Respecting elders hallmark of Naga culture

Vishü Rita Krocha

Traditionally, Naga homes place great value in respecting elders. This is something that is ingrained in the Naga culture. It never had to be taught, but came almost naturally. “Respect” is shown to elders regardless of who or what they are, and this forms an important aspect of the culture that the Naga society so proudly claim to have inherited.

As a matter of fact, respecting elders has been an important tradition in different cultures across the world. It is a worldwide cultural norm and particularly found in societies with traditional values. In many societies and communities of the world, elders are treated with utmost respect.

In the Naga society, the very phrase “respect your elders” needs no elaboration. It has always been embedded in our roots and one cannot emphasize enough that showing respect to elders forms a very critical part of the Naga culture. Regardless of whether you are related or not, if you are younger than them, you are essentially expected to show respect to him/her.

Especially if you are visiting any village across the state, this is visible everywhere. You see young people cordially greeting elders on the way. It is considered “rude” not to talk to them if you encounter an elderly. While it may be a ‘moral obligation’, nobody ever seemed to mind.

It translates further to showing kindness. This is prominently seen in the rural villages where people even go out of their way just to show their respect for the elders. Whether it is talking to them kindly, or helping their carry their load. There are ample examples of how the Naga society has been practicing “respect for elders.” And it goes without saying that this is a very important culture that must be upheld.

And this, should never have been a subject of discussion if not for the recent case of assault on an elder by two youths on May 18 that eventually led to the tragic death of the elder. What is even more unfortunate is that the two youths represent the wrestling community— a sport that is well loved by the Nagas.

There is no other indigenous sport in Nagaland that has gained more popularity than wrestling has. The hurt, the pain and the shame that this particular incident has caused not only to the wrestling community but the whole Naga society is beyond words. Especially considering that our culture deeply values “respect for elders.”

One can only hope that no such incident would ever take place in our beloved land again. And maybe this calls for the need to revive a tradition that was once revered and considered an asset. Regardless of the changing times, it is important that young people today cultivate the culture of respecting elders no matter what.

Truly, as somebody said, “respecting our elders is not only a moral duty but a pathway to personal growth and enlightenment”, and that, “the strength of a community is built on the respect it shows to its elders.”

This is a guest editorial by Vishü Rita Krocha. She is the Publisher of PenThrill Publication and a senior journalist based in Kohima.