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Recovering playing ‘fields’

Witoubou Newmai

Sports used to hold a unique place in the Naga society. However, with the fast devastating process of ‘development’ or ‘advancement’ playfields have shrunk, and the people, too, have meagre ‘other time’ except to constantly race against the great pace of the time. When one talks of the shrinking playfields, it may not be necessarily literal, but also include sporty spirit, which too is fast dissipating.

To consider the notion of spending time in the playfields as the ‘other time’ would also simply mean that sports are not taken seriously anymore by the Naga society. This notion is also the glaring signpost of what the ‘modern time’ has done to the Naga society. Inversely speaking, the Naga society has done away the sporty spirit which was, once upon the time, a vital part of the Naga life.

It is quite disheartening to note that sporting activities have become very less in the Naga villages. Except occasional sporting events Naga villagers seem to find little taste of sports these days. It will be important to have a probing examination on the present trend in order to revert the traditional values of the Naga life. It will also be extremely important to deduce mechanisms to bring the sporting spirit back in the Naga life. Resources should not be an issue once the spirit comes back in the playfields.

Sports, as everyone knows, have been employed for ages as important tools to ‘exorcise’ bad blood between groups and peoples. They are also considered a panacea to lifestyle ailments. Above all, sports are entertaining lot.

Sports which are generally classified as ‘modern sports’ and traditional, it is beneficial to promote both the categories. Though the ‘modern sports’ have bigger professional scopes, it is equally important for the Naga society to engage in both the categories.

As parts of the campaign to revive the sporting spirit of the Naga life, seminars and talk programmes on the subject should be initiated, to begin with. Once the urge is kindled, things will become easier to be in course.
Research programmes at varied levels to rediscover traditional sports of the Nagas should also be part of the campaign.

Coming to this point of discussion, one is reminded of one Liangmai village which is trying very hard to revive the village traditional games.

Nchiang (Langmai) village is located near Tamei town in Tamenglong district. Recently, the villagers have started including ‘Madom Phenbo’ as one of the sports disciplines in their festivals.

‘Madom Phenbo’, literally means ‘throwing of balls made of green leaves. It is a forgotten traditional sport.

In this discipline, there are two competing parties comprising certain number of participants in each team. They use the ‘green balls’ to throw at the rival. Rules are a bit complicated, and explaining the details should not be the point here. The whole point is---the villagers are taking pains to popularise their long forgotten traditional game which is now gaining momentum.

What is more beautiful than making the traditional values relevant in ‘modern time’?