Sume- Gelirak- The Most Important Festival Of The Bonda Tribe Of Koraput, Orissa! It Is A 10-Day Affair With Several Ritualistic Practices!

The ten-day festival, Sume-Gelirak is an important festival for the Bonda tribe of Koraput District in Orissa. Sume-Gelirak is very important for young men and women because in this festival they get ample freedom in respects. Also during the dance they choose their life partner, so it’s very important for them.

The festival starts on a Sunday and continues for ten days. During the first few days, they worship their traditional Gods 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 the form of dancing and singing begins with full flow.

Young men and women make dancing expeditions to neighboring villages and during the dance they choose their life partners. However, the most serious and dramatic part of the festival is castigation. It begins first with little boys.Someone 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 village priest gives them cakes to stop all quarrels and delivers a little lecture of friendship and good behavior.

The following evening this 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 priest stops them. Then they touch each other’s feet and embrace hugging and lifting the other in the air.

A festival about teaching the importance of love and friendship in one’s life and being the perfect location for females to find their better half is what Sume Gelirak is about. Being celebrated by the Bondas of Koraput tribe of Odisha, this festival is awaited by the tribesmen for the whole year since this is the only time when they have the liberty to be free and do what they want to. The tribe, in reality, lives a very secluded life on a hilltop and are in conversations with other tribes very rarely thus are deprived from the happenings of the world. The Sume Gelirak has a significance in the culture of this tribe.

During the 10 days celebration, for the first few initial days are about worshipping the tribal Gods and Demons with sacrificing animal and birds which is specifically done by the the  village preiest. The process of pleasing them also includes the use of liquor. This festival is considered as a major tribal festival and for 10 days all they do is celebrated the essence and existence of the Koraput Tribe of Odisha.

Sharanya Alva


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