Monday, November 28, 2022

Westernization a threat to Naga marriage system

Nowadays, Naga society is deeply ingrained in westernization. The idea of westernization was conceptualized with the emergence of the British who intruded into the Naga’s homeland in 1832. It was during the British colonial administration, the American Baptist missionaries proselyte the Nagas and other native inhabitants in Northeast India. Thus, the first American missionary E.W. Clark scaled the Naga Hills at Deka Haimong (Molungkimong) in December 1872. In the process of evangelization, many good cultures were disregarded as evil. Western cultures were enforced and imbibed through education and Christianization. Thus, the spread of the dominant Western culture has caused a gradual demise of the Naga cultures.
Christianity has brought drastic transformation in Naga society. Modern education was introduced thereby improving health, medicine, science and technology, transportation, communication, etc. It has made life easier and more comfortable. However, the Nagas not only adopted Christianity but the Western cultures which are new and menacing. They include such as food habits, dresses, houses, cars, dating, marriages, and even worship systems in the Church. Huge Church buildings keep emerging in towns and cities. But, doubtfully, those magnificent and huge buildings are made of corrupted money. Nagas have become materialistic, greedy, and individualist. The good ethics and morals of the old days are deserted and forgotten. Respect for the elders, old people, and the code of conduct in society is degrading. Naga society and the Church are broken and divided. Despite the high percentage of Christianity, corruption is very prevalent in the state.
Wedding season has dawned and one could witness taking place in every nook and corner. Churches are hectic in conducting marriages. Some Churches even organize mass marriages where two to three people are wedded simultaneously. The bride dresses in a white Western wedding gown and appears like an angel. She marches on the pricy aisle like a princess marching towards the bridegroom. Thus, the bridegroom suited and booted standing high on the well-decorated and elevated stage waiting to hold her hands.
Then, the minister pronounces them as husband and wife through prayer and vows. The public congratulates them by shaking their hands. People are elated and delighted to enjoy luscious dishes, drinks and meals. They are suited and booted extravagantly. Thus, everyone looks expensive and gorgeous.
Therefore, a wedding has become expensive and quite demanding for the poor and middle class. The blend of both the Western and traditional marriage systems has become way more expensive. On the wedding day, the bride and groom’s family are compelled to feed the entire congregation of the Church, relatives and villagers. They spend a lot on hiring the best tents and trends for decoration. It has become moreover a kind of advertisement and competition. Thus, it is challenging and sad news for the poor and the innocent.
It is everyone’s dream and desire to get a proper wedding in the Church. No one would crave to get expelled from the Church and bring a bad reputation to the family. But, due to the compelling reason and the inability to afford the white wedding, thousands have eloped and wandered away from the Church and society. It may cost nothing for the rich, but for the poor, it is a big burden. I have witnessed that many people were compelled to borrow money for their wedding expenses. Therefore, the new couples were forced to start their journey by paying debts which is not a good sign. It is also common to see people getting a divorce after their wedding. Some would even dare to divorce the night after the marriage and some after a few months or years.
Divorce and weddings have become the two sides of a coin. There is no sanctity and respect. Solemnization has become problemnization. Spending lakhs and crores of money, conducting marriages in the Church in a Western and grand manner are all meaningless when one is unable to maintain its sanctitude.
It is nastiest than the poor and innocent who elope happily due to financial constraints. Bible did not fix any amount for a wedding. Jesus did not command us to wear white gowns, coats and suits on a wedding day. He did not tell us to kill pigs, buffaloes and so on for feasting.
Therefore, the Church must rise above the Western and pagan traditions and see things from a brighter perspective. The Church must stand to deliver truth and justice to everyone. Marriage in the Church should not be reserved only for the rich and the elites. Irrespective of any economic and social status, proper prayer and solemnization ought to be given. Marriage certificates need to be issued. It should not be based on how much one spends on feasting and decorations but answer the genuine needs of people. A Church should not always expect a big feast on every wedding. Instead, they should be ever ready and welcoming to solemnize every genuine believer whether in two or three members. It is not necessary to wear a white gown, exchange a ring and feed the entire congregation to marry in the Church. Mark 7:13 says, “Thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Thus, westernization and traditions should not hinder one to get proper marriage. Else, Church should be held responsible for all the losses.
Paul N Rengma
Dimapur

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