My youth engrossed me in ceremonial duties
Feeding village folk with fresh Gahori and Mithun
When oak barrels brimmed over with foaming Zutho
the Sunkong rang out to bring throngs together
And the hillsides echoed to festive music
Hundreds of tattoos have I carved with lemon thorns
On faces and chests of warrior men
With a mix of burnt resin and the zesty Zutho
Who brought home jubilantly an enemy head
Upholding the pride of the Konyak Naga
My nimble fingers weave and embroider
Countless Nye-mons and festive cloths
With pride the men wear in festive gaiety
As have generations danced in joyful fervour…
by Sudha Madhavan
What inspired me
We reach the village of Mon, in the Mon district of Nagaland post afternoon, slightly tired from our rewarding morning rounds of the villages of Hongphoi, Chi etc.
The homestead we are led to by our guide Litwang is a little put away, upon a small hillock. And there seated, intent on her needlework, stitching large metallic sequins onto a blue ceremonial loincloth, we find an aged, withered lady, probably in her mid eighties.
She seems shy and demure and avoids meeting our eye. Understandably so. It is extremely unlikely that she would have met anyone other than her own village folk. But we’ve gone prepared to break the ice...with gifts. And she finally looks up at us with a slowly emerging smile.
And we spend some time in amicable silence seated next to her watching her at her work. Valuable time spent and one that we shall always remember.