Shakok village keeps alive old tradition with Khui Phanit

UKHRUL, 11th Oct: While many good virtues of the elders have become obsolete in this everything-goes era, residents of Shakok village in Phungyar sub-division have shown something to hold on to; an age-old tradition that, they believe, had helped maintain social reciprocity and create a feeling of community well-being among their forefathers.
The ancient tradition of 'food sharing' as practiced by older generation of the village, brought together a crowd of around 300 people of all ages, including widows and elders, at the village community hall as the villagers celebrated the 7th Khui Phanit (Hornet Festival) on Friday.
Attending the festival as chief guest Kamjong DC Zuringla Kengoo lauded Sakok villagers for preserving the age-old tradition of sharing food by feasting together, irrespective of their status.
"You have set an example for others to follow in promoting love and mutual understanding among the people,” she stated, while urging the villagers to keep up the spirit of cooperation.
Zuringla also remarked that hornet/wasp larvae are a seasonal delicacy and are a traditional food item for the community since olden days. She nevertheless, urged the villagers for judicious management of hornets/wasps and other natural resources to help maintain eco-system.
Notably, the significance of the festival lies in the mass feast that signifies the generosity of the villagers in sharing food with their fellows. "We started the festival back in 2013 and this mass feast was adapted from the ancient tradition of our parents who would share whatever food they had with their fellows and neighbours," Shakok headman Pearson Jajo told 'The People's Chronicle in an interaction.
He said that with the passage of time, majority of people in the village had changed the way of living and stopped the practice of exchanging food.
"Villagers realised that this change was unintended and was affecting social relations among the people. Thus, the festival was started to revive the good tradition," he said.
"Hornets and wasps are considered a delicious and very expensive food which only the rich can afford. So the village, through a resolution, imposed a restriction on commercialisation of the larvae so that poor households and widows and older people who are constrained by income or functional status, could also equally enjoy the seasonal food with the rest of the villagers," Jajo explained. The total harvest of hornets is thus collected by the villagers together for the mass feast held on the festival day every year, he added.
Shangshak Khullen headman Ngazekmi Shishak said that the festival is a gesture of goodwill among inhabitants of not only Shakok village but also different neighbouring villages in the area.
"It's a good example that each village in the region starts to emulate and promote oneness and unity among the people by sharing the food of love," he said.
Attending the festival, social activist Hungyohung said that hornets are a part of food culture of the district. He however, appealed to all villagers to take extra care and not use fuels like petroleum products while harvesting or collecting hornets so as not to damage the insect eco-system.

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