Monday, January 23, 2012

Tribes, Land and Culture

 The ORIGIN of the people 
The term “Naga” refers to the ethnic tribal people who live in the tri-junction of India, China and Myanmar. The Nagas border Burmese on the East, Chins and Manipuris on the south, Assamese on the West and Kachins and China on the North.  
The term “Naga” is highly disputed among the scholars because of its vague etymological origin. Some like Brown (Brown: 1910) have suggested that the term “Naga” is not coined by the Nagas but by the outsiders based on the common identities. Some like R. Horam are of the opinion that during earlier times, the elder Nagas did not know that they were known as Naga by name. Consequently, no exact meaning of the term Naga is agreed upon and the scholars are of different opinions. The term means “Naked” for some (Sanskrit origin); “Snake Worshippers” for some (Tai Ahom origin); “People of perforated ear” for some (Burmese origin) and “People” for some (local or tribal origin). However, this name has been used as early as C. E. 150 with the mention of Claudius Ptolemy to Naga area in his Geographia as “Nagalogoi” which means the “Realm of the Naked.”
Ethnically, the Nagas belong to the Tibeto-Burman family of Mongolian race. They are basically Tribal and speak several dialects, which are classified under Tibeto-Burman linguistic family. Naga community is comprised of several tribes and clans. It is recorded that there are more than 40 government-recognized tribes residing in both India and Myanmar. Apparently, the physical texture of the Nagas is similar to their Tibeto-Burman neighbors having yellowish and brownish complexion. Both man and woman are tattooed and the style of tattoo is different from one clan to another, from one village to another and from one tribe to another. Tattoo is also considered an identification mark, which can easily identify a person’s identity especially in times of war and loss. (Isak Swu: 2003). (This tattoo tradition is getting extinct due to the influence of modern culture). They are also similar to those of the Paiwan of Formasa, the Ifugao and Battak of Samutra, the Dyaks and Kayan of Borneo, which are of Mongolian family. Nagas appear flat-nosed and shallow epicanthic folds with mesocephalic heads. They are muscularly well built and healthy due to daily hard work and wholesome food. Their eyes look dark. Some are straight haired and some curly. According to the survey, the average height of the people is 164 centimeters for man and 160 centimeters for woman.
Oral tradition of the Nagas helps in tracing the migration of the Nagas. The importance of the oral tradition of the Nagas T. A. Shishak notes, “Folktales and oral historical traditions remain the sole link between the past and the present.” Traditionally and historically, it is affirmed that the Nagas are of Mongoloid stock racially. Therefore, it is beyond doubt to state that their migration began in Mongolia prior before the completion of the Great Wall of China and moved from China to present habitat via Myanmar. The scholars are of the opinion that the Nagas along with the other Tribal groups migrated to the present land. Yet the exact date of migration still lies shrouded in the midst of legends and chaos. However, it is plausible to note that the ancient Hindu literature mentions the presence of the Tribal groups in Eastern India as early as 1000 B.C. E. in which the Nagas could possibly be included. Another recommendable evidence is found in the Royal Chronicles of Manipur in which a Manipuri king Meidingu Lairen Phakhamba mentions Haochong village of Impui Nagas around (33-150 C.E.) and another Manipuri king Ningthourel Lamba mentions the same village around (662-762 E. C.). Based on this evidence, scholars believe that the Nagas could have migrated and settled in the present land at least before 2nd century B.C.E.
            As we have seen roughly the origin of all the Nagas, we will narrow our point to the Nagas in Myanmar. The Nagas in Myanmar are usually mentioned as Eastern Nagas, Burma Nagas or Nagas of Myanmar Occupied Nagalim. However, these names refer to the same group of people. Firstly, we give here the tribes which are recognized by Central Naga Cultural Committee, Khamti (Eastern Naga Hoho) and the Government of the Union of Myanmar and some more tribes, which are considered “lost Naga tribes,” are also presented for a better understanding on the Nagas in Myanmar.

