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Sume-Gelirak

Tribal festival of Orissa

Sume – Gelirak is tribal festival that is celebrated by the Bonds of Koraput who are a primitive tribe and lead a secluded life. All the year young men and women look forward to the festival as it gives them ample freedom in all respects. Sume- Gelirak continues for a period of ten days starting generally on a Sunday on which the tribal worship their traditional Gods and demons. The Sisa or the tribal priest does the ritual of sacrificing animals and birds and propitiating the deities with liquor. Then amusement through dancing and singing begins with full vigor. Young men and women make dancing expeditions to neighboring villages and during the dance choose their life partners. But the most serious and dramatic part of the festival is castigation. It begins first with little boys. Some one takes up the drum and beats it loudly and others join with him. The boys stand in pairs, front to front, and strike each other as hard as they can with pliant branches of a tree stripped off its foliage. When they had enough of it, they salute each other and embrace, and another pair takes their place. When all the boys of the village complete this piquant exercise, the Sisa gives them cakes to stop all quarrels and delivers a little lecture of friendship and good behavior. The following evening this castigation is repeated with young men and even the old. They bow each other with folded hands and start dancing to the frantic beats of the drums and then hitting hard with the branches. Blood flows from their wounds and at this point the Sisa stops them. Then they touch each others feet and embrace hugging and lifting the other in the air.

 

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