By TONY SULUPIN
LAIAGAM district in Enga is preparing to stage the first ever major district show to feature the long lost Sangai initiation ceremony.
The Sangai initiation is a ritual tradition for young men to prepare for manhood. It signifies the passage of rite in the growth and development of young boys in order to prepare them to become men of their own and start a life little away from parental bonds.
This vibrant ritual tradition in Enga culture has been forgotten for some time due to the influences of the western culture that have brought radical changes to the lifestyles of indigenous people.
Sangai teaches young men to be guarded by the rules of nature and act in accordance with the existing code of traditions and norms of the society. For instance, young men were restricted from coming into intimate contact with women and kept away from defilement of feminine blood during menstruation until they were initiated. In this way, they kept their cultural values and traditions reverberated all year round.
The magical powers and secrets of the Sangai were enshrined in a culturally significant plant called lepe which was accompanied by spells, and kept by secret keeper or repository.
During the week-long initiation out in the bush, young men were subject to ritual purification under the watchful eyes of their leader who was vested with lepe secrets. The lepe was used to rub the bodies of initiating boys to symbolise purification of any blemishes sustained during birth or women may have in their menstruation periods.
The most painful test was the eye-washing ritual where every initiated man was obligated to expose eyeballs so that water running from a height must hit hard on the cornea. Their boss was prepared to hit anyone who displayed incompetency or unwillingness with a huge stick.
Sangai was essential element of vibrant culture and it underpins Enga province a culturally originated society. Sadly, this ancient culture has been gradually worn out due to factors like invasion of western cultures. Also tribal fighting in indigenous communities has sabotaged most of the traditional costumes so it’s very hard to replace.
Nevertheless, Lagaip Sangai Festival is a community initiative in partnership with the National Cultural Commission to fully revive this near extinct culture together with other cultures and ritual traditions of Laiagam district.
The dates fixed for this event according to the National Cultural Events calendar are Sept 15 and 16, 2020. It will be held at the Laiagam oval. It will be a moment of excitement and laughter particularly when the initiating boys will be grabbed by groups of women who could be their potential husband in future.
The farmers will use the platform to showcase and demonstrate their agriculture products and farming skills. There is huge potential to venture into agribusinesses hence rural farmers will be bolstered interest to go into any scale farming to achieve Laiagam to be a food hub for the nation.
Laiagam district has been branded the “wild west” due to a seeming lack of vibrant leadership and clear vision.
The aim of this initiative is to change all of that to “Laiagam paradise.”
- For more information contact Festival Chairman Tony Sulupin on
phone: 79232698 or email: email@example.com