The Naga Tribes in Myanmar:
1.   Anal
2.   Konyak
      3.   Lamkang
      4.   Leinong
      5.   Makury [1]
      6.   Moyon
      7.   Nokko (Khiamniungan) [2]
      8.   Para
      9.   Somra [3]
      10. Tangshang (Heimi; Pangmi) [4]
Notice: There are many more Naga tribes residing in Myanmar along the banks of the Chindwin River, the Satih/Nanteleik/Tizu River and the Nawin River. But they presently claim as Red Shans and Tamans. Tamans themselves agreed to the point that they were once on the Hills with the Nagas after they left Inn Daw Gyi in Kachin State. The migration of the Tamans from Inn Daw Gyi is based on complicated oral stories but one thing sure is that they were settling together on the Hills with the Nagas. For the Nagas, the Tamans are part of Naga family. Similarly, famous historians and scholars also agree that they migrated from Thaungdut (Samsok) and from Patkai Hills, who also have very close affinity and kinship with Makury, Para and Somra Nagas. In fact, they share many similarities with the mentioned tribes like in terms of practice and belief system though they adopted the language of the Shan Sawbwas who had come from Shan state, Chinese border and began to call themselves as Red Shans . The village chief of Twetwa nearby Tamanthi village said, “We are actually Nagas and we are not Red Shans! Our leaders once told us that we had to claim as Red Shans because if we claim our originality then we will be beheaded[5] by the people who come from Mt. Saramati.” (Phoe Mat, 1990; cf. Brown, 1910). However, we present a list of tribes, considered lost ones or assimilated into larger tribes, who are residing in the above mentioned locations and the names are as below:
       1.     Sengkadong
       2.     Nao Moe
       3.     Shaatphuilë (Shangphuri)
       4.     Hein Sun
       5.     Khaklak
       6.     Lem
       7.     Lëjenglë
       8.     Pengku (Pongoo/Paingu)
       9.     Tangan 
   10.    Zonglë
Here, Khaklak and Tangan tribes are supposed to be found in Tanai township but it was informed that they are assimilated with the Kachin tribes and some are seen as clans under Tangshang tribe.


Nagas in Myanmar are basically found in Sagaing Division and Kachin state. The Naga territory in Myanmar is marked by Kabo valley in the south bordering to the Chin state, the Kachin on the north and the Burmese on the east. The townships which are populated by the Nagas are:
1. Homalin
2. Lahe with Tanbakwe sub-township
3. Layshi with Mowailut sub-township and Somra sub-township
4. Khamti
5. Khanpat
6. Namyun with Pangsau sub-township
7. Tamu of Sagaing Division and
8. Tanai of Kachin state [7]

Here, we mention the location of the above mentioned tribes in each township. Anal and Moyon are mainly found in Tamu and Khanpat townships on the south and a few Somra Nagas are also found in and around Tamu bordering to Layshi jurisdiction. Makury, Para and Somra tribes are mainly found in Layshi township. Makury Nagas and a few Somra Nagas are also found in Homalin township. Lahe is highly populated by Konyak, Nokko, Lainong and Makury tribes. Namyung on the north is the home of Tangsang tribe which is comprised of more than 54 sub-dialect groups. Homlin township is highly populated by the considered lost tribes (Red Shans). But Kukis, Burmese, Chinese and Indians are also found there. Khamti township is populated altogether by all the Naga tribes majority and with a number of Burmese, Shans, Chinese and Indians. Tanai in Kachin state of Myanmar is populated by the Tangshang Nagas among the Kachin people and
Clarification: The tribes which are wrongly mentioned as the Naga tribes of Myanmar may be listed and clarified correctly here:
1. Phom, Phelungri, Chirr, Sengphuri, Tikhir and Yimchunger/Yimchungrü are not found in Eastern Nagaland (Myanmar Occupied Nagaland). They are found only in Longleng, Kiphire and Teunsang districts of Western Nagaland (India Occupied Nagaland). Chirr and Tikhir are sub-tribes of Yimchungrü found in the mentioned districts of the Western Nagaland. Sengphuri and Phelungri are sub-tribes of Sangtam though a few members of Phelungri claim to be of Yimchungrü.
2. Saplo/Solo and Pakang are still under verification. Saplo is sometimes mentioned as Lainong or Konyak. It still needs an official verification from the CNCC (Eastern Naga Hoho) too.
3. Rangpan and Namshik are the two sub-tribes that comprise Tang Shang tribe which is found in Namyun township.
4. Nocte is not found in Eastern Nagaland but only in Arunachal Pradesh of India. It seems that it has submerged into Tangshang tribe as a sub-tribe.
5. There are many more tribes mentioned apart from the above list of ours but they are not found in the official list of the CNCC (Eastern Naga Hoho) and some cannot be found even.

