The celebration of Ali-Aye-Ligang
Our state, Assam is a diverse one with so many tribes living together. One such tribe is Mising and I belong to Mising tribe. We speak differently from the Assamese but we love all the tribes, rest assured no bad blood with any of the other tribes.
And we love our festivals where feasts are grand and pork is served everywhere. Pork dishes and Rice Wine are the main important things that mostly defines our tribe when it comes to cuisine.
When spring comes every year, we get to celebrate the biggest festival of the year that is the Ali-Aye-Ligang.
The most popular and favorite festival of Mising people. We wait for a whole year to get our hands on Purang Apin, varieties of pork dishes made with home grown or wild plants (eatable). Need I need to say, it’s the feast of all feasts. Once you have experienced it you will know for sure why we love it so much.
Ali-aye-ligang marks the beginning of sowing seeds in the rice fields and is associated with agriculture. After completion of sowing seeds and prayers for a good reap it is customary for our people to celebrate with a grand feast.
When is it celebrated?
Ligang is celebrated in the month of February every year. The date varies as we follow the Assamese calendar and it is celebrated on the first Wednesday of ‘Gimur Polo’ or on the first Wednesday of the month of Fagun (Assamese calendar). The festival lasts for 5 days.
What do we do in Ali-Aye-Ligang?
Ligang is not only about a big feast, the day start with sowing seeds, and following rules of not ploughing or cutting trees throughout the festival. The young and adults performs Gumrag Soman (traditional mising dance) in every house of the community giving them blessings for a prosperous year. And the festival ends with hosting big feasts in mising homes where they invite their families and friends.
What do we eat in Ali-Aye-Ligang?
As I have mentioned before, it is the feast of all feasts, and we love to prepare various food items which is only made in this special occasion.
Purang Apin is boiled sticky rice which is wrapped first with Torapat and is boiled in water. The wrapping of sticky rice begins in the morning, and there is art in wrapping. It consumes a great amount of time in wrapping hundreds of these. After it is boiled, it is ready to be served with the various pork dishes.
Main Pork Dishes cooked in Ligang
Pork with Lai Pat
Pork with Matimah
Pork with Mesaki pat
Pork with Pitha
Khorikat diya Pork
Pork with Elephant Apple
Apong is an integral part of our community. Most of our grandparents prefer to drink Apong instead of tea in morning or evening.
And for Ali-aye-Ligang, Apong is prepared months before the festival. Be it Poro apong (Black wine) or Nogin apong (White wine), a Festival or a Feast in Mising Community is only called successful when there is plenty of good homemade rice wine. Now you have a fair idea how much we love our home made wine.
Every young girl or a boy in the community yearns for the Gumrag Soman where they can show their talents in dancing or playing instruments. Much like Bihu (Assamese), we dance to the tune of folks songs and Oi:nitom, using instruments like Dhol, Pepa, Taal, Bahi, etc.
The Mising dance forms imitates life itself. The themes and subjects are mostly about the day-to-day activities in the life of men and women in the community. From washing clothes, daily chores, sowing seeds in a field to reaping them, you will get a very vivid image of lives of Mising people when you watch Gumrag.
My first Gumrag Soman
I remember my first ‘Gumrag Sonan’ back at my Grandparents village in Jonai. My two Pehis (my father’s sister) insisted I join them. I wore a Green Ege Gasor (Traditional Mising attire), my hair into a bun with a fresh Rajnigandha flower and dancing bangles (bangles made of black, white and red wool fabrics).
I felt so embarrassed dancing before my relatives but soon got over it and I loved it so much. It was really fun, knowledge full for me to get to know the basics of our tribe. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay till the end and participate in the feast they throw after completion of Gumrag Soman in the village.
It’s a great time to get together and dance with your friends, getting blessings from your adults. Its a great time to fall in love too, be it a little crush on the Dhuliya guy or Pepa Bojuwa guy. Or falling in love with the girl who is dancing in your group. We often see it happening in the movies and it happens in real lives too.
Not only it is fun for the young, adults are very active during the season, be it making preparations for the Ligang, hosting great feasts for their close ones and friends. The happiest of all are the Mothers, as it is the time when their children come back home from colleges or universities or from their jobs to reunite for a few days and have good home cooked food, visiting families and spending quality times before they head back.
In present time, Mising community has come up with various Ligang competitions like Gumrag Soman contest, Modern Mising dance, Anu nitom and Oi:nitom (Singing contest). They are rewarded with certificates and huge prize money. To win in these competitions, brings one so much fame and honor.
I would love to go back home and celebrate Ligang with my family and like so many other people does. But time can be a real pain during the festival when you have exams or you don’t get leave.
The Misingland Ethnic Restuarant
Eventually you have to skip Ligang or if you get invited by your friend you are very lucky. For those living in the city or those is who wants to try an authentic Mising Ali-Aye-Ligang, I would suggest, The Misingland Ethnic Restaurant right at the heart of the city i.e Guwahati.
Address: 1st Floor, SM Complex, Near V2, RG Baruah Road, Ganeshguri, Guwahati
It’s been almost a few years, I have missed Ligang at home due to studies or my work. Thankfully this year, I was craving Purang Apin and one of my friend suggested The Misingland. I went with my friends, Jeena and Chinmoyee and had a blast. Chinmoyee as she is not Mising, it was her first time trying out Ligang.
Our Experience at The Misingland
The food was amazing, the residue of Torapat in the Purang Apin was heavenly. We ate to our heart’s content. Various pork dishes (Pork with Lai leaves, Pork with Black Daal, Roasted Pork) along with Fried Baby Potatoes and Mashed potatoes with dry fish were served.
We were served in authentic bell metal utensils used commonly among the various tribes of Assam. The staffs were very friendly, which made the experience more beautiful and memorable.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Apong as they don’t have liquor license.
Decor at the Misingland
The restaurant itself is great, beautiful decor with lights and huge glass windows overlooking the city. Indoor plants occupy the corners and it gives a fresh look to it.
Seating Arrangements at The Misingland
I loved the different seating arrangements available in the restaurant. From traditional sitting on the floor, we love to sit on Pirahs (flat wooden seat) or Mats in our home, so keeping that in mind, they have spacious homely seating arrangements.
Also seating arrangements for Big family or a big party is available. If you are thinking of enjoying a quiet meal with your significant other then there is seating arrangements for couples too.
All in all, I had a great time at Misingland eating sinfully delicious food and
spending quality time with my girlfriends. Even away from home, I consider this the best way to celebrate Ligang in the city and couldn’t have wished for more.
Thank you Misingland for making us feel at home, away from home.