“…when women without fur coats grow kind to their husbands…you know for sure that winter is near at hand”. This is a line from O Henry’s short story, ‘The Cop and the Anthem,’ which tells the story of a homeless man called Soapy who struggles to escape the severity of the New York winter. The story tells us about how torturing a winter can be for the have-nots.
Cut to the present trend here in our Naga society, the torturing part for the people without the ‘fur coats’ during the winter, known as the festive season in our context, may not be necessarily about the physical aspect.
Of late, it is noticed that the ‘have-nots’ suffer the feeling of alienation when people with status and the ‘powers-that-be’ become virtual owners of all the events in this Naga festive season. We need to check whether the ‘Naga-ness’ has been substantially displaced by the ‘world’s way’.
There is no denying that the world will always belong to the ‘haves’ and the ‘much-haves’. However, given the cultural aspect and egalitarian belief of the Naga society, we need to do heavy introspections/retrospections on the going of the trend.
Today’s festivals and any other celebration, right from the village level to the Government level, have become a link between the gaping hole of tradition and modernity. But, people working to preserve and defend the ‘Naga-ness’ may take special pleasure in finding out whether these modern festivities/events are also creating a gaping hole between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in Naga society.
It is time to rethink on how events are organized in overt hostility to the needs of the ‘have-nots’.
The crowded ‘powers-that-be’ in organizational structure of events needs to be reconfigured based on egalitarian belief. Barriers which dispel the feeling of allegiance of the ‘have-nots’ to public events need to be identified and make necessary redressing. In other words, efforts are to be invested to enable us to identify circumstances in which feeling of allegiance of the ‘have-nots’ is inimical to the public events. The best of these endeavours can deepen the understandings of the egalitarian belief of the Naga society. Such endeavours can also bring us good lessons about humility, one important motif of the Naga-ness.
In short, to soothe the ‘winter alienation’ of the ‘have-nots’ in this point of the era when the growth of inequality in our Naga society is startling, it is important for the glaring display of the Naga-ness, at least when it comes to upholding the spirit of the festive season. This approach does not mean to undermine the argument about practical amenities.
Or, when the needs of the ‘have-nots’ in the Naga society are met, so are the needs of the entire Naga society (reflection of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill).