Sep 27, 2011

Nagalim: Seminar on Preservation of Naga Oral Tradition

On Friday [23 September, 2011] a two-day state level research seminar on ‘Naga traditional and cultural customary’ started.

Below is an article published by Nagaland Post

Two-day state level research seminar on ‘Naga traditional and cultural customary’ started Friday at Jakhalu building Dimapur. The inaugural programme was attended by social activists, researchers, academicians and representatives from different tribes.

Speaking as the chief guest, K.K Sema (IAS) Rtd commissioner and secretary art and culture department dwelt at length on Naga value system, how Naga festivals played an important role in shaping what Nagas are all about and how Nagas today are at crossroad.

He said, when traditionally there was no written record or history on Nagas, it was the oral history that perhaps related on the Naga value system from one generation to the other. 

He also pointed out that oral tradition lost its value with the advent of Christianity and that Nagas are at a crossroad unsure of whether to follow the Naga customs and traditions or the modern system of administration. 

“It is when we as a people have to come together with all the varied customs, culture and tradition that each is identically different from the other, then comes the problem of what kind of customs and traditions to actually follow even though Naga customary law are given due recognition in the form of constitutional recognition for our customary rights,” he said.

“If we were to think of ourselves as people we don’t know who we are, where we came from, we don’t know who gave the nomenclature called the ‘Nagas’ here comes the question of identity crises and the inability to stand up and say we are from a particular community.”

Further stressing on the standard comment Nagas receive for their hospitable nature, Sema said Nagas did not become hospitable in a day, but it was the cultural and the traditional value nurtured by ancestors which are expressed in simple festivals that are celebrated.

He lamented that Nagas often fail to acknowledge the value system preserved by the forefathers. On women reservation, Sema said it was the Hohos who wanted to concentrate on giving women the right opportunity and further asked as to why women want reservation when in reality they were free to do as they wished.

He also questioned as to whether contesting for election was the only way to show a woman’s capability when there were so many areas where women could outshine others.

“This reservation can only reduce the womenfolk into small hole of 33% reservation which would be politically messed up with “my favourite women”, political connection etc. Womenfolk must get rid of the mind block syndrome and must believe that you are as good as anybody in the community or state,” Sema said.

Director of indigenous cultural society Nagaland (ICSN) Dr. Hesheto Y. Chishi in his key note address said bifurcated culture of traditional Nagas and western culture introduced by American Baptist missionaries and British colonial power have resulted in  nothing constructive but a conflict of culture.

According to the director, Nagaland being a Christian dominated state in India becomes the main victim of the cultural conflict and the untoward environment has demanded attention of many intellectuals of different people and professionals, both Nagas and outsiders. He stated that study on the prevailing conflict between Naga polity and modern polity would lead to possible solutions to end such problems.

The ongoing seminar with the objective to link oral literature with written literature technically is jointly organised by indigenous cultural society Nagaland  and North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC) Dimapur.

ICSC is a wholistic and cultural centered NGO that engages in various activities to congregate and demand Naga socio religious verve.