The Territorial Integrity of the Nagas in Myanmar
The ancestral territory of the Nagas in Myanmar reaches Kalaywa on the far South, Daung Thone Lone (Three Hills) on the East and Tanai of Kachin state presently on the North. But when Ex-Gen. Ne Win drafted the infamous constitution in 1974, the Naga territory was sliced into a smaller one that included only one district i.e. Khamti district with five townships: Khamti, Homlin, Layshi, Lahe and Namyung. Later, the Naga territory was again shrunk in 2008 drafting of constitution in Nyaung Hne Bin and according to that drafting, only the hill towns Layshi, Lahe and Namyung are marked as the Naga territory by the name Naga Self-Administered Zone, but without including Khamti and Homlin the important towns of the Nagas. Though it was not accepted by the Naga public, the junta did it with some few pickups and their mouthpieces.

The Naga territory which is presently under Myanmar administration was totally free from any alien domination and occupation apart from the chiefs and leaders from the Naga community. The fall of Naga territory under the Burmese administration began with Anglo-Burmese Yandabo agreement in 1826 and later 1953 Indo-Burmese demarcation in Kohima on the Naga territory by Shri Nehru and U Nu, the then Prime Ministers of the two States. But it was also done without any consent of the Nagas as we know the event. From the time on, there came a division as East and West among the Nagas or the Nagas of the East and of the West. In order to cover up the cooked story of the Burmese on the Nagas, they claim that the Nagas attended the so-called Panglong Agreement in 1947 and that the Nagas too agreed to join Burmese Union along with other ethnic communities. But it is purely make-up saying and historically unjustifiable since the Nagas never attended the Panglong convention! The so-called Naga candidates who claimed to have attended the convention were Chin opportunists and they never represented the Naga public. The Nagas were clear enough for their stand prior to that of Panglong convention since they knew already what would mean to them in the future if they attended it and which is why the Nagas purposely avoided but opted to fight for sovereignty against the odds without accepting General Aung Sang's invitation.

However, the Naga territory was annexed in coercion into India and Burma by their successive demagogues. The Nagas in Myanmar occupy a compact area of the Northwestern region between the Chin state on the south and the Kachin state on the north of Myanmar. Until recent time, the Naga territory was under one district or one administrative zone i.e. Khamti district of Saging division with little part in Kachin state. But with drafting of 2008 constitution of Myanmar the Naga territory was badly damaged and sliced into pieces. The hill townships: Layshi, Lahe and Namyung were given as Naga Self-Administered Region carving out Khamti, Homalin and Tamu under Sagaing division. This is also done by the junta without the consent of the Naga public. Though it is grossly unfair, the junta did with little pick-up guys. They know that it is belonging to the Nagas but they intentionally annex the major parts of the Naga territory into their fold. It is a deliberate human rights violation on the Nagas!

We, therefore, appeal to the world that our land has been divided without our will and consent by the Burmese junta and colonialists and to international community and humanitarian communities to help us maintain the integrity of our land and territory against the junta.

Attacks and encroachment on the Naga territory
The ancestral land of the Nagas includes Kalaywa town on the south, reaching up to Tanai of Kachin state and crossing far East of the Uyu River that borders Three Hills (Daung Thone Lone) as seen in the 1947 constitution of Burma though the Nagas did not promise the Burmese to join them the territory of the Nagas was clearly mentioned. But later, when Gen Ne Win drafted the constitution in 1974, the territory of the Nagas was shrunk into a smaller one that is framed only in one district viz. Khamti which is comprised of only five townships viz. Khamti, Homlin, Layshi, Lahe and Namyung.
During the 2008 drafting of the constitution of Myanmar, the junta promised to grant autonomy to the Nagas with an administrative zone viz. Naga Self-Administered Zone and materialized it after the recent election in Myanmar. But very sadly, the ancestral land of the Nagas is again sliced and left only the Hills (Layhi, Lahe and Namyung towships) excluding the major towns (Khamti and Homlin). The Naga public had raised voice against the dividing of the land but the junta carried out with some picked up leaders who do not represent the Nagas but their (junta) mouthpiece, power mongers at the expense of the innocent people and ancestral land of the Nagas.

