Nagaland – The Land of Festivals

Before venturing to a place you’ve never heard or might have heard ridiculous rumors about, its better you get the facts right. Nagaland is one such place, tucked away in the Northeastern region of India it’s one of those places where rumors and self-made notions are abundant. Internet and the concept of “A smaller world” have cut down on many of such rumors.

Here are some of the things you need to be aware of if you are visiting Nagaland:

History of Nagaland or Naga’s land and the Political Conflict:

It might be a shocker to most but Naga’s declared themselves as an Independent state on August 14th, 1947 (Celebrated till date) a day ahead of India, thus started the Political unrest in the region a long bloody past.

In 1929, a Memorandum was submitted to the Simon Statutory Commission, requesting that the Nagas be exempt from reforms and new taxes proposed in British India, should be left alone to determine their own future.

From 1929 to 1935, the understanding of sovereignty by Nagas was ‘self-rule’ based on traditional territorial definition. From 1935 to 1945, Nagas were merely asking for autonomy within Assam. In response to the Naga memorandum to Simon Commission, the British House of Commons decreed that the Naga Hills ought to be kept outside the purview of the New Constitution; the Government of India Act, 1935 and ordered Naga areas as Excluded Area; meaning outside the administration of British India government. Thereafter from 1 April 1937, it was brought under the direct administration of the Crown through Her Majesty’s representative; the Governor of Assam province” (Source Wiki)

The political unrest was entirely based on the fact that India did not fancy the idea of the Naga’s as a Separate country, there are many accounts of atrocities, war crimes etc. meted out to the Naga’s which are proven facts. Till date there is no acknowledgement of such acts from India. Thus, the love hate relationship between the Naga’s and India. Don’t be surprised if you come across Naga’s denying being Indians, the feeling is still strong till date and the reason as above. India has imposed the much hated and questionable law called AFSPA (Armed forces special Power Act) which allows the Army to shoot, Kill, Capture without any penalty. This law is slowly capturing International attention due to the atrocities and crimes the Military has committed under its pretext.

Naga territories are divided by two countries, one in Myanmar and the other in India where it is further segregated in States of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal. The recent peace accord signed between India and the Naga Political Groups on August 3rd, 2015 was seen as a welcome move but one of the major drawbacks of the peace accord is the exclusion of other Naga Political groups. Talks are currently going on to bring all the stakeholders for a final solution. More details here: Naga People

Language, Religion, Food and Drinks

English is the prominent language in Nagaland, being the official language of the state. Then comes Tribal language, each tribe (17 tribes) have different dialects. Thereafter comes the infamous language called “Nagamese” mixture of some Naga words with Assamese. The purpose of this language was purely for trading purpose between the Naga’s and the Ahom’s (Assam). Nagamese is commonly used to interact between different tribes. So, if you are from Bengal or Assam, you won’t have a problem getting around 🙂 so is for English speaking people.

Nagaland is considered as a Christian State with 90% of the total population practicing the faith and the rest divided among different religions. Before the advent of Christianity Naga’s were once fierce warriors and Head Hunting between tribes was very prominent, thanks to Christianity that has completely stopped.

Nagaland in short is a heaven for Non-vegetarians, Vegetarians too. Pork and Beef the most consumed meat followed by many different Bush meats. It’s a place rich in Flora and Fauna. The food is really spicy not surprising because the Naga Chili one of the world Hottest Chili is part and package of the meal.

Rice Beer is the most common and the famous drink you will find in Nagaland and it’s a must have for anyone leaving aside the assorted drinks. FYI, Nagaland is considered a Dry state meaning you will find no Beer, Vodka or your precious Whisky and Rum. NLTP Act (Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition) Act was imposed after much opposition from the Church Bodies mainly NBCC (Nagaland Baptist Church Council). But don’t worry just like America Failed to do so or any other state tried, this Act is also a failure in Nagaland.

The only difference between Nagaland and those states who have tried and failed is that they acknowledge their failure and abolish such laws but Nagaland in all its glamour ignores the fact. Meanwhile Nagaland Government has admitted they are not able to properly implement this ACT. NBCC on the other hand is turning a blind eye and the inhabitants shelling out more than they should.

