Amatu festival of the Hani

 

The Amatu Festival is one of the most important for the Hani. It is a kind of homage to the village's goddess. Although there are many legends about the origin of this festival, the most popular one tells how in old times there was a monster that terrified the Hani, because he fed of people.

Trying to calm him, the people reached an agreement. The monster will not eat the people, but the village will sacrifice to him two young boys every year.

One year, it was the time to offer to the monster Amatu's two sons. But she, refusing to lose her children, thought a solution. That night she began to sing that the cow meat was much better than that of the people, until the monster believed her. Then, she reached a new agreement. In exchange for stopping to feed of human meat, the village would offer the monster every year, two beautiful maidens like wives.

The monster accepted. Amatu then disguised her two sons like girls, hiding among their clothes sharpened knives. Previously she had instructed them to wait until the monster, drunk for the celebrations of the wedding, go to sleep. Then they must kill him with their knives.

The children follow the mother instructions, killing the monster. From then on the Hani people revere Amatu as the protector deity of their villages.

The festival has four steps well defined by the tradition, with diverse activities focused in request the protection for the village, its people, its cultivations and its livestock. It is an eminently agrarian festival.

The festival has suffered a great transformation in the last years, possibly for the need to give him enough interest to be transformed into a tourist attraction. A rite of homage to a feminine deity has become homage to the dragon, in some of whose activities the women are excluded.

At night, the youths sing and dance, following the rhythm that mark drums and cymbals.

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