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Editorial

Blessings of agriculture

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By EMN Updated: Nov 05, 2013 10:25 pm
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n our beloved land, the season for festivals is gaining wider prominence especially at this time of the year. It is not that most tribes have their festivals at this time but that what with the oncoming of the Hornbill Festival followed by numerous marriages and then Christmas and the New Year, this time takes more prominence.
Festival is a time of celebration highlighted by a series of concerts, films, cultural shows and the like. The word derives from the Latin festa meaning ‘Feast’. To be festive relates to or suitable for a festival or the festive season. From this the word festivities follows meaning activities or events celebrating a special occasion.“Where our land is concerned, in spite of being a majority Christian State, all said and done the basics come down to our agricultural heritage, This is because all the festivals in Nagaland are based on the cycle of the agricultural provisions which in turn provide not only sustenance for the people but also gives way to economy by virtue of selling and buying factor. From this, agro-economy follows.
Agro-economy refers to that part it plays in the economy of all countries’ overall economy. This is in terms of the economic contribution that agriculture makes. The effect that it has on the economy is huge. Agriculture is one of a key group of economic contributors which would cause economic collapse if it failed.
Effects of mismanagement of the Agro-economy are quite evident with the food riots that are being experienced in some countries of Africa because people basically cannot afford to buy food or are experiencing significant food shortages.
Agro-economy is the economy surrounding agriculture. This involves the price of seeds, and fruits and vegetables, as well as the companies who buy and sell these foods, the farmers, and we average Joe consumers. A bad agro-economy can lead to food inflation. This inflation will be detrimental, and even deadly to both our nationwide economy and people.
What Nagas need to remind themselves (the privileges of advanced technology notwithstanding) is that whatever we are has its roots on the land that our ancestors had inhabited, food provided by the land and, by extension we do so today.
Whenever you travel, take a look at our countryside. Between every 15 kms to 20 kms you will surely pass through a hamlet, village or town. If you go to Kohima from Dimapur which most us have, take a time to ponder it. That by itself is not the overriding factor.
What should be noticed is that in such span of mere kilometers, the land takes on various shapes by providing various vegetables peculiar to its very own location. From Kohima, if you head north you will be eventually land up in Wokha district the bamboo shoot (bas tenga) country. All Nagas partake of this delicacy which incidentally has no food value but for the taste. Mix it with river fish and you have the Lotha bamboo shoot dish.
Likewise, go on and you will reach Mokokchung or anishi country. And so on to Mon or to Longleng or Tuensang. From Chakhabama, you can go eastwards to Pfutsero—the land of aloo, gobi—and then the pine country beyond.
Or, between Wokha and Phek districts if you can pass through Zunheboto via Chozuba then you are in the land of what they call akhuni country. However, this is a misnomer because almost all Nagas partake of it, albeit in their own styles.
Because of what the land feeds us we have to revere it since it ensures our sustenance. And to celebrate our blessings we conduct festivals giving homage to the powers that be beyond our earth but who still care for us simple folks.
All said and done, however, the victuals that the land provides according to its own cycle of climates, had a bearing on the people who inhabit the land. Primitive people revered a deity who bothered to take care of them. This was manifest in their interpretation of what a supreme being would be like. From this certain norms and rituals followed. And that became their religion.
However, it must always be borne in mind that all these religious manifestations sprang from what the land provided—in other words the agriculture that made it possible. To share and enjoy the blessings of bountiful harvests manifested in celebrations which became festivals. And that is one prime aspect of culture.
That is why Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio rightly said that Nagaland is “Land of Festivals”. However, his quote was not merely rhetoric for political expediency. It was based on understanding of the norms of cultural traits that have to be honoured.
Today, almost all Nagas are professed Christians of whatever denominations and sometimes we tend to shy away from our cultural legacy. The fact is, we are grateful to the British for bringing to us their system of administration and education. It were the American missionaries who brought us the message of the Gospels. The only shortcoming of the missionaries was that they perhaps had not fully understood the customs and traditions by which the various Naga tribes lived by according to the blessings of their land.
So they termed it all as “Pagan” and advocated that these animist practices be stopped forthwith. Herein developed the contradiction of what the Church advocates and what the people in general cannot forego their ancestral heritage. The contradiction continues and will do so until and unless both the Church and the people in general learn to give and take.
Whatever be the case, Christian or pagan or Christian with pagan leanings or pagan with Christian leanings, it is high time for the Church to truly introspect with regard to its role as of the present times. The Church is a powerful and very influential institution and it can still instill the virtues of what Christianity stands for.
Nevertheless, the land factor must always be in the background. That is, in our terms. However, when the Israelites were in their exodus, God supplied the manna every morning and evening, and the people had to eat it the same day. The only exception was the Sabbath rest day. There was no manna on Saturday mornings, but God gave two days’ supply each Friday, half of which the people kept for use on Saturday.
Because the manna spoiled quickly, the people preserved the supply for Saturday by baking or boiling it beforehand. Moses controlled the collection and distribution of the manna so that no one had too much or too little (Exod 16;4-5, 15-18, 23).
God also used the manna to teach the Israelites that their lives depended not merely on the food they ate, but on their spiritual relationship with God (Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4).
Jesus compared the gift of manna to satisfy man’s spiritual hunger. He did not need to make food fall from heaven, for he himself was the true bread from heaven (John 6:31-35).
He gave himself as a sacrifice for sin, so that those who trust in him may have eternal life.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 05, 2013 10:25:12 pm