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Valuing Naga Cultural Identity

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 06, 2019 1:06 am

Nagaland, the ‘Land of Festivals,’ is currently celebrating the 20th Hornbill Festival, a platform that displays the traditions and culture unique to the Naga people and its many tribes. It showcases the dynamism of Nagaland, from its ancestral languages, intricate cultural outfits to wild delicacies, and from its blooming flora and fauna to an array of folk music, dances and various other native practices. On the fourth day of the Hornbill Festival at Kisama village, the Union minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel highlighted the notion of “cultural identity” and implored the young citizens of Nagaland to understand its importance.

Cultural Identity is an important contributor to the wellbeing of any society. It helps individuals identify with a particular culture and gives them a sense of belonging and security. It allows people access to social networks that provide support, shared values, and aspirations. It is part of a historical reservoir of knowledge besides providing a link to the past. Yet, we Nagas only tend to focus on the distinctive features of each tribe rather than the threads that link us all. The Hornbill feather is one such thread that runs through all the Naga tribes, be it in traditional wear or decorative ornaments. And thus the “Hornbill Festival” was born to bring all Naga tribes under one roof and to celebrate not just individual culture but the collective culture of Nagaland.

The complexities of Naga identity are exemplified in the constitution of the three-member Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) that has been formed to study, examine and recommend issues pertaining to Naga identity. Its main aim is the prevention of fake indigenous inhabitants’ certificates by creating a master list of all inhabitants of the state through an extensive survey. Fresh indigenous inhabitants’ certificates will not be issued except to newborn babies to the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland. This practice highlights the uniqueness of Naga identity and the importance of preserving cultural heritage and traditions. Culture is not a stagnant thing. It evolves as society evolves and progresses and no one should force anyone else to remain in a place and time long gone. However, preservation through means such as festivals and documentations are crucial in keeping cultural identity alive. The value of Naga cultural identity is immeasurable. It is the very essence of being a Naga.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 06, 2019 1:06:44 am