Nagas, true nature enthusiasts, dwell atop vibrant green mountains that touch the clouds and the clear blue sky. The morning sun’s rays invigorate us, and the twilight paints the valleys, showcasing God’s faithfulness and incredible craftsmanship. Serene streams flow gently through these picturesque valleys. The people embody kindness, simplicity, and love, living in peaceful harmony. United, we have faced and stood against adversaries, always supporting one another.
Our grandparents embraced organic foods, drank pristine water from precious streams, and breathed in fresh, clean air. Despite the scarcity of modern medicines, they lived healthier, longer lives, finding joy without today’s facilities. Life’s serenity was immeasurable. While reading and writing might not have been their priority, living a good life was. They thrived in a pure environment, untouched by pollution, unfamiliar with plastic bags, bottles, and firecrackers.
Nagas, originating from diverse tribes, regions, and villages, possess rich cultures and traditions, upbringing marked by specific family etiquettes and societal norms. Decision-making often reflects the influence of culture, religion, and educational background. The advent of globalization and modernization has connected Nagas to the broader world, urging a conscious and subconscious accommodation of other cultures. Consequently, there is a passive dilution of our roots and originality. The misinterpretation of liberalism and secularism is gradually leading Nagas towards compromising their faith and cultures.
In the past, Nagas were resolute and unwavering in their decision-making. Foreign forces found it challenging to sway or settle us easily. However, the present generation is perceived as feeble, brittle, and gullible. Taking things for granted the strength of community feelings and social responsibility is dwindling. There’s a noticeable tendency to compromise and prioritize personal gains and benefits. Individualism has taken root in the Naga community.
Concern for neighbors’ troubles has diminished, replaced by a pursuit of wealth through exploiting the innocent and weak in society. Greed, ignorance, selfishness, and egotism have overshadowed the principles of Christianity. The light of Christianity is fading as darkness prevails. Honesty has vanished, as people fear speaking the truth. The purest form of love is dissipating, giving way to a self-centered focus.
Schools, colleges, and student numbers are on the rise, with thousands graduating each year. However, this surge in education contrasts sharply with escalating issues such as unemployment, addictions, and antisocial activities. The evident truth prompts sensible individuals to question the quality of education provided. Corruption, inequalities, bribes, and injustices have permeated society. Breaking free from this cycle requires cultivating a sense of responsibility and life purpose. This transformation can be achieved by imparting the right knowledge and information, starting from parents and teachers. Inculcating cultural and traditional education on family and societal ethics is vital. A holistic upbringing of children holds the potential to create a positive impact on families, societies, and nations.
As the New Year approaches, individuals eagerly prepare for celebrations filled with joy and excitement. Many start accumulating goods for a grand celebration, and the tradition of bursting firecrackers is widespread in Nagaland and throughout India. Despite widespread awareness of its consequences, people remain adamant, prioritizing momentary pleasure over considering the adverse impacts on human health, animals, and the environment. Firecrackers release toxic gases, including Nitrous Oxide, which linger in the air for extended periods, requiring heavy rain or storms to settle. Inhaling these fumes can trigger asthma attacks and, in severe cases, even heart attacks for bronchitis patients. The chemicals present in firecrackers can lead to respiratory attacks, causing infectious diseases and inflammation. Additionally, air and noise pollution adversely affect patients with heart, respiratory, and nervous system conditions. The presence of radioactive and poisonous elements poses a heightened risk of cancer. Consider the plight of a patient enduring pain throughout the day; enduring such boisterous disturbances throughout the night becomes an added burden.
Considering the aforementioned concerns, as educated and responsible individuals, celebrating the upcoming New Year requires conscientious choices. Excuses like “it’s just a night” or “just a few crackers” might be tempting, but it raises important questions. Are we willing to compromise our educational values and ethics? Will we remain irresolute and indifferent to life-threatening issues? Taking the initiative becomes crucial if everyone avoids change. Education should extend beyond acquiring degrees and settling into a job; it should empower us to address social evils and injustices. Real education involves standing up for truth, speaking out, and making sacrifices for what is right.
The invaluable legacy left by our honest and truthful grandparents serves as a guiding beacon for the Nagas. Their unwavering commitment to truth and freedom, along with their vigilant protection of our land, forms the bedrock of our cultural identity. As inheritors of this legacy, the mantle of responsibility now falls upon us to safeguard and preserve our rich heritage for future generations.
In our efforts to honor this responsibility, fostering a clean environment becomes paramount. By refraining from the use of firecrackers and avoiding indulgence in intoxicants, we contribute not only to the physical health of our community but also to the longevity of our cultural vitality. The harmful effects of firecrackers on both the environment and human well-being make this shift towards a cleaner celebration essential.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the practice of bursting firecrackers is an alien culture with no meaningful connection to our history. Instead of adopting external customs, we can celebrate authentically by embracing our own cultural expressions. Singing folk songs, engaging in traditional dances, sharing stories that have been passed down through generations, and preparing and enjoying delicious local foods can be integral to our celebrations. These activities not only strengthen our cultural bonds but also contribute to a more meaningful and fulfilling festive experience.
Moreover, as Christians, there is a unique opportunity to come together in gratitude. Through communal expressions of thanks and seeking blessings for the journey ahead, we reinforce the spiritual aspect of our identity. This unity in prayer and thanksgiving adds a profound dimension to our celebrations, emphasizing the values that underpin our community and fortifying our collective resolve to navigate the future with faith and resilience.
Paul N Rengma,