Story of a rich culture & history

Lemti Alinger

The Centenary celebrations of the Baptist Arogotsür, Changki was held from 7-8th September 2005. On the afternoon of the final day, the ‘Orija Salang’ became a hub of activity, showcasing culture and talent from all over the State. The ambiance of the cultural hall was beautifully created to evoke the rich culture, history and character of the Changki woman.

Traditional artifacts and forest flowers lined the walls. Big pots in the front of the stage, some dating back to more than 100 years, told the story of a rich legacy of the industrious and ingenious Changki woman.

The programme began with a prayer by Mrs Chanmayo J. Aier. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Mrs. Metongla Aier, the first Ao woman evangelist and recipient of “zep zep” award, an excellence award among Aos. 

A video presentation highlighting the village’s unique tradition of pottery and other cultural information set the tone for the afternoon. For many it was an enlightening and grateful experience to be imparted in one sitting a whole range of practical traditional knowledge. 

What is celebration without songs?  Several women groups from Mokokchung, Nokon, Dimapur, and Mangkolemba presented songs in traditional tune specially composed for the occasion. They echoed similar sentiments of gratitude to God for these hundred years. The songs paid tribute to the land and its people and urged Changki chari to rouse themselves and emulate the good examples before them. Some other songs reflected the farmer’s life.

An excellent skit in five scenes was presented by the group from Dimapur.  In an alternation of typical humour and poignant truth telling, the skit enacted scenes from the history of trade and commerce of Changki women, the initial struggles of the early
Christian women, the dark period of division in the village, and finally the contemporary practice of casual consideration of culture and society by the transitional generation. 

Other items from the youth of Mokokchung and Changki were presented with much energy. Trendsetting choreography was presented by young people dressed in traditional costumes stepping nimbly to modern (fusion) Ao numbers.  It also marked a new approach of repackaging culture for the changing times.

However, the purist was not going to be disappointed, hardy men from Kohima did the honours of closing the celebration with a stately warrior dance.

Besides the total impact of the programme what impressed the onlooker much was the earnest enthusiasm and initiative of the ordinary woman, the busy housewife, mother and grandmother, all of whom invested so much to evoke the essence of the celebrations.