Preserving Tradition With Mithun Rearing In Seyochung Village - Eastern Mirror
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Preserving tradition with mithun rearing in Seyochung village

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By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 10, 2024 12:02 am
Seyochung village
A herd of mithuns at Seyochung village.

SEYOCHUNG — Mithun rearing at Seyochung village of Kiphire district in Nagaland is more than just livestock management. It is a deeply ingrained tradition that reflects the community’s values of wealth, cooperation, and environmental stewardship.

As the state animal of Nagaland, mithun (Bos frontalis), also known as gayal, holds significant cultural, economic, and social importance. The animals are considered valuable assets and revered as symbols of wealth, reflecting the economic status and social standing of individuals within the community. Historically, mithun ownership signified affluence in the traditional Naga society.

A community effort

At Seyochung village, mithun rearing is a community effort, with each mithun owner contributing an annual membership or registration fee of INR 900 to the Mithun Committee. For those who co-own mithuns, a reduced fee of INR 800 each is collected annually.

The Mithun Committee, comprising a chairman and secretary, plays a pivotal role in overseeing mithun rearing activities and serves as a platform for decision-making, resource allocation, and the implementation of communal practices related to mithun rearing.

Chairman of the committee, Khalimong told this newspaper that the committee operates without any government or external aid. The funding for their activities is entirely self-generated through contributions from the members.

One of the distinctive customs observed at Seyochung village is the annual construction of fences for mithun enclosures.

For the annual fence-making event, Khalimong said that the committee appeals to the village council to decide a suitable day for the activity. Once the day is determined, each household contributes one day of labour per year, while the committee ensures that logistical arrangements, such as providing meals, are made to facilitate the smooth execution of this task.

Besides the fencing, the committee is also responsible for managing all necessary arrangements for the governance of the village’s mithun population. Currently, Seyochung village has a total of 74 mithuns.

Secretary Choli informed that the committee is composed of six members, including the chairman, the secretary, and four other members.

If damage is caused by natural calamities or the mithuns themselves, the committee promptly arranges for repairs, mobilising members as needed, he said.

Environmental considerations

An interesting aspect of mithun rearing at Seyochung village is the utilisation of resources from individual fields and reserved forests for fence construction, selectively harvesting trees for materials.

They also allow unrestricted movement of mithuns within the community lands and reserved forests, upholding the traditional ethos of communal land use and shared resources, with mithuns playing a central role in the community’s socio-ecological dynamics.

It may be recalled that on September 1, 2023, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officially recognised mithun as a ‘food animal’, paving the way for the promotion of its consumption and commercial rearing.

Subsequently, the National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM), an agency under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, proposed to celebrate ‘Mithun Day’ on September 1 every year.

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By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 10, 2024 12:02:04 am
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