Attacks from the neighboring people: It is a well-known cooked story of the Chins, southern neighbors of the Nagas, which says that the Nagas are a tribe in Chin family and claiming that even Mt. Saramati is the highest peak in Chinland. Thus, the Nagas are to be counted as Chins and the Naga territory is also to be as part of Chinland. To this claim, several Naga organizations like NNLD (Naga National League for Democracy) had already submitted the clarification on the issue which can create destructive chaos among the neighbors and affect peaceful co-existence in the future.
There is also another problem in the northern part of the Eastern Nagaland. Since, Tanai township is presently under Kachin state and thus based on the status quo the Kachin neighbors claim that it belongs to the Kachin people, as part of Kachinland. But, it is to be aware that this claim is unjustifiable according to the history and the territorial integrity of the ancestral land of the Nagas. On the one hand, the Nagas also must come together to protect our mother land and ask the international community to help us maintain our land with rights and dignity and make known to the world that we are also humans like other.

The Formation of the Central Naga Cultural Committee (CNCC) (Eastern Naga Hoho) and its Activity
Central Naga Cultural Committee (Eastern Naga Hoho) is the apex body of the Nagas in Myanmar that was endowed with authority to rule and safeguard the lives of the Nagas in Myanmar. Its members are elected by the Naga public democratically. But later, the junta destroyed this apex body of the Nagas in Myanmar by replacing the members with the pickups. Also CNCC was ordered to function as per the command of the junta and CNCC becomes a puppet in the hands of the junta (More information are yet to be included).


