Megalithic tradition associated with agricultural ritual
A study of the Chongkhong Phuja among the Hill Tiwas of Umswai Valley in Assam, India
Keywords:megaliths, living tradition, oral tradition, menhirs, animal sacrifice, jhum cultivation
The Tiwa community is one of the autochthonous communities of Northeast India. An important aspect of Tiwa culture is the erection of stone monuments during the celebration of Chongkhong Phuja. This ceremony is performed before the commencement of their yearly agricultural cycle which falls in late April and continues to early May. On this occasion, a menhir and table stone are erected by the head priest of the Tiwa village, who then invokes their village guardian deity to call for a better harvest as well as for the wellbeing of the villagers. This elaborate ceremony marks the beginning of the agricultural season for the year, following which the villagers commence their agricultural activities. This paper deals with the performance of Chongkhong Phuja and the associated living megalithic tradition among the Hill Tiwas residing in the Umswai Valley. It also documents the oral traditions associated with the origin of the megalithic tradition in the community. As most of the living megalithic traditions among the ethnic communities of Northeast India are either related to burial practices or commemorating the death of a person or an event, this Chongkhong Phuja represents a unique example of a megalithic tradition related to agricultural practice. Indirect evidence suggests the megalithic structures present at the ceremonial place of the Chongkhong Phuja in the Amsai village of the Umswai Valley have been continuously erected for the last thousand years. The paper also hypothesizes the shifting cultivation in the area to be as old as the practice of the megalithic tradition.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Raktim Patar, Manjil Hazarika
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors are confirming that they are the authors of the submitting article, which will be published (print and online) in journal Documenta Praehistorica by Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia). Author’s name will be evident in the article in journal. All decisions regarding layout and distribution of the work are in hands of the publisher.
- Authors guarantee that the work is their own original creation and does not infringe any statutory or common-law copyright or any proprietary right of any third party. In case of claims by third parties, authors commit their self to defend the interests of the publisher, and shall cover any potential costs.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.