EVENT A traditional festival of one of the Naga tribes held in the Capital gave a glimpse of the rich culture

“M an - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments, owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains” — the anonymous quote clearly defines tradition, something without which the seeds of future would cease to germinate. Nagaland, hailed as ‘Nag Bhumi' — the land of serpents, apart from its inhospitable terrain and profuse wildlife and vegetation, boasts of a tradition, as gallant as the mighty Himalayas. On November 7, the day which is celebrated as ‘TokhuEmong', a post-harvest festival of the Lotha Naga tribe, the capital too witnessed the festival held at Mavalankar Hall. Meant to invoke the blessings of God for an abundant harvest, the festival was organised by Kyong Welfare Forum, Delhi. There are, in all, 16 officially recognised tribes in Nagaland and Kyong, or more popularly Lotha Naga, is one such tribe. “Lotha Naga is the name given to us by outsiders, Kyong Naga is generally the name we use among ourselves. We have a population of more than one lakh. Lothas are from a district called Wokha. We have a literacy rate of almost 80 per cent. We are one of the most advanced, educated tribes,” said ZuchamoYanthan, Convener of the festival. The festival attempted to showcase Naga traditions through an authentic presentation of Lotha Naga folk dance and songs. In a competition, the couples walked the ramp attired in traditional costumes.

“The Nagas are known to be head hunters, after coming back victorious from the war front, they have this folk dance, which is a kind of a ritual. It's a victory war dance. The Lotha Naga costumes are very colourful. We have kept our traditions alive,” said Zuchamo. Quite prominent in the costumes, are figures of bulls and spheres, reminiscent of the rich warrior heritage, the Nagas are known for. “Mithun is the state animal of Nagaland just like we have the hornbill as our state bird. In the older days, Mithun was restricted to the rich upper class of Nagaland and is still treasured and celebrated by the Nagas in all our festivals,” stated Zuchamo.

Speaking on the occasion, L.Keivom, retired diplomat, and historian and writer was invited as the Chief Guest of the festival. He commented, “We Nagas have a rich cultural heritage. We are connected to our roots but we know and understand modern technology. We are educated and we must continue to educate our children, and equally shower them with the values our tradition has bestowed on us.”

SAURABH SINGH

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