Naga New Year Festival
Sammatha Cheng
February , 2017

Myanmar is a country with a deep and fascinating culture. It is also a land of festivals: a festival for every month of the year. Most festivals are cultural and religious. Majority festivals are nation-wide celebrated while a few are distinctly regional. Since 1993, the Naga Traditional New Year festival has been held with the assistance of the government. The festival has become a state-level festival since 2001. Naga New year Festival is held annually for 4 days starting from January 15 after their harvest. It revenue is alternating among three Naga towns of Leshi, Lahe and Namyun in Naga Self-Administered zone. Naga Self-Administered zone consists three townships of Sagain Division. For past seven years, festivals were held only in Leshi and Lahe as accessibility is difficult for Namyun. For this year, festival was held in Lahe, capital town or administrative town of Naga Self-Administered zone.

The Naga New Year festival is social, but it is also to exchange previous year experiences; to make plans for the coming year and to discuss how to overcome difficulties. They pray for abundant crops and domestic animals and to have good weather. They worship to their deities by scarifying the animals. Varieties of Naga clans participate in this New Year festival wherever it is celebrated.

Numerous Naga tribes spread throughout the Northwestern hills of Myanmar. Most of the Naga are from the Chin State.

Visitors can take a glimpse of traditional attire of Naga tribes at the festival. Clothing of Naga comprises a wide variety of shawls. Nagaland is popular for its unique shawls.

Naga man Attire

Apart from the shawl, the normal working dress is a kilt which is generally of black colour. It may be embroidered with cowries. The cowries are rubbed on stone before being embroidered so that they may stick well, and they are always sewn by the man using the cloth and never by his wife or anybody else. The cowrie decoration is quite popular among the Naga and it imparts to the kilt the character of toga virility, signifying his success in love or war.

Another prominent thing for Naga man attire is the headgears. Naga headgears are not a simple hat or helmet. These headgears are a symbol of position, status and power. No one can just simply wear any headgears, they are inherited or worn after having earned some achievement. The head of each group in a village wears special types of headgear decorated with hornbill bird’s beak, boar tusks and feathers, animal skulls which symbolizes power, authority of the head of the group.

Different types of Naga Headgears There are different types of headgears. Animal Skull headgears (for example – leopard, Monkey)

They are symbolic of their wearer’s bravery as head hunters. According to Naga belief, the human soul is divided into two parts; Yaha (the animal aspect) and Moi (the spiritual aspect). When a Naga dies, the Yaha travels to the land of the dead while the Moi remains in the village. An abundance of Moa is considered beneficial to the prosperity and fertility of the Naga tribe and the crops they grow. In the ancient times, the Naga believed the Moi resided in the headgears. Cane and bamboo headgears.

Cane helmets and hat frames are also made. Most of the ceremonial headgears are made of cane and are further decorated with dyed goat fur, boar tusks, etc. Hornbill bird’s beak or feather headgears Hornbill is very a rare bird. The number of hornbill feathers used on the headgears is like medals of the wearer achievements. The Naga man has to achieve success in order to claim the number of feathers used on his headgear

Naga woman attire

The women of Nagaland are mostly found wearing a plain black, blue and white cloth with different breadth of black marginal bands. Some Naga tribal ladies wear small conical caps, made of cane. The more visitors drawn and attracted to Naga New Year festival because they want to enjoy the daily life of stone age people. Visitor can see all tribes of Naga under one roof. Local foods and wines are in abundance. In coming year, the Naga Self-Administered Zone can be expected to progress to a certain extent as the government allotted more than 9 Billion Kyats to the zone in the nine months since it took office. Transportation services are getting better compared to past few years..

 

 

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