Thursday, 30 October 2014

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:”. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Balancing Act: Work and Play - Mughato. A. Aye, Class 11 (Arts)

Be it a working professional, a student or a stay-at-home mom, all of us are under immense pressure to perform to the best of our abilities. But every so often, even our professional, academic and domestic work requires a break into other recreational and extra-curricular activities to help us find the right balance between work and play. For students, we often mistake a good academic performance as the only measure of success. However, as educationists believe, true education is one that encompasses all round development in order to achieve one’s full potential. Even our children believe so, as this week’s feature reveals. Class 11 student Mughato A. Aye, winner of the Autumn Fest Essay Competition advocates the importance of extra-curricular activities in the lives of all students today.

Balancing Act: Work and Play

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, reads the proverb that carries a lot of weight. Students study a lot, trying hard to score well or get maximum marks in the exams and are rewarded by being promoted to the next class. That is the usual practice. But is the studying of printed and written material the only important thing for the all-round development of students? A student may be really good at scoring high marks in the exams but that does not guarantee that he will be able to speak properly or fluently, and if he is not able to speak properly or fluently, it shows that the student is not fully developed to face certain hurdles of life, and this problem may get magnified in the future and cause major problems for the student. There are other cases like some students being extremely good in studies but not interested in sports and proven to be physically inactive. Education is about the all-round development of the students, which means students should excel both physically and mentally. Studies and academic performance of the students are important, but the students must also be aware of what’s happening in the real world.

Exams and results are all part of education, but extra-curricular activities are important as they help in building a child’s personality, which is the necessary requirement of today’s fast and competitive era. Extra-curricular activities such as sports, debate, extempore, quiz, science and art exhibitions held in schools and colleges help the students by enabling them to develop their personality in an all-round manner. It also helps them by enabling them to handle various challenges, tasks and situations. Different extra-curricular activities help the students in different ways  by making the students think out of the box, learn team work, quick thinking and quick actions, match up to the competition and work under pressure. All these exercises and skills are useful in the future when the students take up jobs and deal with various daily challenges.  A student who is active in extra-curricular activities develops certain attributes like competitive spirit, co-operation, team leading and people management. All these qualities improve the student’s confidence and create a sense of achievement in him or her. Extra-curricular activities help the students keep fit and develop both physically and mentally.

Extra-curricular activities help the students learn new things, for instance, it brings different people with different culture, backgrounds, attitudes, traditions, etc. together. In such cases, all these different people become friends and exchange of views take place. This enables the students to learn new and different things enriching their knowledge and making them more knowledgeable. As mentioned, it is not only the exchange of ideas but even friendships are being forged and new relationships take place. This increases sociability which is an important attribute in the process of the development of the students’ personality. People’s ability to make friends or to become part of a group fuels confidence and this creates an atmosphere of liability among the people. Thus, sociability increases the confidence of the students.

Extra-curricular activities help the students to develop their intellectual self. It also helps the students to develop their talents. Extra-curricular activities are an absolute essential part of a students’ academic life. It is a good breather for the students from regular classroom teaching and helps to refresh their minds and concentrate better. Extra-curricular activities provide the students with an opportunity to take part in activities and areas depending upon their talents, skills, and interests. It is a way for the students to express themselves through the things they are best at.

Thus, students must not focus entirely only on their academic life, but also take part in extra-curricular activities. A student whose academic performance is poor may have the potential to excel in other fields. Education is all about the human’s physical, mental, aesthetic, and spiritual self. Extra-curricular activities provide various platforms for the students to improve themselves in different things and in different ways. Socializing with different people enables the students to gain ideas and knowledge about a variety of things. Extra-curricular activities build up, in a student, the qualities of working as a team. It helps the students to learn how to work as a ‘unit’ and be a team player. It is true that students have many talents which must be developed, and one of the best ways of showcasing them is through the organization of such extra-curricular activities.
(Winning Essay of the Autumn Fest Essay Competition 2014)
“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:”.