CULTURAL ASPECT
            Social Life of the People
            The social setting of the Nagas differs from the mainland people but similar to their neighboring Tribal groups. They live distinctly and practice the things that are unique to them. Hence, we would like to look into the social life of the Nagas as a whole without confining in any individual tribe or community.
 i.      Community-oriented life style: The Nagas are basically community-oriented people and they are closely related to one another. Pains and joys are shared together in the family, among the clan members and villagers. Things and properties are conceived in terms of commonality and sharing to one another, the practice.  Concerning the community-oriented life style of the Nagas, Kaka D. Iralu a famous Naga politician and author says, “When you hurt one Naga, you don’t hurt an individual but a whole village” (Kaka D. Iralu).   A. Makury compares this community-oriented life style of the Nagas with the New Testament Christian  community (Acts  2: 44). This Tribal tie is unique to the Nagas in particular as a Tribal people. This life style helps the Nagas to protect themselves from the enemies and achieve unity and peace and other things, which are essential to their living.
ii.      Village structure: The scholars observe that the highest civilization developed by the Nagas is village civilization.  Naga villages are usually situated on the hilltops or on the edge of huge rocks as to ensure the security and good climate for both the people and the crops. The village structure is set up based on the family, clan and khel or colony. A clan is comprised of several families and it is a kind of social unit commonly found among the Tribals. Each village is independent and managed by its members without any overshadow from outside. except  some. Every member of the village is responsible for the welfare of the village and security. In the village, every individual is equally privileged and has every right to voice for the betterment of the society. Nobody is looked down or discriminated based on family, clan and khel. The poor and needy are looked after by the fellow beings. Every village is free from class or caste unlike the mainland Indians and Burmese. Thus, it is one of the unique things that the Nagas maintain in the society.
iii.      The Morung: The word “Morung” is derived from the Ahom language. For the Nagas, it refers to “Naga traditional institute which was responsible for indigenous Naga education” (Takatemjen Ao). This practice is found not only in Naga society but also in other Tribals such as Kuki-Chins, Garos, Abors of North-East and among the Melanesians, the Papuans, the Eskimos, the Solomon islanders and African Tribal people. The Morung is a large building with separate dormitories for both boys and girls. The members are not allowed to visit each other dormitory and it is a taboo to do so.  The building is decorated with several items such as human images, animals’ skulls and bones. Boys and girls at puberty leave for the Morung and begin their education that is concerned in all the spheres of life and they leave the Morung when they get married. They spend the night in the Morung after their fieldwork and activities and in the morning, they depart for their own works. For important village activity and occasion, the Morung members function from the frontline.
             The commander who is well learned with a good reputation and appointed for training the younger generations looks after the Morung. Sometimes, the Morung acts as the village court for the crimes committed. All the members are equally treated and no partiality is maintained. Several activities such as political, social, religious and economic affairs are dealt with and taught in this institution from their young age and the members of the Morung are trained in such a way that they will be responsible for the future of the village in every way. Thus, the Morung is the hope of the village for the Nagas. To be precise, this institution is the most important for the cultural development and civilization of the Nagas.
iv.      Marriage and family: When a member of a family is grown up and able to manage for her or himself, the parents are responsible to arrange a spouse for him or her. In the past, love marriage was hardly found but arranged marriage was common for the Nagas. Nevertheless, arranged marriage does not usually go against the will of the bride and bridegroom. Marriage is marked by ceremonies and celebrations including some rituals. Practice of dowry is also common among the Nagas but bridegroom has to give to his in-laws. In most of the tribes, the bride loses her clan title when she is married and she has to adopt the husband’s title. Marriage is understood as to ensure biological and psychological satisfactions. It is a social contract between a man and woman for reproduction and fulfilling the task handed over by the elders generation to generation. Phratry marriage is forbidden in some tribes but allowed in some tribes. Divorce is undesired and found rarely yet. Widows are also privileged for remarriage without any bound. Maternal cousin marriage is encouraged. Fraternal cousin marriage and incest are considered a taboo for the Nagas. Monogamy is most widely accepted practice among the Nagas. Though polygamy is not encouraged in many of the Naga tribes, some tribes such as in Konyak tribe polygamy is widely accepted and child marriage is also practiced among the Konyak Nagas. However, polyandry is unknown to the Nagas. Endogamy is encouraged for the security and help in times of need but exogamy is also found regularly among the Nagas.
         In the family, father is the head and mother assists the father in all the family matters i.e., the family system is patriarchal in the Naga society. Concerning the family of the Nagas, Dr. A. Bendangyapang Ao a Naga historian observes, “The family is the smallest unit of a clan, so is a social institution... a nucleus from which emerged the strength of the village polity. The strength of social life possible begins with the family and each family is a good social unit.” In some tribes, joint family system is practiced but some do not. A family can be without a mother, father, or children, as long as the member of that family pays tax or represents as a household it is counted as a family unit and part of society though it is incomplete.
v.      The status of woman and children: Women and children are under the guidance of the husbands and parents. Basically, the Naga society is male-dominated and women are less privileged comparing to men. Though women are allowed to mingle with the men in the society, men for all the major decision-makings control them. Woman does not represent for property ownership and it is in the hands of sons or male members of the family. Woman participates in the social affairs not exactly as leaders, which means privilege of having equal rights with the male members in the society is denied. The parents feel more joyful when a baby boy is born to them. No female child is considered as heir in the family except the male member. Consequently, female members are sidelined in the family and society as well from all important privileges abreast male members such as ownership, leadership, etc. However, comparing to many other societies or cultures the Naga women enjoy more freedom. On Naga women Prof. C. V. F-Haimendorf said, “Many women in more civilised parts of India or Burma may well envy the women of Naga Hills their high status and their free life and happy life; and if you measure... the cultural level of a people by the social position and personal tradition of its women, you will think twice before looking down on the Nagas as ‘savages.’”
   Elder women are responsible to train up the younger ones. Even though they are inferior to the male members, they do not experience severe social evils such as sati, infanticide, human sacrifice, etc. Children are considered as blessing or good fortune for the family. They are nurtured well at home until they attain their puberty and when they reach puberty, they are to mingle in the social affairs from the platform of the Morung. Though female children are not considered heir of the family, they enjoy freedom and rights up to some extent. They are free to mingle with the male members and play games together. Children are also counted as one of the targets during war and it is a heroic act to take the heads of children as they are well protected. They are, in fact, safe in the hands of the elders and parents.
