Tánsok ritual is the foundation of all the religious and cultural ceremonies of the Nocte tribe. It is a broad subject and depending upon the significance of the event, for which the ritual is being performed, it could take one day or one month to complete. Tánwa is the official designation of the person who performs the ritual. It is a religious ritual where a tánwa communicates with the various Gods and Goddesses of the tribe, through leaves known as Tándak. The tánwa studies the tándak to speak with the deity and then receives instructions, which must be followed to ensure the success of the ritual.
The number of tándaks to be plucked must always be in odd number, i.e., 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on. The leaves must be in a mint condition without any bug infestation and other deformity. The number of plants, from where the leaves are plucked, should be in odd numbers also.
The leaves are then sprinkled with water. The tánwa then folds it and gently touches the forehead of the devotee with it. In case the devotee is not physically present, then his/her personal item is used instead.
From the middle or the spine, the leaf is vertically sliced into a total of ten blades. It is cut in such a manner that the blades remain intact with the body of the leaf. After the spine is removed, the blades are automatically divided into two portions: five blades on the left and five blades on the right. The blades on the left represent the person for whom the ritual is being performed, and the blades on the right represent the deity.
The tánwa holds the leaf and wrap the blades around his index finger. This is done so that the next process, which is knotting, is done in the most random way possible.
After wrapping the blades, the tánwa forms a knot by randomly tying together any two blades. This knot is called Khosit. A total of four pairs of such knots are made. Now, the remaining two blades is left as it is, and it is called Khojung. The logic behind leaving the two blades untied is to ensure that the deity would be able to communicate with the tánwa.
N.B.: The above methods are repeated every time a new leaf is used.
The procedure of studying a tándak can be divided into the following groups:
The first procedure of tándak, is to observe the knots, and then identify the name of the deity, who needs to be appeased for the success of the ritual. This procedure requires only one leaf.
A new leaf is prepared in the same way for the second procedure. The study method is also same. But through this procedure, the tánwa tries to find out what he is going to offer the deity in order to appease Him/Her. If the deity accepts the first offering, the procedure ends here. But, if the deity is not pleased with the first offering, the tánwa repeats the process. This procedure continues until the deity accepts an offering and it may require one or more leaves.
There are a total of 120 offerings and the deity is appeased by any one of them. The tánwa has to repeat the process until the deity agrees, and therefore, in some cases, a hundred tándaks is also used. Some of the name of the offerings are as follow:
7. Nanglam Thongchán
10. Nang Chekarong
After the deity accepts an offering, another leaf is prepared to determine the place where this offering must be given. The procedure of the third study is same as the second, where the tánwa asks the deity about the location of the offering until the deity agrees. This procedure may require one or more leaves.
Tánsok is performed for every social, cultural and religious ceremonies. After following the above procedures, different occasions require one or more additional procedures, and accordingly, tánsok ritual can be divided into the following:
1. Naming Ceremony
The name giving ceremony of a new-born is known as Namin Min. In Nocte culture, name is given by a tánwa. The parents may put forward the names of their choice, but the final decision is made after the ritual. This ritual is a part of Tánsok and is called Mintán.
2. House Construction
While constructing a house, the first structure erected is the pillar. It is regarded as a holy place and it is not allowed to be touched. To erect this pillar, Humthintán ritual is performed. It is also a part of tánsok. Only after this, the construction may begin in full swing.
When a sick person performs tánsok, then it is called Chhat Joap. The tánwa then prays for the sick person to recover. Please note that, in this ritual, the tánwa provides no medicine.
Tánsok is also performed to predict the outcome of an event. For example, a hunter performs this ritual to determine whether his hunt would be successful or not.
In case a person lost a valuable item, he/she performs tánsok to reveal the location of the said item.
Chámkát is one of the most important ceremony of the Loku festival. It is an initiation ceremony in the Nocte culture after which a person is formally recognized and revered by all. It is strictly practised by the male members only. In some villages, the ceremony can be observed anytime and even at the age of 10 or 50. On the other hand, in some villages, the ceremony is to be observed at a certain age and after which he will no longer be eligible to participate in the ceremony.