceremony that includes towing of bridge or gate. During the entire process of observing the Festival, no one is allowed to go to the fields and work
These acts of purification are however, not strictly followed in the present day. With the dawn of Christianity, many other tribal festivals have also forgone several rites and rituals that their ancestors rigorously followed in the olden days.
However, few things continue to remain part and parcel of the festivals celebrated in Nagaland. Traditional songs and dances, feasting and other display of cultural items are bound to find space in these rich and colourful festivals.
Related: Easter celebrated in Nagaland
These demonstrations somehow connect the modern Naga to their roots and it is in this manner that a part of their age old traditions, is remembered as well as preserved.