vi.      Food habits: The Nagas are non-vegetarian and they live on both vegetables and meat. Rice and Phet (traditional rice beer) are primary food and Nagas consume several types of vegetables and meat, which are uncommon for many other outside people. The Nagas eat almost all types of animals and no animal seems inedible before the Nagas. They also live on agricultural products and domestic animals. Some of the Naga delicacies are vipheng khёmit, bamboo shoot dish, dry meat pickle with extreme hot King chili, etc. Pork, chicken, fish, beef and wild animal’s meat are some of their favorite. Mithun is another special item for the Nagas. Wholesome foods that the Nagas consume could be one of the reasons that they usually appear strong and healthy physically as observed by the outside people.
vii.      Headhunting: The Nagas are also widely known as headhunters to the outsiders. A British official Grand Brown reports, “They [Nagas] are simpler and wilder than the Chins, and to outsiders their most striking characteristics are a dislike of clothes and a craving for human heads.” It is a social practice that the Nagas perform to gain respect, power and honor as well as fame. Headhunting is understood in many ways and carries several meanings to the Nagas. R. N. Haldipur rightly observes that headhunting is “The mainspring of their (Nagas) lives and their activities and behavior were inextricably woven round this practice.”  It is also an achievement that determines the status of a man in the society. For the Nagas, a man to be honored or complete he must have at least brought an enemy’s head in lifetime. The one who has more enemies’ heads has a higher status in the society and is well honored. It is also believed that bringing enemy’s head to the village is a sign of good luck for the bountiful harvest, prosperity and it has a religious symbol too. It is also said that enemies’ heads can appease the wrath of malevolent spirits and remove the misfortune from the people.
viii.      Ethics, festivals and feasts of merit: Alike the people of other communities, the Nagas also observe and practice traditional ethics, which is rooted and born in the Naga soil. The Nagas are free and frank. Helping one another is one of the marking characteristics of the Nagas.  Brown reports about the Nagas, “As a people they are neither insolvent nor cringing, and if they think they are wronged by any order they will say so plainly. It is these qualities of frankness, cheerfulness, hospitality, and obedience which have endeared them long enough to obtain knowledge of them and their ways.”
The Nagas maintain loyalty, sincerity and faithfulness practically. During the time of the British rule, many British officers testified and noted “Nagas never lie!” Respecting the elders, helping the poor and needy, looking after the aged and care for the nature are remarkably some of the traditional ethics of the Nagas. In Nagaland, right from the ancient time no local bagger has been heard or seen at any time. Scholars observe that the reason could be care for one another in times of need and belief in the dignity of work by every individual. Theft, lie and rape are always condemned. (Rape was not found in the past). Murder of the fellow beings and inflicting pain on the animals are also considered unethical for the Nagas. To be ethical for a person, s/he has to obey the customary laws set up by the society. Belief and practice in taboo and totem has a profound influence in shaping the Naga traditional concept of ethics. The traditional folktales are also an important aspect in understanding the Naga ethics as they give background for the entire phenomenon.
Nagaland is also known as a land of festivals. The Nagas alike other Tribal people have several festivals according to the seasons and occasions. Each tribe has each unique festival and the festivals are celebrated with several entertainments such as dances, songs, sports and games, and competitions. There are also different types of festivals observed by the Nagas. Some are dedicated to the Supreme Being, the spirits and deities. Some are also observed for the victory, success and thanksgiving occasions. Among all the festivals, Naga New Year festival celebration is the one famous. In this festival, people can see the cultural life style and exhibition of the Nagas and traditional attires of the Nagas in different colors.
Observing Feasts of Merit is another interesting thing for the Nagas in particular. It is an honor on the part of the person who hosts it. Such feast is hosted by both the rich and poor. Feast has both social concern and religious symbol, which means to commemorate their names in the society as well as to appease and please the spirits they worship. It is believed that the blessing of feast well hosted will bear fruits for the coming generations and even after death in the next life. There are several types of feasts that the Nagas observe to name a few, Bull feast, Mithun feast, pig feast etc. It is a type of charity the Nagas practice in the society for the poor and needy.
During the celebrations of feasts, villages and houses of the donors are well decorated with different types of decorative items such as flowers, animals’ skulls and Hornbill feathers. Singing songs, dancing, playing games, traditional sports such as wrestling, javelin throw, high jump and several types of entertainments are conducted during the celebrations. Feasts are observed from one day to one week depending on the finance and requirement. During the celebrations one can notice the villagers well dressed with shawls, clothes and precious ornaments. Several animals are also butchered for the feasts and drinking of Phet and making merry are well participated by the villagers. 
viii.a. Naga Traditional New Year Festival
Naga Traditional New Year Festival is celebrated in every Naga village from time immemorial. It is celebrated usually after the harvest and before starting the farming activities again. And it is celebrated on different days so that one village can go and participate in another village's festival. This festival is a value and an important festival for all the Nagas. During this festival, they share not only their experences in the last whole year but also discuss for the farming activies in the next year. It is a time that they make clear the account of debts. Beside, they make prayers to have good crops and fair climate and to be freed from all kinds of sickness and epidamic. It was in this festival, the family members, relatives and friends from far and near happily meet with each other. In this festival, we the Nagas sing melodious songs and folk dances that mark our tratition and culture.
We learned the lessons from our past difficulties and we are proud of our success that we have achieved. We eat and drink together; we sing and dance together; we lovingly make fun of each other and solve big and small problems. This festival was celebrated by way of making friendship and strenghtening the unity of the people. Having seen a good result, Naga Traditional New Year Festival was celebrated in township level as well since 1956-57. But in the year 1990, celebrating on different day and in different place was evaluated as having weak friendship and unity of the people group. Naga national leaders resolved to celebrate it on January 15 as the main but begins on 13 with the arrival of the folkdancers. Since 1993, Naga Traditional New Year Festival has been celebrating with the support of the state  and the state leaders themselves have been attending it. A sad thing is that this festival is not allowed to be celebrated in Khamti and Homlin which are considered to be under Naga territory. The Junta knowingly does not allow and states that these two important towns are not included in Naga territory. Therefore, it is celebrated by turn in the hill towns like Layshi, Lahe, Namyun the reason isto have more solidarity and to do regional development in the areas where there is very less development. Though the junta government charges a good amount of tax and entry fees, nothing big visible is found thus far apart from some pigaxe, hoes and daos saying that the Nagas are still in need of these. But for this festival, from which the junta makes a lot of bucks, many Naga villagers are called for forced labor without any pay. But in return the Nagas are left miserably!
ix.      Sports, games and entertainments: Sports, games and different types of entertainments are not alien to the Nagas. They are fond of practicing such activities in their social life. During their leisure times, both the old and young gather for the entertainments. All the villagers join hands together for the celebrations. The games and sports the Nagas practice are to name a few, wrestling which is now a national game, tug of war, javelin throw, high jump, shot put, running race etc. Music, singing songs, reciting poem, dance, folktales and merry making are so common among the Nagas. They are important for the Nagas as they shape the lifestyle of the Nagas in many ways. In fact, it is an intrinsic part of the Naga society. 

