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Retracing roots for the future
(Courtesy: MA English 2nd Semester, Department of English, ICFAI University, Nagaland)  :  Apr/02/2017 12:49:AM
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The students of ICFAI University, Nagaland, M.A English 2nd semester undertook a two-day study tour to the state capital Kohima and Khonoma village from March 18 to 19, 2017. Initiated by the Department of English, the tour was organised mainly to impart greater knowledge to the students apart from the knowledge that books and classroom provide. Forty two enthusiastic students turned up for the trip accompanied by four teaching faculty.
KOHIMA:
State Museum:
The first place that we visited was the State Museum which is located at Bayavu Hill at Kohima. The tour inside the museum was fascinating and educative. There were ancestral weapons, carved gatepost, statues, pillars that records Feast of Merit and also traditional Naga costumes and jewellery. The traditional lifestyles of Nagas, documented pictures of the Battle of Kohima are displayed in the museum. 
Another eye catching section at the museum were artefacts displayed from various excavations such as the Chungliyimti Excavations-2007/08, Luradvu Excavation-2009, Hutsu Excavations-2004 and such other excavations. In the art gallery, we came across a portrait of Mr. Pawsey, the then Deputy Commissioner of Kohima during the Battle of Kohima. He looked like a stern and strict man as mentioned in Easterine Kire’s novel “Mari”. 
War Cemetery:
 We proceeded to the Kohima War Cemetery located at the centre of the town. The main purpose of our visit was to see the epitaph of Sergeant Victor, the first love of Mari in Easterine Kire’s inscripted with the words “To the world he was just a part, to me he was the all world”. The visit to the cemetery was personally the best part of the whole trip. 
As we looked for C.V. Hewett’s (Mari’s Victor) and the Naga sepoy Saliezu Angami’s epitaphs, we had to go looking at all the epitaphs one by one. 
Another interesting fact we found in the war Cemetery was the flowering Cherry Tree which has a great historical story to tell which was narrated to us by the Sylvester Marak, the head gardener of the Cemetery that this very tree was used by Japanese as a sniper’s post and the inscription on the tree stated that the original tree was destroyed in the fighting which raged round the tennis court and marked the limit of the Japanese advancement into India. The present tree is a shoot from the old stump. The head gardener also told that the Japanese Sniper in the Cherry Tree was shot dead by the Naga boy Saliezu Angami who was also shot down by the same Japanese Sniper whom he had shot. This Naga boy belonged to the Assam Regiment and he is the only Naga man to be buried in the War Cemetery. 
KHONOMA:
By the time we reached Khonoma at around 5:00 P.M., it was already getting dark. The Alder Tours and Travels proprietor, Kevichulie Meyase along with the tour guide, Kevikesu Savino invited the group to the famous ‘Tehruotsiese’ meaning ‘stone erected by spirits’ located along the Mehrümie Khel. Legends hold that the people of Khonoma village heard thunderous shouts of rallying ‘oho,oho’ cry dotted with victory yell ‘alulu’ as if a big ceremony was going in the deep forest. Early in the morning, when the people of Khonoma village came out to see, they found a strange looking stone planted here by the spirits. Traces indicated that the stone was tied by a long string and dragged down to this place from the forest above.
We began our tour by first visiting a place which had large stone monuments signifying the “Feast of Merit” consisting of seven stages and is called “Kesia Mero” in Tenyidie. The stones are erected in memory of their parents. The large and small pillars signify the age of the members of the family. Number of stones indicates the number of family members, the family members chooses the stones and the community as a whole pulls the stone depending on the status of the family.
Another interesting fact about Khonoma is that it has seven similar village gate and they believe that Khonoma was a fort in itself. As one steps further into the village, the ceremonial gates stands, one that dates back to 1870 crafted with the image of the sun, moon, the horns of the mithun and headgear etc, each depicting its own significance carved on the stone. The gates the village is said to be the only gateway through which the people of the village walked in and out of the village. The original wooden gates are taken care of by the youths of the village who volunteers to stand guard. Because of the remarkable sense of responsibility and importance given to the selection of the tree for making of the gates, the practices of performing rituals and performing of possession of the selected tree by a respected member of the village to the first cutting of the tree by a couple of boys who has not attained the age of puberty to maintain the purity of the tree is significant. The faith and inter-dependence of the village people with nature is evident till today as great emphasis is put forth to preserve Nature. This earned the village the title of ‘the First Green Village’ in India in 2004 by the Government of India. Recognised for its initiative in preserving the wildlife and outstanding preservation of flora and fauna, the village is surrounded with rich resources and clean environment maintenance. 
We visited the Morungs, which have been a centre where discussions of importance concerning festivals, mutual relationships with other tribes and tactics of war were taught here. Believed to be a place where oral tradition and imparting of history were taught, the Morungs also served as a house where the people would first call for rescue in times of approaching danger. Standing till date as a court for settling cases, it is notable that no judicial court exists in the village with the customary law still in practice. 
Semoma Fort was our next destination where the fort is described as the strongest in the North-East by Maj. John Butler of the British Army. The fort where the last battle was fought between the British and the people of Khonoma village stands resistant and is protected by the people of Khonoma and the Archaeological Survey of India. In one of the peak also has the memorial tomb of G.H. Damant a British political officer who was killed in Khonoma in 1879. The main intention of Damant’s visit to the village was to make friendly alliance with the village but the villagers mistook him as an enemy and shot him dead. 
Conclusion
The outcome of the trip was more than expected. Many of us are aware of other states and countries more than our own. Our culture, our heritage is seen as an unimportant part of our lives as we consume our time with so many activities. This trip was an eye-opener and truly educational. What started out as a boring field trip with the only thing to look forward were your friends and selfies, turned out into something else. 




 
 
 
 
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