Kohima, 10 November (MTNews): The Capital College of Higher Education observed Cultural Day cum Narrative Competition at Sahitya Sabha Hall, PR Hill, Kohima on Friday. According to the press release issued by the Media Cell of the College, Niekhoto Curhah, Assistant Professor in the Department of History, was the keynote speaker for the program.
Curhah emphasized that Naga culture extends beyond traditional attire to encompass social behavior, institutions, norms, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits. Drawing on historical perspectives, he noted that the Nagas, even during their pre-Christian era, were recognized for qualities such as honesty, hard work, love, kindness, generosity, and hospitality.
Referring to Verrier Elwin, author of “The Nagas in the Nineteenth Century,” Curhah highlighted that despite a seemingly backward rural life, the Nagas exhibited inherent qualities that included honesty and a commitment to providing protection and comfort to travelers. Elwin emphasized that these traits were considered religious duties.
“The Nagas are very honest and truthful people. That is why Verrier Elwin said the Nagas do not use locks,” stated Curhah. However, he observed that there is a decline of certain cultural values. “In today’s Naga society, I don’t know whether we can be called as honest and truthful people anymore,” he added. However, he commended the enduring qualities of generosity and hospitality still visible in Naga society.
He also refuted the stereotype of Nagas as wild, savage headhunters, citing historical evidence that emphasizes the Naga warriors’ respect for merit over mere headhunting.
“The Nagas are brave warriors. When the situation demands, we declare war on the legal right to fight out justice and conclude with peace.We don’t go to war just to hunt the head. So it’s not right to call the Nagas head-hunters,” Curhah said.
Quoting JH Hutton, Curhah highlighted that head-taking is a global feature, and Nagas cannot be singled out as headhunters.
Despite such positive aspects, Curhah acknowledged a decline in certain cultural values, cautioning against adopting pleasure-centric behaviors influenced by Western culture.
Transitioning to the significance of oral history, Curhah emphasized its crucial role in reconstructing ancient history. Narrating a poignant story about the founding of Phusachodu village, he illustrated the importance of oral traditions in preserving and passing down Naga history through generations.
The event also featured a narrative competition, with a notable increase in participation from the previous year. Students shared stories, providing a glimpse into Naga history and folklore, aligning with the importance of oral history in preserving the Naga heritage.
The program, chaired by Leang of the 5th semester, included a folk dance performance by 5th-semester students. The narrative competition winner, Bendangtoshi, was awarded during the event. Dr Zokho Venue, Principal of CCHE, delivered the introductory note, and the program concluded with a word of prayer from Asholu, EU secretary.
All participant stories will be published by the Research Cell, emphasizing the significance of preserving and sharing Naga narratives for future generations.