Friday, 17 October 2014

From Literature to Globalization - K. Musom Khiamniungan, 3rd Semester, English Honors

We may be a Naga, an assamese, an Indian or an American. Regardless of our nationality we are all connected by the very fact that we are all human.  Likewise, diverse areas like literature, creativity, career, peace and globalization are also linked directly and indirectly. Some student studying literature may wonder how reading dickens may influence society and bring peace. The student below tells us how literature can affect minds and ultimately society. 

From Literature to Globalization

All things have a connection to one another. They are either linked directly or indirectly creating a type of network. Such as the human body that consists of various organs that are connected directly or indirectly through other organs. This connection or link in the human body allows a person to function in an orderly and normal manner.All these organs have their own role to play, fulfilling the body activities and needs of an individual. Likewise, literature, creativity, career, peace and globalization are all linked to one another directly or indirectly. We cannot deny the fact that their existence is like a spider’s web. The outcome of one is the product of the other. Just as a spider’s web is connected, built in a systematic manner, literature, creativity, career, peace and globalization are also linked though not systematically.

Literature is any form of written work and can consist of poetry, prose, drama, and short stories. Through poetry, prose, drama, and short stories, literature can be an instrument to pass on culture, customs, beliefs and traditions. For instance, Charles Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ is a novel where the picture of society is depicted. He talks about the degradation of society, about corruption, exploitation of the lower class people. The novel gives us a true picture of the society during the Victorian era. Likewise,even Romantic writers like Jane Austen depicted the society of the Romantic era through herworks.Various works of literature can depict or depicts society of that era.

In order to create literature, one cannot simply dip the pen in the ink-pot and write. One needs creativity, a strong imaginative power and skill to paint down the ideas into literature. Creativity in the minds of the people has allowed them to achieve things in life.  Creativity can be seen in many early writers like William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Marlow, and modern writers like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens andothers. All these people created work in such a way that their works influenced people. Their influence did not stop just in the minds of the people. Infact, their works created a whole new idea changing the face of society.

Creativity is the ability to be imaginative, to come up with something new; it can either be of ideas or inventions. Anyone can try to write but only a creative person can create a literary work that has life. A person’s creativity can make one’s work come to life. Though not real, there is a feeling and presence of life. Creative minds, thus, brings new ideas and concepts, and with these ideas and concepts, a new being is born. Thus, creativity is a means to create literature that can influence people and bring about change. A creative man who propagates that woman should not go to college would not be appreciated even from the wildest nomads of all but if he uses his creative literature for promoting and protecting human ideals (i.e. peace), then every individual will appreciate his work irrespective of his political or territorial unit.

It can be said that the most creative person is the one who has the strongest imaginative power and this strong imaginative power can enable a person to create a career for oneself.Career is what one pursues to make a living out of it.  One cannot pursue a career in which he has no talent or creativity. Thus, creativity in an individual enables and allows him to paint down the ideas that he has in mind into works of literature. When these ideas and concepts are painted down into literary works, we cannot deny that one cannot make a career out of it. Many writers, both professional and unprofessional  make a living out of it.

Literature has played a major role in the spread of peace, through the ages. Various writers have contributed to society through their works on peaceful existence. Great man like Gandhiji had been inspired by writers like Tolstoy and David Thoreau to promote non-violence through which India achieved its independence. Globalization is an end because no writer wants to confine his work to himself. Literature, creativity, career, peace and globalization are thus inter-related though not systematically. A person writes a piece of literature through his creative mind and thus he is a good writer by career. Career is nothing but prolonged pursuing and building one’s occupation for sustenance. This piece of literature conceptualized a means of peace which simply means absence of war, where security, law and order prevail, and if this conceptualization of peace is successfully implanted in the present war-torn area, then this globalization and the relationship between the five terms are well established.

Every man of literature wants his work to be usefuland progressive for humanity. Easterine Kire, Temsula Ao and other writers from our Naga society has contributed to society in numerous ways through their works making the world a global village. Their literary work has connected us and the world making it seem like a tiny world.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Sound of ‘Naga’ Music - Buhiu B. Lam Khiamniungan, B.A. 5th Sem, English Hon.

Recently, there has been a slew of music videos being aired on Vh1 by local artists like Alo Wanth, Shalo Kent and more on the way like Purple Fusion etc. They are just some of the musically successful and talented bands that have made a name for themselves in the music industry, both at the national and international level. Music is a talent that Nagas have been naturally gifted with from the time of our forefathers, which just shows that with a lot of hard work and dedication our Nagas have the potential to go very far ahead.

