TURA, Dec 20 - The 4th annual Nokpante festival concluded at the village of Damas yesterday amidst a promise to work harder on preserving the age-old traditions that come from the Nokpante (Bachelor House). The event was organized by the Damas Youth Forum (DYF), a local NGO from the village in North Garo Hills.
The two-day festival held every year since 2012 aims to promote the Nokpante tradition where Garo bachelors are taught lessons in life-building so that they are ready to face life. The festival celebrates bachelorhood the Garo way, through traditional games, rigorous training as well as a fashion show to showcase traditional wear.
A crowd of more than 6000 were present on the two-day to join in the festivities with members of the GHADC being among those present. Chairman Boston Marak and CEM Denang T Sangma along with the DC of NGH, SC Sadhu were special guests for the event, with local MDC Dolly K Sangma acting as the guest of honour.
�We wanted to promote the traditional Garo way of life and make the Nokpante a popular learning centre once again among the young. This year the lack of funding hit us and we had to cut down on a lot of expenses though the attraction towards the festival has been the same�, said DYF president, Manseng Momin.
The event also saw the holding of traditional dishes some of which made the tasters go red due to its chilliness. The festival also regaled all with a Wangala dance performance by members of the Damas Youth Forum.
Explaining the reason for the festival, Momin said, �The Nokpante has always been a huge attraction to all Garos and is something which needs to be carried forward. It is here that the initial training and groundwork for the Garo way of life takes place and it is here that we learn the traditions of our forefathers�.
The festival included traditional games that are unique to the community like wapong ska, which tests the strength of the contestants as well as their expertise.
Local MDC, Dolly Sangma along with his counterparts later distributed blankets to needy families in an effort to spread some Christmas cheer.
The highlight of the day however was the traditional fashion show for both men and women. Boys dressed themselves as warriors (Matgrik) and the girls in traditional dakmanda vied for the prize of being declared Mr and Ms Nokpante. The winter chill did nothing to dampen the spirits of either the contestants or the people gathered.
The festival concluded with a rock show that included local rock bands Riprap, Patriotic, Resterbrown and Marcus who regaled the whole gathering through their acts.