How the Nagas Governed their Villages and People: Political Aspect
 Village Administration
Since, the highest civilization, which the Nagas had developed in the past, is village civilization; it is good to have a glance at the village administration in order to understand the political structure of the Nagas. Therefore, we present here about how the Nagas governed their village and society in the past. We give here emphasis on the traditional political structure of the Nagas in the past as the present scenario is getting away from that of the past. However, we will include later about the changes and developments taking place at modern time.
 i.      Village chief and council: In the past, the Naga villages are independent of each other. Each village is self-governed in all the affairs without the intervention of the outsiders. The chief known as Dubashi with the council of the elders who represent the families, clans and khels heads every village. In some tribes, leadership is hereditary and some are selected based on the ability and efficiency of the candidate. R. Horam a Naga historian compares that the Naga villages are more or less similar to that of ancient Greek city-states. Further, P. Wangsa points out that “Every village has its autonomous power and the common people enjoyed peace and harmony under their chief or village elders.” The Naga way of governing the society is highly democratic even though the Nagas have been living in an isolated world without contact with the outside world. Yet, women are not included in the ruling committee. Thus, Dr. Longchar describes as, “Gerontocratic form of government.” However, it is the fact that the democratic nature of the Nagas is so vividly portrayed among all the Nagas. Concerning the democratic nature of the Nagas a British Captain John Butler observes, “Every man follows the dictates of his own will, a form of the purest democracy which is very difficult to conceive of as existing even for a single day,” says J. H. Hutton.
ii.      The Morung as the wing of village council: The Morung is an important aspect in the Naga village administration. It stands as the wing of the village council in dealing with the affairs in the village. All the matters and problems are brought before the chief of the village and the members of the Morung along with the chief are involved in solving the issues. The Morung members are also privileged to suggest and share their opinions and desires for honorable solutions. In any way, the Morung stands as the powerful force for the village administration and security.
iii.      Law and order: Village authority is responsible in order to maintain law and order in the society. This duty is, in fact, vested upon all the members of the society. Law codes which are passed down from generation to generation are maintained orally. The customary laws set by the society are well maintained without partiality in those days. The criminals are punished according to their crimes without partiality. Some are excommunicated from the village, but for some with a considerable compensation. No criminal is exempted from his/her guilt unless the consequence is faced. The village chief and elders always look for peace and tranquility in the society in order to ensure security and prosperity and safeguard the people in the village in all the fields.
iv.      Neighbor relation and warfare: The relation with the neighbor is not much because the Naga area was a watertight community without much contact with the outside world. They were just confined in the community of their own. The Nagas maintained an isolated lifestyle with the other people and never allowed any stranger to pass by their territory. There are several records of wars, battles and raids launched upon the neighbors due to bypassing and invasion. They were not subjugated by any other foreign forces but left as just free people. In fact, the relationship with the neighbors was not in good terms for some centuries. Among which the Ahoms (Tai Shans) who during 13th century C. E migrated to Assam from Thailand via Myanmar are famous. The relationship between the Nagas and Tai Shans is both hostile and friendly and remarkable. Raids from both sides are launched upon one another when one gets the upper hands. Constant raids are exchanged upon each other until they realize the meaning of peaceful co-existence and neighborhood.  One of the main reasons for raids and attacks is that they sheltered some of the ex-communicated tribes due to witchcraft practices and let them stop paying tributes and taxes to the other landlord Naga tribes (cf. Brown: 1910) . However, the Tai Shans and Nagas did not rule over each other.
It is true that the Nagas also had some relations with Burmese , Meiteis nd Kachins. Sometimes war and raids mark the relation with them. However, there are also records, which show that they maintain a good relation as good neighbors. For helping one another in times of need and for business purposes they realized a friendly neighborhood in the later periods. The Nagas had close relation with the Kachins in the North Eastern part. The relation between the Nagas and the Kachins is marked with a good diplomacy and helping hands to each other in times of needs. But with the Chins and Kukis, the Nagas did not have a good friendship in the past. Rather they were seen engaged in war and battle, defending from their invasion and raids conducted upon them.
In the later period, the Nagas were exposed to the British forces and  resulted in war against each other. The British people did not want to include the Nagas under their administrative areas but maintained as their “Political frontiers,” (Brown: 1910) for some time. However, due to constant raids from the Nagas upon their occupied territories the British Government tried to invade and control the Nagas Hills. Only 30% of the total area of  both Western and Eastern Nagaland fell in the hands of the British people and the rest were left just as before. Generally, they described the Naga Hills as “excluded areas from the British administration.” However, the British-Naga relationship ended when the two Sates India and Burma got their independence in 1947 and 1948.