The Sound of ‘Naga’ Music

Music is an essential ingredient of Naga culture. Our ancestors have been great lovers of 
music. Folk or traditional music is the music that the Nagas are rooted in. Since time 
immemorial, music has been an important asset to our culture. In the past folks learned 
songs and use of different musical instruments from elderly persons in the Morung or 
dormitory. Some of the indigenous musical instruments of the Nagas are the bamboo 
mouth-organ, the cup-violin, the bamboo flute, the trumpet, the drum etc. The songs 
including the musical instruments were sung and played mainly during festivals, feasts, 
ceremonies, funerals, victory in war etc.

The coming of Christianity is depicted as the turning point of music in Nagaland. The western missionaries opposed the use of folk songs as it was associated with the spirit of worship and rituals. The translated western hymnals were introduced and this led to the decline of folk music in many parts of the state, although not in totality. However, as a result of Western influence, church music gained popularity.

Music is also considered as the replacement of sounds of bullet and bombs in Nagaland. The hills of Nagaland were once filled with the sounds of crying and wailing, but with the introduction of music all those were replaced by the sounds of various forms of songs and music.

Today, the Naga youths take music very seriously. The birth of new artists, musicians and bands are witnessed everyday with some even making it to the international level. Some of the successful bands of Nagaland could be Alobo Naga And The Band (winner of 2012 Best Indian Act at MTV Europe Music Awards), Divine Connection (winner of MTV’s Rock,2010), Zowe Madrigal (The only neo-classical male voice group in the country led by Nise Meruno), Tetseo Sisters, Abiogenisis, Purple Fusion, etc.
In the year 2004, Nagaland came up with the idea of the Music Task Force (MTF) which aimed at creating music industry in the state and making music a profession. Very true to its aim, the MTF was able to elevate music to a new level and hence, it is the main pillar of development of music in Nagaland. The Handshake Concerts, The Hornbill Rock Beat Contest, The Naga Orpheus Hunt (Naga Idol) and other singing sensations are some of the proceeding projects under the Music Task Force.

In addition, the other institutions responsible for the development and promotion of music in Nagaland include‘The Nagaland Conservatory of Music’(headed by LipokmarTzudir and James Shikiye Swu), Hope Center, Mountain Music Academy, Music Awards of Nagaland (MAN, institute by Native Trax Society), Backyard Buzz, Indihut,. etc.

Music is also a form of oral tradition in Nagaland. The oral tradition of the Nagas are spoken, sung and in voice form namely chants, prayers, folktales, folklores, laments, cries, etc. Every oral tradition is connected to festivals, feast and ceremonies, and plays a significant role making the occasion more delightful and pleasant. Unlike the folktales, folklores, myths and legends that are retold and recorded in the printed books, the folk songs are transmitted to younger generations through seminars or programs in a practical form.

With the influence of other cultures, Naga artists and musicians adapt to various genres of music and are experiencing music in different ways. In the case of folk music, it is reconstructed, modified or blended with other genres and used in a better and more elaborate manner. Folk songs are also performed as opera performances, choir ensemble, rock fusions, etc. The influence of western and Asian music is greatly seen in the styles of composition, tunes and music arrangements.

At present, Nagas have been introduced to almost every type of music: from folk to modern contemporary music. Music has become a central and also an essential part of our culture with which we identify ourselves. We have uncountable bands, musicians and artists and there are still many emerging everyday. Unlike the olden days where music was only sort of a personal contentment, now it has gained social importance. Music in Nagaland is at an unlimited high. It is more than an entertainment or hobby but a profession. To conclude, we can also state that music has taken to playing a greater role as a means of change, a channel of peace, public awareness, for show-casting our culture and most importantly, it is responsible for helping to keep the oral tradition alive.

(Abridged version of a seminar paper presented at the in-house English Dept seminar titled “A Symposium on Naga Culture”)

The Missing Principles in Naga Society - Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Moral and ethical values as social categories are crucial for generating a sound culture in any given society. However, people tend t...