A 250 km long bus journey should not take more than 6 hours but when you are in Nagaland and travelling between Dimapur and Mon, this travel time turns into a 14 hour long backbreaking journey. Mon District is home to Konyak people, one of the 16 indigenous tribes residing in Nagaland. Their culture, lifestyle and traditions have seen a lot of transition in the past decade and yet they have managed to not only preserve their values but also ensure that it is passed on to the next generations.
Konyak community celebrate Aoling or Aoleang Festival which marks the beginning of their harvest season. Most of the harvest festivals in India have a common theme. People eat, drink, buy new clothes and carry out processions on the streets in their traditional clothes. In Maharashtra, it is Gudhi Padwa, in Mon, it’s Aoleang.
When I planned to travel to witness this festival, I didn’t know anything about it. I was supposed to leave in a day or two but my hosts requested to extend my visit for a day because this festival was going to be historical. Upon asking, I was told that around 5000 women from different colonies of Mon town would dance together to attempt an entry into the Guinness World Records book
Looking back I feel, even if this world record attempt was not going to happen, I would have extended my stay for a few days, for Mon is really beautiful.
On the final day of the event, it started raining from 3 in the morning. The view became a little clear at 6 am and we realised that everything had turned muddy. We wondered if the performance would be called off. But despite all the obstacles, around 4,707 women gathered in the Mon Cultural Ground. Everyone from the town and nearby villages had filled the stadium, some simply stood on the roadside. The aerial view of the gathering of so many women in their traditional costumes and jewellery was breathtaking.
After prayers and drum beating, the music started and so did the dance. To make an entry in the world record, the stipulation was to perform for atleast five minutes. They crossed the time limit and got an official entry in Guinness World Records book. The record committee also asked for 2500 participants but the final number was almost double The result for the same was announced on April 10, 2019.
The plan for this record attempt has been in motion since 2016 and they only received approval from Guinness Book committee last year.
The event was jointly organised by the Konyak Union (KU), Konyak Students’ Union (KSU) and Konyak Nyupuh Sheko Khong (KNSK).