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Sume-Gelirak


img3The Bondas of Koraput are an interesting primitive tribe. They live on hill-tops and lead a secluded life. Their interaction with other tribes is very rare. Among many festivals of the year, the most important festival for them is known as Sume-Gelirak. All the year young men and women look forward to the festival as it gives them ample freedom in all respects. The festival starts on a Sunday and continue for ten days. During the first few days they worship their traditional Godlings and demons as well. The Sisa or the tribal priest does the rituals of sacrificing animals and birds and propitiating the deities with liquor. Then amusement through dancing and singing begins with full vigour. Young men and women make dancing expeditions to neighbouring villages and during the dance choose their life partners. But the most serious and dramatic part of the festival is castingation. 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 behaviour. 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 watching the situation the Sisa stops them. Then they touch each others feet and embrace hugging and lifting the other in the air.

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