The turn-out at Hornbill Festival 2017 recorded 2.43 lakh visitors in Nagaland. Annually, we have unceasingly been celebrating and honouring the past glory and culture of our forefathers that prevailed prior to colonialism. And it looks like we are doing a great job of it too, while curating this pre-colonial past as a strong identity marker for ourselves. However, as time passes and each succeeding year adds on to form Nagaland’s more recent past, what strikes the mind is - How long can we hope to keep on glorifying only our past glory? Can we also find a reason for our future generations to celebrate the past that we are now creating for them?
Glory or Vain Glory of Our Naga Past?
Looking at the yesteryears achievements of our forefathers, we feel great! It is joyful to rejoice in our past glory. It is a delightful treat to the heart to learn how our forefathers fought and won battles – triumphed, cherished and lived their lives with such admirable principles of honesty, bravery, hard work and unity. It truly brings such bliss and pride to celebrate our past success. After all, there is nothing wrong in feasting upon erstwhile accomplishments. We can proudly marvel at being called ‘children of the head hunters’ because they were good at what they did, doing it with indistinguishable courage and earned respect.
Our forefathers have done great things, and have laid a prosperous foundation for the future generations of which we can always be proud. However, while we sing through this, let us halt for a minute and ask ourselves a few questions – ‘Have we become too comfortable living in our past glories?’ ‘Are we doing anything more or at least enough for today?’ Or ‘Have we become too arrogant and lazy?’ ‘Do we realise we can also make history?’
While we ponder upon these thoughts, let us take a glimpse at the valuable principles our ancestors maintained that earned them unquestionable honour, which they wore around their neck with elegance, not only for themselves, but even to the extent of us – their children – to be recognized because of their great deed.
● For sure, honesty is one of the qualities they always upheld. We have learned from legends how they kept promises among themselves, a friend promising another not to leave each other at the battlefield even at the cost of their lives. We have been told stories of how a man would carry an injured one or the body of a friend without the head to the village – they truly lived up to their words. Not just to their fellow men, but also with their enemies, their integrity was so strong that they never cheated on agreements and honoured the same made between them.
● Bravery of our forefathers is another very commendable characteristic. But, what was it that drove them to be very courageous? Well, we see that it was their determination and discipline – once they made up their mind to go ahead with any work they made sure that it’s done. No matter what situation they met with in life – sickness, turmoil, loss, - nothing could stop them. The saying, “If you have discipline, drive and determination nothing is impossible,” by Dana Linn Bailey suits them very well.
● Along with the laudable trademarks mentioned above we can also add the quality of exceptional hard work our forefathers always maintained. They did not mind starvation and thirst for a short period, instead they worked very hard. If they could earn one today, they worked harder to earn two the next day and so on. After a certain point, this day-to-day collection led them to richness. They knew momentary suffering could not stop them and the reward would be worth the sweat.
● Another attribute of our ancestors worth mentioning was the unity they upheld. The belief and practices the village had was always regarded and maintained by every villager without doubt and question. It was not only within the village, but one village would pursue another to live in harmony. This was done by killing pigs and equally sharing them amongst the villages with the promise to live in peace with one another.
It is obvious that men and women of such degree of attributes surely have earned their right to be respected in every aspect of life. All those virtues and values our forefathers believed and acted out in their everyday walk of life, certainly teaches us that there is something to be learned from them for our own benefit.
Having said all this, let us come back to the questions raised earlier– ‘Do we think we can safely say that the present generation is also more or less the same as our ancestors?’ Observing the current scenario ( forgive the pessimism here), it feels like many of us, Nagas, have become too laid back, blinded by our own greed and selfishness. We have become too comfortable to see the wrongs that are eating away our society. Even if we happen to see it, our voices just turn into whispers, lost in thin air.
One of the main concerns of our State is corruption. No doubt, corruption is prevalent in almost all the States of the world, but that does not mean it cannot be stopped or contained. For instance, general election is just around the corner, and we already have heard of stories where one party threatens the other. More appalling is how brothers forget to show grace and love in their craving for power. It would be unfair to forget how a few are working hard to put sense into the mind of the people, to mention one or two - the clean election campaign, ACAUT etc.
Can we Nagas do the right thing? Yes, we can by coming together, and doing the right thing for all the good that is needed to happen in our land. So, how about we add more value and glamour to the necklace of respect our forefathers have earned? We have two choices, either we can sit back, relax and watch ourselves become a part of the disease and pretend like everything is well or stand up, fight and become a part of the cure. We do not want to die of this plague, therefore, it is time we wake up and be acquainted with what is the need of the hour, keeping in mind we do this because we deserve so for a better today and tomorrow.
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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: email@example.com.