           [1] The term “Makury” is the correct one, which is usually misspelled as Makware, Makhorey, Mekuri or Makuri.
[2] The name “Nokko” is the original name by which the people of the tribe is referred to but starting from some years back they began to claim as Khiamniungan and it still needs official confirmation.
[3] The name “Tangkhul” seems inappropriate for this tribe and  also majority of the members adhere to claim as Somra rather than Tangkhul. However, there are also some who claim that this tribe should be called as Eastern Tangkhul.
[4] The name “Tang Shang” is the new coinage for the former names Pangmi and Heimi, which is comprised of more than 54 sub-dialect groups residing in both India and Myanmar.
[5] The main reason they were being attacked is that they were known for practicing black magic and witch craft which is usually punished by death and excommunication among the Nagas. Later, they were well protected by the British government as they paid their tribute to the British other than the Makury headhunters (cf. Brown, 1910)
[6] Some of the names are also mentioned in the work of Grand Brown, Upper Chindwin Gazetteer, Vol A, 1910). At present, these tribes officially claim to be Red Shans. But many have begun to realize the fact that they are none other than the Nagas.
[7] Some of the townships like Phakant, Phaungpyin, Kalaywa etc are not mentioned here as these townships are out of Naga territory presently. Actually, Kalaywa was found included in the past, now it is located in Burmese area, populated by the Burmses. There seems no way to drag it into the Naga map but we still hope to be included as it belongs to us, which can be justified historically.