The Legends of the Nagas

 The Legends of the Nagas

The loud, thick and dull sounds appeared to permeate from the earth, made all things resonate, and it seemed like it was dispersing into one’s body, making one’s lifeblood thump heavily into a samba rhythm. It was truly sufficient to let the creative thoughts of the mind to be untamed, and send one into a dimension of unleashed fantasies, were the distant drums of the jungle can boast their presence. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the ‘The Phantom’, a character from the comic created by Lee Falk, walked in with the determination to start out on a whole new adventure filled with fascinating things and mysteries. The distant reverberations of those dull thumping noises stop after reaching a striking intensity, and then suddenly burst into childish laughter.
Following the afterward of that segment, it would be deserved retribution to notice the pygmies of Denkali to be preoccupied with their jungle communication methods. But alas, that was the end of that reverie, as one would probably come across little school children, taking a breather from their school duties, just to be banging relentlessly on an ancient log drum in their school grounds, which was quite common sight in the town of Mokokchung, Nagaland, located a few hours north of the capital city of Kohima. The Mokokchung district is the home to the Ao Naga tribe who practise the martial arts, and also to numerous little villages with names such as Chuchuyimlag and Mopungchuket, which, even though are quite difficult to pronounce, come with their own stories and legends. One of the important parts of the Naga heritage, was the log drum, which was an essential during their headhunting days. One or more of these drums were beaten loudly during different occasions, namely festivals and meeting reminders. They were also used for creating awareness amongst the people for incoming attacks and wars, rallying them to be ready for battle. But now, these drums are used only for ceremonies and special functions. Similarly, the
‘Morung’ is another distinctive attribute that holds immense value in the Naga tradition, which is basically an old tribal practise, which required to reside in large bamboo structures till they get married. A pledge would be taken by their families to the whole village, during their teenage years. They guarded and hunted together, and lived together. Although this tradition is now out of practise, the morung still exists to influence the village. The entrance of the morung is adorned with skulls and mithun horns, which gives it a shady and apprehensive feeling. It rests as a spooky and rather unsettling, because of its decade long vacancy. Near to the village’s entrance, is the sinister head-hanging tree, where the Nagas, for centuries, hunted down their enemies and butchered them in a gruesome manner, and hung their heads on the various branches of this tree as a reminder of their momentous victories?
In Mopungchuket, the roads are clean and waste baskets are arranged in a neat line, to receive the visitors. There is a map at the village entrance that shows the site of the log drums, which are so intricately carved, the location of the lake, museum and a few other beautiful and historical sights. A viewing tower was erected in the fond remembrance of Etiben and Jina, two ill-fated lovers, whose story is similar to that of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ where their love transcends social backgrounds. It is supposed that they died before the consummation of their marriage, but the story of their legendary romance races the young hearts of the Nagas. One can stumble across many such beautiful legends here.

Himanshu Yadav

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