Umpha Puja : A ritual of the Tai Ahoms

Like various other rituals, Umpha Puja is a very beautiful ritual of the Tai Ahoms. The Deodhai, Bailungs perform this ritual in a very serene way. To know its history and its methods, please read the whole article.

The Ahom dynasty has the record of reigning the longest period in a place in the World history, that is 600 years. The Ahom kings had built the foundation of a prosperous Assam, where the process of assimilation plays a pivotal role. One of the various rituals of the Ahoms is Umpha Puja. In this puja, the main god whom the Ahoms worship is 'Lengdon' or 'Nyu'. 'Lengdon' is the forefather of the Tai – Ahoms. This god 'Lengdon' sent 'Khunlung' and 'Khunlai' from 'Myufi' to 'Myungri – Myungram' after discussing with the gods 'Laukhri' and 'Jasingfa'. On that occasion, a festival was celebrated. According to the Tai Ahoms, later this festival became popular as Umpha puja.

In the past, this ritual was done by the Ahoms for the prosperity of the king, kingdom and the subjects and also for gaining victory over the enemies. The 'Deodhai', 'Bailungs' (priests) celebrates this puja during the Spring Season. In the Umpha puja, grasshoppers, ducks, cocks, goats, pigs, bullocks, buffaloes and even elephants were also sacrificed in the past in the name of the gods.

For this puja, an octagonal alter is prepared by the traditional methods. This alter is known as 'Deoghar' (Hefi). Besides this alter, three extra bamboo platforms are also built for another three kinds of gods. In the central alter seven prime gods of natural forces like 'Lengdon' (King of Heaven), 'Langdin' (Earth), 'Khawkham' (Water god), etc are worshipped. Besides these prime gods, 'Cheng-Mun-Cheng-Ban' (Sun and Moon) and Jasingfa (goddess of Wisdom) are also worshipped. In the right side of central alter some general gods like 'Langkuri' (Mountain god), 'Lai-Lung-Khan' (Jungle god) etc are worshipped. In front of alters 25 earthen lamps are lit on a post made by banana tree in the name of 'Doy-Ma-Lung-Fura' (Nature god).

When the ritual starts, 'Nam-Ja-Riu-Ja-Rai' (Holy Water) is sprinkled on the items of the ritual. The animals and the birds are sacrificed in front of 'Doy-Ma-Lung-Fura'. The rituals are done in an order from left side to the right side of alters. The animals and the birds are not sacrificed by cutting their heads. But they are killed by pressing their necks. Their bloods are worshipped in the name of the gods on earthen pots.

In the past, the armours of the Ahom warriors were stained with the sacred blood of the ritual. The king and the warriors also applied it on their forehead as marks. Umpha Puja is a very old ritual of the Tai Ahoms. This is mainly a ritual held to please the various gods of nature. But, now a day this ritual is done only by a few Tai Ahoms. It is very shameful to say that most of the young generation of Assam does not even hear about this ritual.


Guest Author: 29 Jun 2012

A nice resource for the members of assamspider is given by you. You have vast knowledge of ahom caste and their traditions.But it is rare to see this puja in Assam except Sivsagar district. Ahom people has given up to celebrate it. Modernisation may be the main cause to leave it. This puja is seen in 'Tai Sahitya Sabha'. Scarcity of Deodhai is another cause,ordinary persons donot know the methods of Umpha puja.

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