me-dum-me-phi 2024

31 January 2024
Assam    Regional holiday

Me-dam-me-phi is a state holiday observed in Assam on January 31st. This festival is celebrated by the Ahom people in memory of the departed. This has been one of the most important festivals of the Ahom since at least their arrival in Assam in the 12th century.

It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society. The word Me means offerings. Dam means ancestors and Phi means gods. So while this festival is seen as ancestor worship, the name reflects the Ahom belief that ancestors soon turn to gods, when an individuals immortal soul joins with the soul of the supreme being.

During Me-dam-me-phi, three Gods: Grihadam, Dam Changphi, and Me Dam Me Phi, the god of heaven, are worshipped and offered gifts. For families, the ceremony remains intimate and usually takes place in the kitchen. A pillar called Damkhuta is created, which becomes the focus for worship and to place offerings such as homemade wine, mah-prasad (beans and chickpeas), and rice with meat and fish. A public ceremony for Me-dam-me-Phi has taken place in Charaideo, Assam for over 400 years. Charaideo was the first permanent capital of the Ahom kingdom from the 13th century and was the burial site for the kings of the Ahom dynasty.

The festival is celebrated by worshipping two gods, who are Dam Chaufi and Chaufi. Priests conduct the worship according to the tenets laid down in the Ahom religious scriptures and by chanting mantras in the Ahom language. The festival is celebrated privately by families as well as in public. In families, it is observed in the kitchen, where a special pillar called ‘Damkhuta is set up that serves as the focal point of the offerings. Homemade delicacies are served to the ancestors in the form of rice, meat, fish, beans and chickpeas (called mah-prasad), and homemade wine.