Retd IFS (RR-68)
The Mission School became great centres of Christian acculturation as opposed to Christian Imposition. To the pagan Villagers, the students appeared different in their demeanour, in their bearing, in their life style, in their talk and in their behaviour. The boys and girls raised from the Class Room from the Christian Hostel with extracurricular activities and Social Service in the Christian Mission Compound produced a caliber of life in the youths different from those raised in the traditional Life of Age-Group Team for field works and other necessary practical social Services of the Morung.
Formal Education in the Mission School was more attractive to the Youth and preferred the easier life than the life of work in the Field under Sun and Rain. The School brought the Youths in friendship and contact from a much wider Circle of Villages and Tribes than the smaller same Age group of the Village. When the boys and girls returned to their Villages during school vacations, the People saw them different from the other boys and girls of the Village.
The differences in the boys and girls raised from the two Systems were interesting: fresh and new in those raised from the Mission Schools. They were not objectionable to the Village Traditionalist and were even attractions more to the boys and girls of the native life. The beautiful songs the school boys and girls brought to village, electrified particularly the boys and girls of the Village. Christianity came to the Naga through his/her Freedom of Decision, Equality and enthusiasm of youth for a new life.
One of the important beauties of Christianity is its beautiful Music. Pagan Naga songs are mostly repetitions, monotonous if the meaning is not intelligible and there were language barriers between the many tribes. The beautiful Christian Songs transcended the language barrier of the Tribes. The Christian music is common to all the people and was a great factor in uniting the Minds of the Tribes.
The Naga express his zest for life in dances and songs. The traditional and cultural Song of the Village is often accounts of successful exploits in war, of success over enemies and adversaries and of course on Lovers.
Many of the pagan songs are war inspired and people pay attention to the Words more than the tune. There are Songs on other themes like Love, on Enthusiasm, Sadness, Loss, Pleasure and Friendship and on various other subjects of life. The songs of war exploits of one Village or one Tribe cannot be expressed in the presence of Members of the other Village or Tribe; beautiful Christian Songs became a uniting piece among all Nagas.
Expectedly the pagan Songs performed are more appropriate and inspiring in fullest and finest war regalia of native dress with decorative Cloth, spear, Daoh (machete) and in symbolic movements. Understandably most triumphant pagan songs are sung without any musical instruments except the Drum among the Aos and a few others.
The Zeliang Tribes however have perhaps the most beautiful social dances and songs. The songs are accompanied with interesting varieties of Steps, dances and intricate movements between groups of female and male dancers, between the females, between the males. The music is less repetitive starting from a slow motion of dance and tune increasing in crescendo and finally ending in a sudden end with great shout and drumming.
The Christian song on the other hand is not only sweet to the ear but also expresses the many emotions of the Faith. They are not repetitive though Choruses are common; the songs have great variations of sounds, pitch and timings. The whole congregations or a smaller Group can sing together; it is sung in Octet or Quartet or Duo or in Solo in the Church Service or in special occasions.
Individual Christians, boys and girl in casual happiness or to pass time sing without any special preparation or occasion; that greatly attracted the attention of the Pagan hearers. They are quite different from the Pagan songs villagers hear only on rare community occasions or festivities. It is these Christian songs and music that caught the attention of the boys and girls, young and old, the aged and the infirm in the Village that stirred the attractiveness of Christianity to the pagan Mind.
The Pagans first thought it is a waste of labour force to send their children to the School to study some small strange figures in the Paper. In every Village, nearly one third families do not produce enough Food grains from their cultivation to last the whole year. They would do works for the rich families and earn their livelihood.
Economically weak villager would rather send their children to work in the Field than to the Missionary School to while away the whole day looking at some strange figures in a paper without any work. They would say “My son, you would not eat Paper, you would eat Rice”, a Villager would say admonishing his son for going to the School.
Most said: “It is not necessary for the girls to go to the School, once they become marriageable age, they would marry away; they should rather learn at home how to winnow rice separate from the husk and how to cook food”.
The Mission sometimes provided free education, sometimes stipend to a few needy and there are instances of a villager in gratitude come to attend the Class in place of his Son or Daughter who was needed to some very urgent work of the family.
Christianity’s rapid expansion in the Naga is mainly due to the great freedom Naga Society has on Freedom of Choice; even young boys and girls are free to adopt any Religion they like.
The Parents want their children to follow the traditional Belief System but Villagers never forced their children’s decisions and this holds good in the field of Belief also. The majority of the children in the Mission School on their own volition adopted the ways of Christianity and the Villager Parents honoured the decision. Naga boy or girl has complete freedom to marry of follow any religion she/he choose, a freedom not available to their counterparts from the Hindu society.
It is because of this Freedom of Conscience in the savage Naga Society that the Naga could become Christian without any inhibition. The Mission Schools did not directly, not in a single instant, made the student Christian.
It is difficult for a boy or a girl from a Hindu Culture to adopt another religion without the knowledge and permission of the parents. No boy or girl in the School or even in the College would dare to change his religion for another without the permission of the Parents.
(This is a part of Chapter IV of a Book: “WHY DID THE NAGA BECOME CHRISTIAN?” this Writer is contemplating Publishing, hopefully relevant these Days when the RSS/BGP Policy on FREEDOM OF RELIGION in the country is very wearisome)