Culture and Rural and Urban Nagas – Heninle Magh, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Commerce

“Culture is the intersection of people and life itself. It’s how we deal with life, love, death, birth, disappointment. All of that is expressed in culture.” Wendell Pierce.

Culture and Rural and Urban Nagas

Culture defines who a person was or is, in a society. It resides in the heart and soul of the individual. Without it, and the comparative choice it entails, society is in for a chaotic subsistence. Every society is set apart with a collective quality and diverse set of culture, show casting the history of their ways of life that came into being; the present, which is the reflection of the past with the influence of the progressing world; the future, for which we are living a history today. The basic component of culture in any society lies in its language, customs, and religion etc. The knack to pass on the information across generations by means other than genetic exchange is a unique gift that we human possess, and that gift is the reason human beings are able to record, learn, and know the facts and purpose of our existence.

Every civilization undergoes transformation and progress, a step at the time, but the arrival of the colonial force and the advent of the Christian Missionaries to our Hills transformed us, and hurled us many steps forward at a go In the beginning of the previous century we were head-hunters, hunting napes of person from other villages, to free their soul, as was believed then, but by the end of the century we were a totally new entity, which is providential and, as such, the society that we are now.
When we imagine culture in our land, an image of half-naked men with spears and machete lining up, singing war-cry in unison, dancing in a well-choreographed manner comes to mind. Nagas in general are blessed with assorted groups of people with rich cultural heritage, and culture, as discussed, comprises of all the different components that makes a society what it is. Culture does not imply only the past, but the present days and ways of life. The culture of Nagas would be characterized by the languages and dialects that we speak, customs and traditions we observe and practice, literatures and religious beliefs, and so on. So when we visualize, the beauty of these multitudes of society, it is like a poem and a sight to behold.
Discussing about culture always involves the need of preserving the same, which is the core of continuance of history. The varied life is celebrated throughout the year, by different tribes, and although it is almost an impossibility to live life like the way we celebrate – it is impractical to go to office dressed in our traditional attire-, nonetheless, it is good to know our roots, our present, and the future that we are headed toward. The technological advancement and progress of the society was making us, less aware of our traditional roots, but the generous overtures from Nagaland government, which need to be lauded, for they have brought the hues of the various tribes which is celebrated during the first week of December every year. Through this, the culture of Nagas is known world-wide, making the young Nagas aware of our identity. My wish, if I may, is that, in the years to come, the Nagas from other states and country be invited to the Hornbill Festival so it becomes a complete Naga Affair. The preservation of the past traditions and customs can also be retained by inoculating it into school curriculum so the youngsters can learn it from the early stage of their life.
The present day Nagas are broadly classified into two categories: the Rural Nagas and the Urban Nagas. Every individual belongs to a specific clan, village, area, etc. The rural Nagas encompass the majority of the population, whose main occupations are agriculture and farming and the Urban Nagas are those that reside in towns, holding government jobs or businesses. While it is not the case now, but back then, Nagas were known for our hardworking, bravery, honesty, and hospitality, etc. The current crops of Nagas, like any other society is an assortment of all these personalities and finding a person with all the qualities mentioned would be like finding a needle in the hays. The need of the hour is to go back to our roots, not practically, but psychologically and regain our past integrity.
The present young Nagas are a hybrid of the past and the present, with influence of western countries and neighboring developed Asian countries. The inner political and social conflict has taken its toll, such that, the young Nagas of the present generation are perplexed as to what the future hold. Nevertheless, there are many brave hearted youngsters that are making their presence known to the world, through their achievement. Unemployment, like anywhere is also one cross the Nagas bear, due to lack of proper infrastructural facilities. The lack of productive diversion has also led many  youths to the path of self-destruction, in the form of alcohol and drug abuse. The hard working trait of our forefathers need to be revived so that we start pulling up our socks and rely on Government jobs, but to believe in the dignity of labour, and overcome our frustration and helplessness.
To talk about modern society is to talk about the impact of the IT revolution and the impact it has on our society. Ours, not being a productive society, many youths after their studies goes to cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc., to earn their livelihood, and return home with both the positive and negative trait, learned there. The point being, the wisdom that is within each of us should try to differentiate the good from the bad for a positive society. With social networking sites, the Nagas of today are no longer afraid of corruption or remain downtrodden, as was the Horticulture fiasco recently. Social networking sites like Facebook are playing a major role in invoking awareness in the youth of Nagaland. Popular blogs like The Naga Blog plays a crucial role in pressuring or exposing corruptions and injustice. The negative point, however, is the mismanagement of time for using such sites, especially from college and school going students, which need to be addressed by their respective guardians or parents.
Paulo Coelho’s words sums it all “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.” Let us all play an equal part in the cultural development for a progressive and harmonious society.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”. 

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