Photo Credits: Garima Mishra
Human beings are weird; we never appreciate things that are near us. Recently, to my visit to one of the north-eastern states of India, I realised how unique yet so similar the people are!
Sadly, a lot of us Indians don’t even know the states of the northeast, and yet we have very judgemental thoughts towards them. I was always fascinated by the beauty, food, and culture of these states, and it grew even more when as a kid, I first saw an advertisement on TV. I was really mesmerised by the colours, dance, nature, food, and overall beauty of it, and none the less to my expectations, I felt the calmness the moment I was here.
This was my first experience to the state ‘Nagaland- A land of naked people’; but not anymore. They were also known as ‘the headhunters.’ It’s a land where more than 80 % of the population is educated; they are deeply rooted in their culture and beliefs, yet very modern in their approach. It’s a tribal state that consists of 16 major tribes (popularly known) and they follow Christianity as their religion.
I chose the time of Christmas when the state is mostly relaxed; everybody is enjoying their holidays, going to their parents’ home, Children’s studying in various parts of the country come back home, kids are enjoying the company of their grandparents and family. It’s all merry and festive with a lot of gifts and food. After every few kilometres, you can see grand welcome gates to the various villages (not village-village, but areas that are divided and named as a village) decorated with lights, Christmas reed, Santa, and a big star in every home. All the churches are shining bright and preparing for the Christmas and New Years. You can see so many events & fares are organised and every age group is enjoying and actively being a part of it.
To all the people I came across were warm and welcoming, but a little surprised seeing a mainlander interested and participating in their gatherings. I guess that’s not very common for them!
A misconception that most of us have is that all the Naga’s eat insects, dogs, in short anything, and everything that moves and not too much of my surprise, after I came back one my relatives asked me- “I have heard they eat cockroaches and insects. Is it true?”
“No” – I said.
It was funny to hear, how easily we believe things that we hear rather than experiencing it on our own.
Well, I was in ‘Dimapur’ one of the most developed cities of the state as it’s the only plain area and has the airport. The capital of Nagaland is ‘Kohima’ which is covered with mountains, rain, and is mostly cold throughout the year. People here are proud of being ‘Naga’, and you can see that when you meet them. They will tell each and everything if you seem to have an interest in exploring it. Their tribe, their people, their food, their art, their lifestyle, their culture, they take pride in all of it.
Whichever house I entered I could see traditional tools and weapons (Daos & spears), bull’s head at the entrance. They love wearing their traditional attire, the headgear, Mekhla, earrings, etc. even the youngster embraces it proudly.
People from other parts of the country are generally called ‘mainlanders’, and that’s quite understandable why! We are living in the 21st century, people love exploring new things, but what we need to learn more is ‘how to be acceptable towards things that are not like us.’Our nation is so diverse and instead of finding flaws, we should learn to accept one another the way we are, we can learn a lot from one another if we stop resisting and judging. There is a lot of potential in the world and in people around us.
This article is a personal experience of the author’s visit to Dimapur, Nagaland during Christmas. Mishra is a working professional currently settled in New Delhi. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org