on Celebration of a successful hunt

Source: History of the Catholic Missions in Northeast India (1890-1915) Written By: Rev. Fr. Christopher Becker SDS. Translated from German to English by: Rev. Fr. G.Stadler SDB & Rev. Fr. S. Karotemprel SDB
Published by: Firma KLM Private Limited , 257-B, B.B. Ganguly Street, Kolkata – 700 012, India. Copyright: Vendrame Missiological Institute, Shillong, 1980

Page 154 – 156

The Khasis have also different kinds of poetry. Fresh life and new joys are injected into the quiet villages after a successful hunt. Let us hear how Fr. Dominic Daunderer describes such a scene:

There was a great joy some time ago in the village of Laitkynsew. (Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is located in Village Laitkynsew.) A few brave hunters had gone out hunting. They spotted a bear hiding behind giant trees and creepers in a thick jungle but they could not drive it out of its hiding place. The hunting party brought back home a barking deer instead. Outside the village a kind of stretcher was made of bamboo sticks and the hunted animal was placed on it by propping it up with a bamboo stick. The legs of the barking deer were fixed on to the ends of this stick. The head was resting on a forked branch. They put a small bunch of grass into its mouth and the bow and arrow on the stretcher. The hunters carried their guns because they still needed them. A few young men ran into the village and filled their bamboo with rice liquor (kiat).

After these preparations, the procession into the village began. It was about 8 o’clock in the morning. A few blank shots in the air brought the youth of the village together. There was great joy when the stretcher with the barking deer was carried on the shoulders of eight stout young men slowly and solemnly followed by the hunters. Now there was silence because one of the hunters began to sing the so called Jingphawar, a kind of solo with a refrain or acclamation suited to the occasion and all joined in it with lusty voices.

The soloist walked ahead of the stretcher facing it. In his left hand he carried his gun and with his right hand he made gestures while singing. He sang more or less as follows:

“From the mountains, from the cold country, you have come to this place, the realm of Laitkynsew”.
The hunters and the crowd here joined in shouting, “Hou, hou, ho – ouh”.
“You were free and lived happily in the jungle, you ate grass for a long time: Hou, ha, ha, ha, juh!”
A few shots were fired in the air and a couple of draughts of liquor taken, then the soloist continued:
“Young, stout, handsome the hunters saw you among the thirty animals (all animals). They went out with bow and arrow, with gun, lead and gunpowder”.
“Hou, hou, ho – ouh !”
“You fled into the thick jungle. Was it of any avail ? You retreated shyly from the courageous hunters: Houh, houh, ho – ouh”.
“We shot you and robbed you of your good name, your honour. Why did you come into the land, into the realm of Laitkynsew ? Houh, houh, ho – ouh”.
“O Lady why did you come here. You have delivered yourself to death and destruction! But we rejoice, we sing and shout with joy ! Houh, houh, ha, ha, ha.”

They continued in this manner for a long time. When one singer has become hoarse, another singer, who thinks he is another Apollo, takes over and continues the song. The Khasis are never in a hurry. The way through the village may ordinarily take ten minutes, but on this occasion it took them four hours. When the procession stopped for some time, the spectators sat down, passed the hooka from one to another, and chewed the betel nut, bespattering everything with red spittle. The day was brought to a happy conclusion with a hearty meal.