Sunday, January 6, 2013

Will Nagas Maintain their Indigenous Traditions? A Tour of the Khonoma Village

Yesterday, Mike and I traveled about one hour outside of Kohima on a very rough dirt road to the Angami village of Khonoma. Khonoma sits on the ridge of the mountains and is blessed with ample water supply for its abundant rice paddy and vegetable harvests. 
Traditional circle where men would congregate, share stories,
and drink rice beer. In the distance, you can see the rice fields
where the women would work.

The village became well known for their successful defense against the British who invaded and eventually took over in 1876. 

Woman weaving male shawl. This particular design
commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Baptist
church in Khonoma

Today, Khonoma is quiet, beautifully kept, and villagers maintain many of the traditional Naga ways. The women weave and wear traditional shawls. Men hold all-male town meetings to manage the town affairs. People live in wooden houses with ornately carved doors and statues. Women continue to tend to the rice paddy fields. 

A picture of me in 2009 doing a similar style weaving done
 by women in Guatemala who trace their roots to the Maya.

Though the population appeared to be aging, there were still kids in the village and it does appear that these Nagas will continue many of their traditional ways. One always wonders how long that will last? Within Kohima, just one hour away, it feels like a different world. In Khonoma, few villagers speak English and instead are speaking their traditional Angami language, as well as Naga Mis -- which is the lingua franca of Nagaland, a tonal language that allows the Naga people to communicate across tribes.

We enjoyed a traditional Naga meal, prepared in a wood-fired kitchen. I am not a meat-lover, so it was not my favorite food. But the Nagas have always eaten lots of chiles and their cuisine is complex, consisting of smoked and fermented meats, bamboo shoots, and lots and lots of fatty pork.

Our lunch in Khonoma

Naga kitchen. Nagas will eat their meal around the fire (and stove)
while perched on stools.

Nagas hang their meats for up to 4-5 years to dry naturally,
without any additives.  

Nagas broil their pork and mix it with hot chiles.
The pork is very fatty.

Nagas keep their pigs right outside of their houses in
little houses and feed them daily. 
These greens are a type of cabbage that grown on a stalk.
Mike and I saw this same plant in abundance in Croatia.

After lunch, Mike and I went on a tour of our host's kitchen garden. He was growing all kinds of traditional herbs, including ginko, that had cures for malaria, kidney stones, high blood pressure, stomach aches, and diabetes. 
Our host was also keeping honey bees!

Throughout the village, Mike and I saw remnants of the tigers and elephants that used to live in the Naga hills. The hunting Nagas have killed off many animals, and recently their are efforts to ban hunting except at certain times of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, do you still use this blog? I'm a student in Scotland doing a massive project on Nagaland art, culture, tradition & mythology & would absolutely love some info from someone who's actually been there rather than have to rely on internet facts!