The Ao Senso Telongjem Shillong (ASTS) celebrated its 25th Year Anniversary on the 4 and 5 August 2023 at Naga Community Hall, Nagaland House, Shillong. Celebrating the event on the theme, “Progress and Unity,” the two-day program was graced by Padmashree awardee, T Senka Ao, the former editor of Ao Milen, the first Ao vernacular newspaper, and K Temjen Jamir, the editor of the first daily newspaper in Ao vernacular, Tir Yimyim, as the guest speakers.
Addressing the gathering on the topic, ‘Aor Putiren,’ in the first session, T Senka Ao stressed on the basic foundations of Ao Putiren as “democratic society, classless society, patriarchal society, monogamy, oral literature, and the belief in the existence of one God.” He stressed that Aos were a people “who sang through words and who spoke through songs,” a language so rich that it should be embraced and encouraged.
He lamented on the fading dangers of the Ao language and attributed its causes to the Church and the homes for ignoring the prominence of the language. He was also cautious on Ao women using the titles or names of their spouses, and warned of dangers against vending off one’s culture and identity.
T Senka Ao encouraged the Aos in Shillong to embrace their mother language, respect and strengthen the culture and identity of women in his speech.
The second session witnessed the spirited speech from K Temjen Jamir, the Editor of Ao Vernacular, Tir Yimyim, on the topic ‘Progress and Unity.’ Convinced that the Aos are far from progressing in so many areas, K Temjen identified six areas where the Aos of Nagaland, and particularly Shillong, need to progress.
The six key areas of attention included reviving the tag of integrity for Aos by asking themselves whether they are men and women of integrity, instead of pointing their finger at politicians; replacing daily conversations on politics and electoral politics with talks of development and employment; envisioning economic surfeit by changing their mindsets from asking politicians and bureaucrats for money to providing them with blueprints of how to improve the economy; promoting others towards economic development which in turn will benefit their economic turnout; embracing and promoting the rich traditions and culture in all institutions, including the church; and seeking suitable recognition and collaboration of Aos residing outside of Nagaland with the parent body Ao Senden.
The third session, the Cultural Fete, was graced by the presence and performance of Tiameren Aier, a notable and celebrated contemporary singer among the Aos. The Cultural session also included presentations from other communities, such as the Khasi Community, Lotha students, Chakhesang students, and the Eastern Naga Students.
The presence and participation of pioneers of the ASTS like Aren Imsong, Imkongsashi Pongen, C Apok Jamir, and Yanger Pongen added more grandeur to the Jubilee celebrations. The President of the ASTS, Dr Temsunungsang extended his welcome to all the invitees and friends of the Ao Community in Shillong.
Meanwhile, Butesen Ozukum, the Convener of the Planning Committee expressed his gratitude to all participants and well-wishers for their support towards the grand success of the Jubilee Celebration.