Trust me, you will savor and cherish even the worst quality of Drinks in Nagaland 🙂

Festivals:

Each tribe has one major festival and celebrated all throughout the year in different months. Thus, the caption “Land of Festivals”. One of the renowned festivals in Nagaland, Northeast, India and reaching the International lime light is the Hornbill Festival. This festival brings all the different tribes in one location (Kisama 10KM away from Kohima capital of Nagaland) where the tribes showcase their Traditional songs, Dances, Games and their culture. This is a must visit for those who wants a glimpse of Naga’s Land and the inhabiting people. The festival not only features Naga tribes but of other states who are invited each year. The Festival is celebrated from Dec 1-10 each year (Due to constrain talks are going on to reduce it to 7 days)

Hornbill International Rock Contest is also part of the festival which has garnered international attention, there are many sub festivals clubbed together with Hornbill Festival and it’s a guaranteed fun time for any tourist. You can reach Nagaland through Air, Railway and Road. Home stay is more recommended than Hotels or lodges.

DO NOTE: If you planning to visit, kindly get your ILP (Inner Line Permit) done from Nagaland house Kolkata or any other Nagaland House close to you.

Way of Life

Naga’s are way influenced by American Way of life, which is good in one way bad in other. Korean culture is also well accepted then follows the Japanese culture, Anime is widely followed by youngsters and Anime festivals organized by Nagaland Anime Junkies (NAJ) are one such example of how well versed the youngster are with the outside world.

Though the assimilation of culture is considered good, one drawback is the lack of learning their own culture. Importance is given more to other culture rather than their own. Only time will tell how this will end up but for now it all looks good.

Women have an equal /more or Same amount of privilege as men do, there is no classification among men and women. Crime ratio against women are very low and you will be on the wrong side in Nagaland if you are not in line with “respecting women” notion. Though there are some concerns and areas where Naga women need more exposure but they are not left aside.

State Government:

Corruption is not a new thing in this world but if you want to measure the level of Corruption, Nagaland will be one of the most corrupted places on earth. There are basically no roads, they are not Maintained, Infrastructures are crumbling down, Funds are misused, Govt. schools are left in shambles (Private Schools are doing good) Backdoor Appointments etc you name it and all the categories of Corruption will be found in Nagaland.

Nagaland Politics lacks Fresh faces, the ones running the show are outdated and corrupted to the core. Seeing is believing so you be the judge of it when you do visit Nagaland. But don’t let this stop you because amidst all that you will find joy in what little place the land has to offer and Naga’s are known for their hospitality and honesty.

NGO’s

Nagaland is filled with NGO’s from Tribal organization to small and big-time Organizations. Most of them were formed based on the needs of the people and somehow many have strayed away from their goal.
Some of the renowned NGO’s are:
1. NSF (Naga Student Federation)- one of the oldest and strongest Student Body in Nagaland. Somehow over the years they have lost touch of their basic responsibility and are currently not in a good place.
2. Naga Hoho- Representative from each tribe forming a group and voicing the Opinions of its people (hope that’s still the case)
3. ACAUT (Action Against Unabated Taxation)- Recently formed but garnered much public support
4. Naga Mothers Association (NMA): Women representative from all the tribes. etc.

Social Media

With the advent of Social Media, it has given a platform to the Naga’s to share their opinions and concerns right from the comfort of their home. Facebook, Twitter, Kik etc you name it and they are on the list.
Facebook is the most widely used Social Networking site. There are many major Naga Facebook Groups like The Naga Blog (TNB, one of the oldest and the first), The Naga Spear (TNS), The Naga Mirror (TNM) etc. with members more or less than 1 Million.

Places to Visit:

Nagaland is a heaven for Nature lovers and those who wants to run away from Concrete Jungle, some of the famous places are:

1. DzuKuo Valley (Trekking)
2. Japfu Mountain (Trekking)
3. Puliebadze(Trekking)
4. Mt. Saramati (Trekking)
5. Naga Hills
6. Dzuleke
7. Doyang River
8. Tourist village Tuophema
9. Khonoma Village
10. War Cemetery (2nd world war memorial)
11. State Museum etc.

Each District has something unique for tourist to enjoy and it all depends on how you plan and what you want to see, “Googling” will help you decide and if you know anyone from Nagaland they might just hook you up on one of your most memorable vacation.

This is just a brief intro on what Nagaland is like, where Nagaland Stands and What Nagaland has to offer. There are many other things like any other place or even more but for now hope this was informational.

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Atsung Imchen

Atsung Imchen is an IT professional based out in Kolkata, recently transferred from Bangalore. He is from the AO Naga tribe. He shares his articles in Nagaland local papers occasionally and is one of the Administrators Managing and contributing to one of the oldest and largest Facebook group from Nagaland named TNB (The Naga Blog) with over 1 million members and growing. Prefers not to beat around the bush nor believes in the “Politically correct” notion ?

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