Miu is a Naga festival celebrated by the Khiamniungan Nagas, a minority tribe in Nagaland. It is among the important and popular festivals of Nagaland. The Khiamniungan are traditional practitioners of Jhum cultivation.
Khiamniungan is one of the major Naga tribes, inhabiting the Tuensang and Noklak districts and the adjoining areas of Myanmar. Khiamniungan literally translates to source of great waters. Farming is one of the primary occupations of the people of this region. The Khiamniungan tribals, who traditionally practised jhum cultivation (slash and burn agriculture), celebrate the Miu festival at the time of sowing. Tsokum is another week-long harvest festival of the tribe, celebrated in October. The festival includes dancing, singing, cleaning, repair of the roads, and outdoor cooking and eating. In this festival the people invoke god’s blessing for a bountiful harvest. Synchronized dances are performed during the many festivals of the Khiamnuingan tribe.
This festival works in favor of bringing relatives and families together. It especially signifies the bond shared by maternal uncles with their respective niece and nephews. On this particular occasion there arises a chance for forging stronger relations between uncles and their nieces or nephews. The uncles offer prayers and evoke a powerful deity to look after and bless their sister’s children. It includes merrymaking, holistic rituals and an organized feat of feasts. The festival is also a prayer offered at the time of sowing new harvest and hoping for a successful harvest in the coming season.
Miu is celebrated in the month of May. It is observed in the first week of the month every year. 5th of May is the precise day when this festival is celebrated.
The Khiamniungan tribe is one of the major tribe among the Nagas, with habitation both in India and Myanmar. Geographically, the land of Khiamniungans is located in the Eastern part of Nagaland and in the North-Western part of Myanmar. The nomenclature of the tribe ‘ Khiamniungan’ is a compound word formed by three words: ‘Khiam’ means water, ‘Niu’ means great and ‘Ngan’ means source. Thus, the meaning of the term Khiamniungan is ‘source of great water or river’. The nomenclature derives from the biggest river of the land (laang) and to the river to which it ultimately confluence (Chindwin). The main river formed from the watershed of Khiamniungan area is ‘Laang’ known as ‘Zungki’ in the downstream that ultimately flows into the Chindwin river in Myanmar. Some earlier written sources wrongly referred to the Khiamniungans as ‘Kalyo-Kengnyu’ named after the snow clad mountain of patkoi ranges locally known as Khulioking.
The people of Khiamniungan trace back their origin to a place called ‘Khiamngan’. Legend says that there was a great flood. There upon people began to go up into higher elevation. As the flood subsides they descend downhill and started the first settlement of the new era at ‘Khiamngan’. The Khiamniungans after living for three consecutive generations in Khiamngan gradually moved to different directions to form several hamlets/villages. One group migrated to a place known as Lumoking and further to formed Pathso and Peshu ranges. Likewise another group migrated to Nokhu thangsoun and gradually wemt northward to form the present Thang and Wolam ranges. Whereas, one group who got settled at a place known as Shiadkhan and finally to form Nokhu range. Later on with the increase of population, migration to the further East started and eventually extended up to the Northern bank of Chuhoongan (Chindwin) river and beyond in Myanmar.